Friday, December 23, 2011

Obituary: Robert B. Skuldt - Class of 1936

MADISON - Robert B. Skuldt passed away Monday, Dec.19, 2011, at age 93.

Robert was born in Monticello on Aug. 18, 1918, and moved to Madison in 1925. He graduated from Madison Central High School in 1936. He married the former Viletta J. Spencer of Madison in 1940. He was Director of the Dane County Regional Airport from 1946 until his retirement in 1981. In this position, he was deeply involved in the operation, maintenance and development of the Madison Municipal Airport, later named the Dane County Regional Airport. Mr. Skuldt actively promoted, developed statistics and presented supporting oral and written testimony before the Civil Air Board in Washington D.C. many times in establishing most of the Major Airline Routes serving Madison and the surrounding counties. He was also a civilian flying instructor for several years at the old Madison Royal Airport and at the Morey Airport in Middleton.

Mr. Skuldt entered the military service in 1943 with a direct commission. He served as a pilot in the United States Army Air Corp Air Transport Command in the China-Burma-India Theater; flying four engined C54's over the Himalayan Mountains "The Hump," and flew many of the world air routes during World War II. He received an Air Medal and five battle stars plus numerous other military citations. After World War II, he helped organize the Madison unit of the Wisconsin Air National Guard and served as Commanding Officer, Utility Flight 176 Fighter Squadron, Inspector General 128th Air Defense wing and several other high level positions. In 1964, he was promoted to full colonel. He was recalled to active duty with the United States Air Force in 1951, during the Korean conflict, and after 21 months of active duty, he returned to his position of Airport Director and re-entered The Wisconsin Air National Guard.

Mr. Skuldt was a command pilot with 7300 hours of flying time, of which 5600 hours are military. He held Federal Aviation pilot ratings as follows: Commercial License, Flying Instructors Rating, Instrument Flying Rating, Multi-engine Rating, DC-3, DC-4 and Seaplane Rating. After serving 28 years of active duty and reserve time (U.S. Air Force and WI Air National Guard), Colonel Skuldt retired from the Wisconsin Air National Guard in 1971. He was very active in the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, particularly related to aviation and military affairs. He was a member of: Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame, an "Inducted Member" on Oct.10, 2006, American Association of Airport Executives, Wisconsin Airports Association-Past President, Military Order of World Wars, Wisconsin National Guard Association, Retired Officers Association and Quiet Birdmen-Past Key Man-Governor.

Shortly after he retired as Director of the Dane County Regional Airport in April 1981, Mr. Skuldt became an Airport Consultant to Mr. Hal Carr, President of Republic Airlines until November, 1984. He served on the Dane County Board of Supervisors from 1985 until 1992 and was Chairman of the Dane County Regional Airport Commission for several years. In 1964 he was inducted into the Wisconsin State Journal "Know Your Madisonian." Included in the 2004 major expansion of the Dane County Regional Airport Terminal Building is a large state-of-the-art conference room located in the Airline Ticket-Counter area. On June 16, 2004, this conference room was dedicated and named the Robert B. Skuldt Conference Room in tribute to his 35 years as Manager/Director of the Madison Municipal Airport/Dane County Regional Airport. Above the conference doors, in large block letters, is "Robert B. Skuldt Conference Room." Located on the wall by the entrance doors is a metal plaque with an image of Robert B. Skuldt and a resume of his military and civilian aviation career.

Robert is survived by his wife, Viletta J. "Letty" Skuldt; son, Gregory R. (Marlene) Skuldt of Verona; two granddaughters, M. Kristin (James) Skuldt Niederberger of Kansas City, Mo. and Lesa H. (Keith) Kardash of Mercer; great-granddaughter, Erin E. Niederberger; great-grandson, Alex Niederberger; great-great-granddaughter, Isabelle G. Kardash; and many friends.

There will be no visitation. Private graveside services will be held for immediate family. Interment will be in Mount Horeb Union Cemetery, Mount Horeb. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Agrace HospiceCare, Inc. 5395 E. Cheryl Parkway, Fitchburg, WI 53711.

Originally published in the Wisconsin State Journal on December 23, 2011 (submitted by Michael Vahldieck, Class of 1968)