Former president of Oceanic Free Library and Rumson Country Day School Head Master Donald “Skip” Sykes passed away on Tuesday, Nov. 26 at his Rumson home after a long illness.
A memorial visitation is set for Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m. at Thompson Memorial Home, Red Bank. It will be followed by a funeral service on Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, 150 River Road, Red Bank.
Known as a devoted husband, loving father and grandfather and steadfast friend, for more than 30 years, Skip served on the Board of Trustees of the Oceanic Free Library in Rumson. He was Rumson Country Day’s head master for 12 years, during which he served on the SSAT board.. He also spent several summers as a senior counselor at Camp Tecumseh, Lake Winnipesaukee, NH.
For the past 30 years he vacationed on Lake Mooselookmeguntic, Oquossoc, ME. During the summers he refinished bedraggled furniture found in second hand stores, including a Larkin Soap desk and an antique dining room set. He also enjoyed teaching his children and grandchildren to build three legged tables out of scrap lumber.
A native of Bala-Cynwyd, PA, he attended Episcopal Academy, Merion, PA, and Amherst College, Amherst, MA.. He was named All-American soccer player his senior year at Amherst. He later established the Amherst College Class of 1959 Soccer fund.
After graduating from Amherst, Skip taught and coached varsity soccer at Episcopal Academy. Under his coaching, Episcopal’s soccer teams won several Inter-Academic championships.
After receiving an MA from University of Pennsylvania, he joined the faculty at St. George’s School, Newport, RI where he taught history, coached varsity soccer and served as Dean of Students.
After St. George’s, Skip became head of school at St. Edmund’s Academy, Pittsburgh, PA. While at St. Edmund’s, he served on the board of Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools (PAIS), which is the Pennsylvania Independent Schools’ accrediting organization.
After leaving Rumson Country Day School, Skip established Donald Sykes Educational Consultants, Inc. While consulting, Skip served as president of Hampton Roads Airport, Inc., traveling to Chesapeake, VA for 1-2 weeks each month to establish a firm business practices and oversee operation. Following the sale of Hampton Roads Airport in 1996, he served as interim head of The Pennington School, Pennington, NJ for 15 months and as interim head at Montgomery School, Chester Springs, PA for one year.
He leaves behind: Frances, his wife of 57 years; and three children and their spouses, Abby Sykes (Anthony), Jeremy Sykes (Nichole) and Tiernan Close (Matthew); and seven grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, please send gifts to Oceanic Free Library, Rumson, NJ, or Class of 1959 Soccer Fund, Amherst College, Amherst, MA.
— Edited obituary submitted to Thompson Memorial Home