Cover photo for Dr. Joseph J. Skemp's Obituary
Dr. Joseph J. Skemp Profile Photo
1929 Dr. 2017

Dr. Joseph J. Skemp

March 19, 1929 — July 22, 2017

Joseph Jerome Skemp MD, 88, of La Crosse, Wis., died Saturday, July 22, 2017. He was born on March 19, 1929, on the Feast of St. Joseph, at St. Ann’s Maternity in La Crosse, to Thomas H. and Beulah (Kelley) Skemp.

Baptized at St. James the Less Catholic Church, on the Northside of La Crosse, on March 31, 1929, he received first Holy Communion at St Joseph Cathedral on May 24, 1936, and was Confirmed by Bishop Griffin there on October 27, 1941. Joseph graduated from Aquinas in the class of 1946, attended St. Mary’s College, in Winona, Minn., 1946 to 1949, and then went on to Marquette Medical School in Milwaukee, Wis., receiving his M.D. in 1953. He spent his internship (1953-1954), and his residency in Internal Medicine (1956-1959) at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Milwaukee. He moved to La Crosse, to rear his family in 1959.

He married Patricia Ann McIlhargey at St. Leo’s Catholic Church in Minot, ND, on June 4, 1952. He served in the United States Air Force in Syracuse, NY from 1954 to 1956 and was discharged with the rank of Captain.

In the tradition of his Uncle Archie Skemp, during the 1960’s Dr. Joe and his wife Patricia took entire families into their home at 1022 Division Street; first Cuban Castro-escapees, and then a family from Vietnam. He started out in La Crosse as a general practitioner, and Family Medicine (indeed he delivered his brother Robert C. Skemp’s eldest daughter, Frances, and his own eldest son, Steven). He and his wife Patricia, a psychiatric nurse, were heavily involved with the psychiatric wellbeing of the children in the St. Michael’s Home for Children, and inviting emotionally disturbed children into their own home throughout the 1960’s.

In addition to the specialty of Internal Medicine he had a Cardiology sub-specialty. A doctor before his time in many ways, he had a deep psychological insight into human beings and believed that concern for the wellbeing of the whole person is paramount in treating each patient. A brilliant diagnostician, he was consulted by younger doctors from Rochester Mayo and Franciscan Skemp long after his retirement. A gifted healer, Dr. Joe saved lives, even on vacation, from within sight of Mt. Everest in the Himalayas to the Adirondack, to lately in Arcadia National Park, Maine.

Dr. Skemp was deeply interested in the education of future physician.  He mentored many young doctors.  In 1979 he began formal supervision in clinical experience for students in the University of Minnesota Medical Program in Internal Medicine. He was Chief of Staff at St. Francis Hospital in 1979, and on his wider watch, was involved in the move of the Skemp Clinic from 312 State St., to the new building adjacent to St. Francis Hospital (1968), the mergers with Grandview Clinic (1969), and the La Crosse Clinic (1979). Medicine was changing and he knew it. He assisted with the opening of the Holmen satellite clinic (1987) and Sparta (1992).  He encouraged the current formal partnership with Rochester Mayo in 1994, remembering well his time at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester in the early 1950’s during his courtship of his wife Patricia, R.N.

Dr. Joe is survived by his six children: Patricia Angelin, of New York, NY, Steven Thomas of La Crescent, Minn., Maureen Melinda (Paul) Lucas, of Pittsburg, PA., Joseph Jerome (Michelle), Esq. of La Crosse, Wis., Millissa Eileen (Arthur) Gould, of Tampa, Fla., Vincent Theodore McIlhargey (Deirdre) Skemp, of Minneapolis, Minn.; 10 Grandchildren, Margaret ‘Peggy’, Colleen, Magdalena, Angelin, Brianna, Madeleine, Lydia, Eliza, Sydney, and Rafael, and one great-grandchild, Henry. He is also survived by two sisters, Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Curtis, of Milwaukee, Wis. and Eileen ‘Bee’ Gass, of Castlerock, Co., and one brother, Robert C. Skemp, of La Crosse, Wis.

He was preceded in death by his wife Patricia in 2000, two brothers, Thomas ‘Tommy’ Skemp, William P. Skemp, and one sister, Katherine Lotzer.

A Memorial Mass will be held at 10:30 AM, on Tuesday, August 1, 2017, in St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral, 530 Main St., La Crosse, Wis. Msgr. Charles Stoetzel will officiate with burial to be held in Woodlawn Cemetery, La Crosse, Wis. Military Honors will be performed by the Roy L. Vingers, American Legion Post No. 52. Visitation will be from 9:30 AM, until the time of Mass at Church on Tuesday.

In lieu of flowers memorials are preferred to the Aquinas Foundation, and the FSPA Foundation.

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