Ossipee — February 4, 2008 — Ossipee Monday was mourning the death of selectman Joseph G. Skehan Jr, a town father and business leader who was remembered for his decades of public service and private generosity. He was 65. Skehan died after a period of illness and he had heart trouble, friends and fellow selectmen said, announcing the death at two local centers of government Monday morning.
He was in good spirits as recently as last week, planning to attend a concert Saturday to benefit the town’s Main Street economic revitalization effort, one of numerous causes taken up by the three-term selectman.
“He was very supportive of the event,” said Kim Whitefeather, who grew up knowing the Skehan family and who spoke with him days earlier. “He was there 100 percent.”
“He was a great family man, a wonderful guy and has given the town a tremendous amount,” she added. “Everybody liked Joe. The town is going to miss Joe Skehan.”
Skehan’s board called off Monday night’s selectmen’s meeting “out of respect” and will attempt to operate until elections with only two selectmen, said selectman Kathleen Maloney.
“Legally we have the right to appoint a former selectman, when we’re so close to elections we may hold off on that,” she said as the news hit a somber town hall where Skehan’s wife Kellie is the town clerk.
The family’s landmark lumberyard, Skehan Home Center, also closed it doors to honor his passing. The company has donated lumber for town events, including lumber for a structure built to house a fishing derby, Whitefeather said.
Sam Martin, who served with Skehan on selectmen’s boards in the 1990s, said the Skehan name was always a friend to Ossipee.
“He gave so much to the town as far as goods. We always got a great shake from Skehan’s,” Martin said. “He was a great husband and a great father.”
His passing struck chords around county government, with another sobering announcement delivered to lawmakers at the county administration complex Monday by County Commissioner Peter Olkkola, who is also an Ossipee selectman.
“He was just a really nice person,” County Commissioner Marge Webster added. “Approachable, fair and honest.”
Skehan was a selectman from 1993 to 1998, and was reelected in 2005.
“I just talked to him last week,” Whitefeather said. “I knew him when I was a kid, when we both were kids.”