St. Francis Kansas Alumni
St. Francis Kansas Alumni
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Garnette E. Greene
Maynard Skinner PhD
Our School History
Maynard Skinner PhD
The wrestling program at St. Francis High School was started in 1932 by G.E. “Pop” Greene. Under the guidance of Greene and other early coaches, the sport quickly grew in popularity and Sainty boys were regular competitors at the state tournament. By 1938 and again in 1940, our wrestlers won the most points bringing home the state team championship trophy and placing St. Francis on the map as a powerhouse. In fact, for five years in a row, 1952-56 the St. Francis team won state.

Maynard Skinner coached three of those five years. Born in Montrose, Colorado, in 1928, Coach Skinner grew up in Boulder. After high school, he served in the U.S. Marines, then went on to graduate from University of Colorado in 1952 with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. He excelled as a member of the C.U. wrestling team, winning 2nd place in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) in the 177# weight class.

Skinner first learned about St. Francis in 1952. In a telephone interview from his home in Davis, California, Skinner spoke about a 4-day visit to St. Francis when Warren “Barney” Boring was wrestling coach. “Barney sponsored the Olympic try-outs for the western United States in April of 1952,” he said. “I came to try-out and stayed in Dr. Wilson’s home and got to know the town and the people.”

Skinner won the 174# spot and went on to Ames, Iowa, for national try-outs for the London Olympics. He didn’t quite qualify for the U. S. Olympic wrestling team as only the top two were chosen. Returning to Colorado, Skinner finished his Masters’ degree in Exercise Physiology at CU-Boulder in 1953, then applied to teach and coach in St. Francis that fall.

Skinner’s wife, Shirley JoAnn, taught in a country school south of town. He taught high school Science, History, and Physical Education and was head wrestling coach and assistant football and track coach. “We won state champion wrestling all three years,” he said. “1954, ‘55, and ‘56.” In May of 1956, Skinner applied for and got a Fulbright teaching fellowship and left St. Francis for a year teaching in Burma, helping develop their Physical Education program.

Upon his return to the U.S., Skinner worked in Annapolis, Maryland, as assistant wrestling coach at the United States Naval Academy for two years. He returned to University of Colorado in 1959 for more studies and received a Doctorate in Administration in 1961. From 1961-1991, he worked for the University of California at Davis, beginning as Assistant Dean of Students, and ending as Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. From 1966-68, he took a leave of absence from his university duties to train Peace Corps volunteers assigned to India and Nepal.

Dr. Skinner became involved in local politics when he served on the Davis City Council. His four terms spanned four different decades–the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. He was elected Mayor of Davis twice. Skinner’s contributions during those years were many, but notably the conception and implementation of--Central Park, the smoking codes, Save Open Space, and getting the City of Davis, California, designated as “Bike City, USA.”

Skinner retired from politics in 1996 only to become involved in Community Connections, a UC-Davis international program which hosts people from the former Soviet Republics for a 3-week agricultural program.

Dr. Skinner has five children and five grandchildren. His wife, Dr. Cristy Jensen, retired three years ago as Professor of Public Policy at California State University at Sacramento.

Melvin “Tobe” Zweygardt, who wrestled at Oregon State University, has stayed in touch with the Skinners. “I admired him. He was a great coach,” he said. Zweygardt remembers Coach Skinner taking the team to Colorado to watch other teams, and sometimes wrestle at those schools. “One time he took us to C.U. to watch a college match,” Zweygardt recalled. “Afterwards he took us out to a pizza place. It was my first time eating pizza.”

There are men in St. Francis who were teenagers when Maynard Skinner came to town as the new coach. Marlin Rueb was a Junior when Skinner arrived in 1953. “Coach Skinner was a good teacher of wrestling,” said Rueb. “He taught us an aggressive, attacking style.” As a senior, Marlin Rueb went to the grade school to teach Skinner’s methods to the boys coming up. One of his students, Glenn Isernhagen, is quick to say, “Marlin taught me everything I know about wrestling.”

Maynard Skinner’s legacy lived on for years in St. Francis, Kansas, producing state champion wrestlers long after he left.

Article by Louanne Isernhagen


While looking for pictures for this site, we had the help of Sally Wieck at The Cheyenne County Museum, and Kent Kechter at USD297.
And the some of the pictures on this site are from the Cheyenne County Museum, and the USD 297 website.
Used with their permission.