A man whose keen smile matched his fun-loving spirit, James Andrew Skikos died July 3 of complications from pancreatic cancer, with which he was diagnosed in March.
He was 60 and died at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.
Skikos was born Sept. 5, 1953, in Ogden, Utah, where his grandfather and father were in the produce business. He was 8 years old when his parents moved to Sonoma County, where his father, Andy Skikos, would open Andy’s Produce in Sebastopol.
Skikos attended Cardinal Newman High School but transferred to Montgomery High School so that he could play football.
“Jimmy had a real hard nose,” said Kelly Kline of Santa Rosa, a teammate.
Both Skikos and Kline were new transfers to Montgomery and they bonded quickly.
“We were both a couple of scared kids,” Kline said.
Skikos graduated from high school in 1971 and went to St. Mary’s College in Moraga to play football. But it wasn’t long before he tired of classes and when Kline broke a wrist, rendering him unable to play, the two lit off for Europe on a backpacking trip.
“He was a free spirit; it was hard to contain him sometimes,” said Skikos’ wife, Jane Skikos. The couple, who married in 1981, separated in 2003 but remained close friends.
In Europe, Skikos and Kline bought a Volkswagen Beetle and drove it around the continent for six weeks — from Germany to Amsterdam, through Switzerland, to Rome. Along the way, Skikos passed down some secrets of the produce trade.