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Frank Skinner – ‘a giant of a human being’ – passes away

Frank Skinner

Frank Skinner (Special: Turknett Leadership Group)

By Maria Saporta

Updated: The memorial service for Frank Skinner will be held Wednesday, Nov. 21 at Peachtree Presbyterian Church, 3434 Roswell Rd. NW, at 1 p.m.

B.. Franklin Skinner, an influential business and civic leader for decades, passed away Friday night after being taken to the hospital that morning.

Linda Glass, executive director of the Rotary Club of Atlanta, sent out an email to Rotarians on Saturday titled: “Frank Skinner is now in heaven.”

Glass added that Skinner died “peacefully with a daughter holding each hand.” She then added that Skinner “will be missed by so many of us.”

Frank Skinner

Frank Skinner (Special: Turknett Leadership Group)

For most of his professional career, Skinner was with Southern Bell, which later became BellSouth Corp. before being acquired by AT&T.

When he retired in November 1992, Skinner was CEO of BellSouth Telecommunications, the operating subsidiary of BellSouth Corp., once the major telephone company in the Southeast.

But it was Skinner’s civic contributions that left his mark in Atlanta.

For example, Skinner led the effort to get the Rotary Club of Atlanta to launch the annual Interfaith Business Breakfast – now in its 21styear. Despite failing health, Skinner attended this year’s prayer breakfast on Oct. 4 to hear Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A, give the keynote address. He also attended a recent Rotary Club luncheon meeting.

Over the decades, Skinner held multiple leadership roles in the community. He was the 1992 chairman of the Metro Atlanta Chamber. He also served as a board chair of the United Way of Greater Atlanta as well as one of its annual campaigns.

In one of his less glamorous civic roles, Skinner served on the board of the Atlanta Housing Authority during its transformation from a troubled agency to one that garnered national respect.

But the story that best described Skinner’s character occurred in April 1995.

Skinner was serving as chairman of the national Salvation Army, which was meeting in Atlanta.

He invited Salvation Army leaders to his Buckhead home. Then tragically during the reception, the deck of the Skinner home collapsed – injuring dozens of people, including Skinner.

Even though he was one of the most injured with a fractured pelvis, Skinner insisted that all of his guests be taken to the hospital to receive medical care before he allowed first responders to treat him and his injuries.

Frank Skinner

Frank Skinner

“I do not know of a finer person than Frank Skinner,” Renee Glover, then director of the Atlanta Housing Authority, said in 1995.“He’s always had time to care about his fellow man, willing to not only give lip service but give of his time and commitment. There are very few people who do that.”

John Clendenin, who was then BellSouth’s CEO, said it best.

“Frank Skinner isa giant of a human being in every sense of the word,” Clendenin said in 1995.. “He’s done so much good for so many, and it’s such a shame that he has to suffer like this.”


Rotary 100th Anniversary – Frank Skinner from Jackson Spalding on Vimeo.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.



  1. John R. Adams November 19, 2018 4:41 am

    Frank and his late wife Ruth were such fine people, and lovely neighbors. They inspired many, and their presence is greatly missed. My condolences to the family.Report

  2. John O'Callaghan November 27, 2018 2:57 pm

    Frank was Campaign Chair for one my first United Way fundraising assignments. On my first day with United Way, I literally ended up on Frank’s shoulders as part of an outdoor team building exercise. I had not met him before that moment. I and everyone near him was moved and motivated by his leadership. His shoulders were strong and lifted countless Atlantans. We have lost a giant.Report


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