2013-11-21 / Obituaries

Mary Skipper

Mary Skipper passed away at her home in Mariposa on Oct. 28,

2013 after the first heavy rain of autumn. She was 97 years old.

Mary was born in Madera on Jan. 12, 1916 and spent her childhood in Yosemite Valley’s old Indian Village located in Indian Canyon and then in the new Indian Village, created in 1930.

During her life in Yosemite Valley, Mary saw and participated in legendary events such as Indian field days in Yosemite Valley, firefalls, gathering acorns for the winter and gathering material for basket making with her mother and grandmother. She knew Tabucce, Captain Sam, Chief Lemee (Chris Brown) and all of the Indian community that are now found only in books about Yosemite and California Indians.

Her Indian name was TO-TU-YUM, meaning bubbling water. Her grandmother, Mary Wilson, gave her this name, which proved to be the essence of who she was her entire life. Her grandmother was a captian of the Yosemite Indians with her roundhouse located in Indian Canyon by the old Village. Mary spent her days with her mother and grandmother living the Indian life.

Mary participated in the famous photo taken in 1933 at the grand opening of the tunnel on Highway 41, coming into Yosemite Valley, known worldwide as the “Valley view,” along with many of the Indians who lived in Yosemite at that time. She was 17 when the picture was taken.

She lived with her mother, Phoebe Wilson Lovine Hogan and grandmother, Mary Wilson. Her mother worked for Curry Company as a laundress for many years. Mary and her grandmother were among the Indians who prepared, then carried, the famous Indian Captain Sam, a Paiute from the east side and husband of Yosemite Miwok Susie Sam, across the Merced River in El Portal to his final resting place in the cemetery on Johnny Wilson’s Rancheria.

Mary attended Sherman Indian School for her education and traveled extensively in the United States.

After her retirement, Mary moved back to Mariposa. She was a lady with a great sense of humor and loved to laugh. She had seen and done it all and had many stories, all told with humor and insight.

Mary’s last day on earth was a beautiful day of rain, spent laughing and swapping stories with her nephew Steve and great-niece, Roberta. Laughter and having a wonderful time with family and friends was her favorite way to spend her time. Shortly after they left and before her home health worker, Patty, checked on her an hour later, Mary had passed peacefully in her favorite chair.

Mary leaves a very large family, including her daughter, Barbara Kester of Salt Lake City, Utah; her grandson, Gary McMahon of Paradise and his children. Her nieces include Evelyn Brocchini Wilson, Joan Rust Oliphant and Beverly Rust Hibpshman and one nephew, James Rust, Jr. She left behind many great, great-great and great-great-great nieces and nephews and friends spanning 97 years, who miss her tremendously.

She was preceded in death by her grandparents, Mary and Frank “Hooky” Wilson, her parents Phoebe and Perl Lovine, sisters Evelyn Lovine Schumacher, Pearl Lovine Brocchini Rust and brothers Kenny Lovine and Allen Lovine, nephews Lawrence Brocchini, Nick Brocchini and John “Spike” Brocchini.

Mary was a good person who led an extraordinary life and left a legacy of a good heart and generosity of spirit. Her honest was refreshing and she was a joy to know.

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