February 6, 1994: Death of Duluth social activist Frances Skinner

On this day in Duluth in 1994, social activist Frances “Fran” Skinner died at seventy-six years of age. Skinner began her career in social work in the Twin Cities in 1941; ten years later, her work brought her to Duluth as the executive director of the International Institute. After a ten-year tenure, Skinner left the institute to teach sociology at the University of Minnesota Duluth, where she helped develop the School of Social Development. She retired from UMD in 1979 to serve as the president of the Duluth Community Action Board. She was widely involved in the Duluth, displaying a lifetime of concern for her community, particularly where low-income housing was concerned. In 1990 Skinner’s life in social work was recognized by Governor Rudy Perpich. who presented her with an economic and social justice award. It is only fitting then, that when the Toverilla Hotel (b. 1917) was converted into low-income apartments, the building was renamed to honor Skinner. In a Duluth News-Tribune article about Skinner’s passing in 1994, Duluth Community Action Program Director Catherine Peterson said that “[Frances] was an incredible woman. She was beloved in our community and dedicated her life to making it better.” Fran Skinner was also involved in in other aspects of life in Duluth—click here to learn more about this remarkable Duluthian.

The Frances Skinner Apartments at 102 East First Street, Duluth. (Image: Zenith City Press)

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