Susan Gayle King Skillen of Little Rock departed this earth on Aug. 11, 2017, at home.

She was born to John Hays and Alma Wagoner King on Oct. 10, 1948, in Tahlequah, Okla. At six months of age, she and her family moved to Hayti, Mo.

After graduation from Hayti High School, Susan attended one year at the University of Missouri, graduating with her BES degree from Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau, Mo. She taught sixth grade in Hayti and Webster Grove, Mo., for three years, then embarked on a career in ladies’ fashion.

As her great-aunt, Grace Hays, was ready to retire, Grace asked Susan if she was interested in taking over management of Hays and King clothing store in Van Buren. In 1973, in partnership with cousin, Jim Buchanan, Susan began operating Hays and King as manager.

With the business up and running, Susan became involved in her community. She served as member and president of the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce and was member and president of the GFWC chapter, later serving as the 1988-90 state president. She involved herself in PEO chapters in each city in which she lived and was a member of DAR.

In 1984, Gov. Bill Clinton recognized Susan for her exceptional accomplishments with her involvement in the Arkansas Community Development Program. She also involved herself in the Fort Smith Leadership program, and was recognized for her efforts to establish the Crawford County Adult Learning Center in 1994.

In addition to other numerous awards and recognitions, Susan was chosen as the Van Buren outstanding citizen of the year and received the Iverson Riggs Memorial Award in 1996. She nurtured and guided many young women in the business world while setting a great example of how to properly operate a business and treat people with respect. Those young women are counted among some of Susan’s richest treasures.

Susan was a devout member of St. John United Methodist Church in Van Buren, where she served as Sunday school teacher, youth leader and in different capacities on various church committees. She also served on the merger committee that founded Heritage United Methodist Church in Van Buren. Her faith was always an important part of her, and she lived out her faith daily.

After Susan married Richard H. Skillen on Oct. 15, 1993, she decided to close her clothing business and follow him to his home in Pine Bluff. Upon arrival she became director of the Clean and Beautiful chapter, and later took a position with the Alliance of Jefferson County as volunteer coordinator.

Following her husband’s retirement in 2000, Susan’s brothers invited her to join them in the family grocery business in Eastern Arkansas and Southeast Missouri. At that time, the move was made to Wynne. The constant theme in her life was people, so her job with Hays Supermarkets as human resource manager was a perfect fit.

While living in Wynne, Susan’s faith naturally dictated she become involved in the Wynne First United Methodist Church, serving as Sunday school leader, and in different capacities on various church committees.

In April 2015, Susan decided to retire and move to Little Rock to be closer to her grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her parents, John Hays and Alma Wagoner King.

Susan is survived by her husband, Richard H. Skillen; daughter, Kady S. (Alan) Hill; two well-loved grandchildren, Emerson and Whitaker Hill; brothers, David A. King, and his wife Joyce and Michael J. King, and his wife Kay; nieces, Amy Louise (David) Gullic, Susannah H. King, Joy S. (Dan) Crunk, and Jan S. (Lee) Workman; nephews, Jon D. (Ashley), Michael J. (Jessica) King, Jeff (Sara), and Joe (Anna-Karin) Skillen; sixteen great-nieces and great-nephews; and four great-great nieces.

The family wishes to thank Dr. Jamie Pennington and Dr. Monica Lo for their care and concern, the many friends who are like family who loved and supported Susan, Arkansas Heart Hospital, and Hospice Home Care of Little Rock.

A memorial service was Aug. 15 at Roller-Chenal Funeral Home, 13801 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock, AR 72211, (501)224-8300.

The family requests in lieu of flowers, that memorials may be made to Arkansas Heart Hospital Foundation, 10802 Executive Center Drive, Suite 110, Little Rock, AR 72211 or to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105.

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