Peter Skerritt was born in St. Johns, Antigua on March 23, 1946 to Joseph and Gladys Skerritt. He was the first of their three children, a protective and loving big brother to his siblings, Pauline and Alfred. The family moved from Antigua to St.Kitts for a few years and then spent time in Montserrat before arriving in the United States in 1960. Peter attended Boston Technical High School and graduated in 1965. Shortly after graduation, he felt the call of duty and enlisted in the United States Navy in July of that year. A few months after boot camp, he married his love, Adelina (Adele) Allen, in October 1965. Later on, while he was stationed in San Diego, CA, his young family moved out west to join him. He completed two tours in the Vietnam War and served honorably. While enlisted, he earned the National Defense Medal, the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, the Vietnam Service Medal, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device. With his service complete, he was discharged on July 21, 1969 and moved back to Boston with his growing family. His beloved Aunt Kate settled the family into the second floor apartment of her home. Many happy memories were made there over a fifteen year tenancy for Peter, Adele and their four children: David, Alex, Laelea, and Duvall.
Peter utilized the machinery skills he learned on Navy ships and became an auto mechanic at Boston Edison Electric Company. He remained employed there for over twenty years. After Boston Edison, he became a technician at Charles River Saab in Watertown, MA, where he became intrigued and fascinated by the Saab brand. He studied the unique tools and special techniques for repairing this Swedish car. His love of automobiles was passed on to his three sons, who each mastered the intricacies of their favorite make and talked shop with their dad all the time. After five years with Charles River Saab, Peter decided to start his own car repair business, naming it P&S (Peter and Sons) Auto. This successful venture maintained a regular and loyal client base for over ten years. He was hard working, dedicated, and his customers trusted him.
One of the many warm memories that Peter’s children hold is the annual Kite Festival at Franklin Park. Peter would gather the kids to get the supplies, and they would all sit on the floor in the TV room. Always a kid at heart himself, he would start by making the most beautiful kite in the world. Then, it was the children’s turn to try, choosing their design, color and size under their dad’s watchful and supportive eye. The next day, the entire family would travel to the park, with Jadul, their Doberman Pincher, in tow. Much to everyone’s delight, the kites would soar high into the sky. Afterward, they always took long walks through the park, enjoying food from the many vendors. Franklin Park was a place where the family spent a great deal of time. Peter would take the kids on hikes and bike rides, and they would regularly travel to White Stadium to run laps around the track.
On weekend mornings, he would wake up the kids for “exercise.” Exercise was fun! First, they would line up and listen to his pep-talk about fitness. Then, they would start off the workout by duplicating his jumping jacks, push-ups and lunges. At the end of the session, they stood up straight with their feet apart and bent their knees into a deep squat with their elbows bent at their sides and fists clenched facing upwards. “Silence!” he would say, as all four children giggled. He would then leave the room, the four of them holding the position for as long as possible. He would watch from a distance, and after ten minutes or so, he would come back into the room and simply say, “Release.” Release was the right word, because now, it was time for breakfast!
Peter loved being a grandfather, and his grandchildren adored him. He would wrestle and play fight with them, all while biting fingers and toes! He would call up Alex or Duvall and say, “Where’s the boy?” or “Where’s the girl?” These calls would begin once the grandchild was around 6 months old because the baby needed to be old and sturdy enough to throw into the air for Peter to feel comfortable. Then, it was on. Babysitting included trips to the park or the beach, riding back and forth on trains and buses, going downtown, surprising Adele at Macy’s, going to Great Grandma’s house or to Auntie Pauline’s house. At the beach, they learned to skip stones in the water and they would end the day by going for ice cream. Back at home, there was a slightly worn area on the wall at the fifth step down from the second floor landing. This section of the wall is faded and worn this way because he always gave that spot a playful hit when he babysat. The grandkids were encouraged to do the same every time he carried them down the stairs. “Hit that” he’d say. They all knew exactly what to do and where, and it became their private little game with Grandpa. He was a fun grandfather, even when it came to food. His philosophy seemed to be “extra butter” and “extra syrup,” whether it was pancakes, toast, or his always requested “eggs that make you wanna dance!”
Peter had a sweet tooth like no other. His family was flabbergasted the first time they witnessed the entire top crust of a baked apple pie being removed, so that additional sugar could be sprinkled evenly over the apples. Then, the top crust would be replaced and the slices could then be served. Another of his favorites: Cool Whip stirred into cereal and milk. It was quite good, actually. In the early years, this was always followed with a capful of Brioschi from the blue jar, stirred into a glass of water. This strange tasting bubbly antacid drink was a staple in the household, and he would sneak his kids a sip when mom wasn’t looking. Oddly, they looked forward to their sip each night. Peter loved to eat, and particularly enjoyed a well cooked ham. His sister Pauline always fed him ham for lunch when he visited her, sending him home with more than a few slices for the next day. Peter was also a great cook, himself! He was known for his beef stew, his beef short ribs, and his infamous cod fish.
Peter Skerritt was dearly loved. He was a devoted son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, grand uncle, great grandfather, uncle, cousin, brother-in-law and friend to so many. His deep laugh and radiant smile will never be forgotten. His heart was full of joy, and we all had the pleasure of feeling that joy when in his presence. He leaves behind his mother Gladys, his sister Pauline, his brother Alfred, his wife Adele, his children Alex, Laelea, and Duvall, daughters-in-law Mary and Angela, his grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends too numerous to name. He was preceded in death by his father Joseph and his eldest son David. As Peter would say before hanging up the phone from a quick conversation about a car part or an episode of Gilmore Girls, and would repeat with his signature grin at the end of every family gathering, “See ya later, see ya later!”
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