My first season in Antarctica was the winter of 1994. I worked as a General Assistant with Bob Farrell (now the station manager) and we spent a lot of time shoveling snow but we also did a lot of carpenter helper type work as we rebuilt portions of the station. I was very privileged to work for Richard "Richie" Skane and I also spending a few memorable days with him in Colorado. Richie was my boss and probably one of the best bosses I have ever had. On top of that he was an all around good, fun, fair person - one of those people that everyone enjoyed being around. I can still picture his smile emerging from his bearded face below his round glasses, with a pillbox hat on his curly head. His eyes always had a smile too.
Later, when I worked at Palmer in the science program, Richie was again working in the carpenter shop. At the end of one particularly stressful and advisor-beaten season when I felt the lowest I have ever felt in my life, Richie was the one who approached me as I was getting on the ship to leave and told me "you will be alright John". It made a tremendous difference to my self-esteem to hear that from someone I really respected and I will always remember his kind words.
He passed away in February of 2003 of stomach cancer.
Photo by Glenn Grant
Last year Glenn Grant and a group of people who knew and loved Richie made a proposal to have an Antarctic feature named for him. You can read the whole story here. Originally the proposal was to name a small island recently exposed at the face of a glacier near Palmer Station after Richie. However, after further consideration, a nunatak near Cape Monaco was proposed. I found out that the USGS approved the application this August, the details are listed below:
Antarctica Feature Detail
Antartica ID: 18944
Feature Name: Skane Nunatak
Latitude: 644302S Longitude: 0641636W
Description: A distinctive nunatak rising to 130 meters 0.4 mile E of Cape Monaco, Anvers Island, in the Palmer Archipelago. Named by US-ACAN (2007) after Richard J. Skane, carpenter foreman in support of the U.S. Antarctic Program at McMurdo Station for four field seasons from 1979; at Palmer Station for 10 field seasons including two winters, 1986-96. Elevation ( ft/m ): 427 / 130
Decision Year: 17-JUL-07
Date Entered: 14-AUG-07
I hope I get near Cape Monaco this year to see Skane Nunatak and say hello to an old friend.