Obituary of Kenneth N. Skoug, Jr.
Kenneth N. Skoug, Jr., retired Foreign Service Officer, died December 5, 2021 at his home in Harleysville, Pennsylvania. Mr. Skoug was born in Fargo, North Dakota in 1931. He was a devoted family man, an accomplished collegiate runner, and a dedicated servant to the United States.
Mr. Skoug earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Columbia College in 1953, and a Master’s Degree and Ph.D. from The George Washington University. He also attended the Georgetown Institute of Language and Linguistics, 1955-56 and The National War College, 1973-74.
After completing service in the U.S. Army, Mr. Skoug married the love of his life, Martha Reed in 1958. Together they would raise two children while traveling the world.
His Foreign Service career (1957-90) included assignments in Germany, Mexico, Czechoslovakia, The Soviet Union and Venezuela (twice) as well as four tours in the Department of State in Washington, D.C.
Some of the highlights of his distinguished career include serving in Czechoslovakia during the Soviet invasion, traveling the world as a Foreign Service Inspector, working as Economic-Commercial Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, negotiating the release of political prisoners with Fidel Castro while Office Director of Cuban Affairs, and establishing personal relations between Venezuelan President Perez and President George H.W. Bush. His final, most prestigious position was that of Deputy Chief of Mission in Caracas during a period of political unrest.
Six of his public speeches on Cuba were published by the Department of State as official policy.
He also published two books, The United States and Cuba Under Reagan and Shultz, A Foreign Service Officer Reports as well as Czechoslovakia’s Lost Fight for Freedom, 1967-69, An American Embassy Perspective.
Mr. Skoug was awarded two Presidential Meritorious Service Awards and a personal commendation from Secretary of State George Schultz for helping negotiate a migration agreement with Cuba in 1984.
After retirement, Mr. Skoug and his beloved wife of 50 years resided in Virginia where they enjoyed hosting their two children’s families. After Martha’s death he moved to Harleysville, to be near his daughter, Reed and her husband, Michael. In 2019 he appeared in the program Expedition Unknown with his son and grandson to remember Flight 2501, an unsolved airplane crash that took his father’s life. Mr. Skoug especially loved dogs, nature, and all manner of competitive games, particularly baseball. He promoted charitable contributions for the humane treatment of all sentient beings.
He is survived by his two children, Reed and Kenneth, their spouses, Michael and Becky, and five grandchildren, Curtis, Kenneth, Cecilia, Evangeline and Meganne.