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Charles E. Skubas

Died: January 3, 2011

Charlie Skubas, perhaps the finest natural athlete of our class, died age 66 of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a terrible progressive and neurodegenerative disease popularly known for another great athlete and also a victim of the same disease, Lou Gehrig.

Charlie was a product of Connecticut and lived in New Haven. A graduate of Ludlowe High School in Fairfield, he lettered in five sports: soccer, cross-country, football, basketball and baseball. He was All-State in football, where he played end (wide receiver) and had “blinding speed,” according to teammate Greg Weiss. At Yale he lettered in football and baseball, where he was a center fielder. In freshman football, he caught a 76 yard pass from Watts Humphrey in one game and scored the only Yale points, two passes from Tone Grant, in the Bullpups 13-12 loss to Harvard. He seemed marked for greatness but suffered a broken ankle that sidelined him his sophomore year; despite the lingering effects of this injury he started his senior year, received his varsity letter and was a team stalwart. An avid golfer, Charlie carried a two handicap, won many tournaments, and was Club Champion at the Course at Yale.

Everybody liked Charlie. He had a winning smile and an inventive mind. Greg Weiss said that Charlie “had a quick wit and a ready laugh and not a mean bone in his body.” As a pledge of DKE, Charlie felt the lash that he and other pledges received from the fraternity’s pledge master. To put an end to this, Charlie organized the pledge master’s kidnapping and imprisonment on Nantucket at the home of the (absent) parents of a fraternity brother; the pledge master was rescued only after he crawled out a window and flagged down a state trooper. Charlie is believed to be the mastermind of other memorable pranks.

Charlie married the love of his life, Sarah Lehmann, and they had a son, Kyle. His 38 year marriage to Sarah enhanced his tie to Yale, where Sarah is the executive assistant to the Provost.

Charlie received his M.B.A. in finance from Wharton and held a series of executive financial posts: CFO of Herlin Press, controller of Connecticut Color, and positions at Textron Lycoming, the Rolfite Company, Philips Medical Systems, Yale, and Warnaco. He was on the Board of Directors of the Printing Industry of Connecticut and Western Massachusetts, the Board of the Yale Football and Baseball Association and coached New Haven Youth Soccer.

In 2007 Charlie experienced trouble gripping his golf club. This was his first inkling that something was wrong. The subsequent diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s disease must certainly have been crushing to Charlie and Sarah. With wonderful support from Sarah and his family and friends, Charlie retained his good humor, continued to receive visitors and relished stories of the good times at Yale.

Among Charlie’s classmates to visit were John Tagliaferro, Cary Koplin, and Greg Weiss. They decided to honor Charlie by creating the Charles Skubas YC ’66 Fund for ALS Clinical Support and Research, which with their support and that of other classmates, former teammates and fraternity brothers has raised more than $283 thousand dollars to further the cause of ALS research.

Charlie died peacefully January 3, 2011.

Gregory Weiss remembers:

Charlie was such a great guy. Along with Mike Lonergan and Jim Kovacs, we were roommates in Branford for three years. We also played football together for all four years. As mentioned in his memorial, he was arguably the best natural athlete in our class. When we were sophomores and still playing both ways, he (until his ankle injury) was the only guy in our class on the “starting” first eleven. But, more importantly, Charlie was a fun guy to be around. He was always “up” with a positive attitude. I remember when he first told me about his ALS. It was obviously devastating, but Charlie wasn’t letting it get him down. Even when his disease left him immobile, he could still tell stories about freshman football and laugh about the good old days. Charlie was also a hard worker. His M.B.A. from Wharton was testimony to his diligence. We miss him.