He may be a native Virginian but he has impacted Atlanta and the Southeast since 1982.
“We recognize him as a humanitarian. He was then and is now,” award committee chair Jim Breedlove said Monday in giving Skinner the Robert Ross Johnson Humanitarian Award at the Buckhead Rotary Club’s lunch meeting at Maggiano’s restaurant in Buckhead. “He is very unique because he has what few people attain — the ability to manage thousands of people to generate millions of dollars of revenue and yet care about the individuals.”
Skinner was first named president of Southern Bell by 1992, and then BellSouth Telecommunications up until his retirement. Skinner worked with 84,000 employees in nine states.
Skinner was named the award’s 13th honoree, following other Atlanta leaders like former U.N. Ambassador and Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy and James, Alana and Harold Shepherd of the Shepherd Center in Buckhead.
“We said we cannot allow the life lessons we learned also to die,” Breedlove said of Johnson’s death in 2000. “If an employee was struggling, Frank was always there. This isn’t true just for employees. This was true in communities where he lived and served.”
In 1988, Skinner became chairman of Atlanta’s United Way Campaign, and later served on its board of directors. He also served on Central Atlanta Progress’ board and was chair of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce in 1992.
“He realized it was absolutely necessary to provide services to those who were in need,” Breedlove said. “It occurred to him when need and capacity come together face to face, the result is responsibility. … Frank met the needs of many people who were downtrodden.”
Other philanthropic organizations he was involved with were the Metropolitan Atlanta United Negro College Fund, the J.M. Tull Charitable Foundation, the Atlanta Housing Authority and the Metro Atlanta Community Foundation.
“His single great contribution of time, energy and focus has been to the Salvation Army,” said Vic Pentz, senior pastor at Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Buckhead. “And BellSouth was Habitat for Humanity’s first sponsor under his leadership.”
Skinner is a 25-year member of the church and has served three terms as elder and currently chairs the planned giving committee. He is still a Rotarian and served as president of the Atlanta Rotary Club in 1993 and 1994.
“I am of course highly honored to receive the Rev. Robert Ross Johnson Humanitarian Award. … By carrying the name of Bob Johnson, I am honored dramatically,” Skinner said. “I felt some guilt about receiving the award for doing the things I love and enjoy doing, and doing them in the company of any community that I absolutely love being a part of, and dealing with individuals I really enjoy working with. I am very, very grateful.”
Skinner is a widower of wife Ruth Ann, and has two daughters and five grandchildren.