Don McAlavy: Local Columnist
Sometimes I can get over my head in helping somebody. That was the case with Jack Skipworth. You’d have to know something about Jack to understand. Maybe this will help: Jack was sort of famous for being in trouble with the law.
Some of you may remember I wrote a two-part column about Jack in the 1980s. He had been told to get out of Clovis by the law after incidents related to handling booze illegally and gambling. In 1969, he settled in Del Rio, Texas, and became the first fishing guide at Lake Amistad.
This is the rest of the story.
I got a phone call from Jack late one night in 1997. He wanted me to find him a place to live in Clovis as he wanted to die in New Mexico. His health had deteriorated.
Part of his ailments came from a horse falling on him and messing up his backbone when he was a kid. Another time, he was in a bad car accident that banged him up. Despite those issues, Jack was a heck of a roper and won many rodeo events, even in Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Now I wasn’t in the business of finding refuge for people, but I told Jack I’d look around. I checked out rooming houses, but prices were too steep for him, even at Senior Citizens Resident Center. Finally after two tries I got in to see a lady who worked for the state.
She told me Jack could apply for help if he is qualified for Medicaid money to make up the difference between what you get from Social Security and the cost each month of a nursing home.
Jack was 83 at this time.
Then the lady asked me to send Jack 11 questions she had to have answers to: his ability to walk on his own and bathe himself, how much medicine did he take, did he have any assets besides his dented-up pickup, etc.
He would be eligible for New Mexico aid if he didn’t have more than $2,000 in assets. If he did, he had to get rid of them.
He also needed to provide proof of citizenship, a birth certificate, voter registration card, or a passport and all the Social Security and Medicare benefits he had.
I think the paperwork almost dumb-fuzzled Jack, especially after he had to fill out a six-page application form. But finally he was approved.
I talked to a rest home and they were all filled up, but I reserved the next bed for Jack. They said he’d have to claim that bed within two days of that bed being available.
Jack got a neighbor to help him pack. He placed his packed metal suitcase and a mounted marlin trophy measuring over 5 feet into his old pickup. He headed for Clovis alone.
Eight miles out of Del Rio, the pickup broke down.
Back at his trailer house, he tripped over the open metal suitcase in the dark and broke one of his fingers. A doctor the next day put his hand in a cast and they put him in a rest home in Del Rio. He called from there within a week and said he might as well stay in a rest home there as a rest home in Clovis.
One day his son, Tony, of San Antonio, Texas, wrote me that Jack had died on Sept. 19, 1998, a year after he had given up on going to Clovis.
Funeral services were held in Del Rio, but Jack was buried in a cemetery at Roswell. He finally had his wish to be in New Mexico.