Dr. Bill Skeen
Our beloved Dr. Bill Skeen — husband, cousin, friend, musician and truly exceptional human being — courageously left this world on June 9, on his own terms, after an unsuccessful course of treatment that left him with no hope for recovery. Bill was surrounded by loved ones. As he left, he shared with us his abundant optimism for this world to move forward in love and equality for ALL people: “One Human Family.”
Bill was born on June 29, 1953 in Santa Barbara at St. Francis Hospital to William D. and Mona (Yturri) Skeen. He was very proud of his Spanish-Basque heritage and spoke beautiful fluent Spanish. He attended Garfield Elementary, La Colina Jr. High and San Marcos High School, graduating from Stanford University in 1976 and UC San Francisco Medical School in 1980. Bill practiced emergency medicine for 10 years before dedicating his career to public health policy in the non-profit sector. He was very committed to combating the AIDS epidemic and fighting for quality affordable health care for all. He served as Director of Policy for Florida AIDS Action and Executive Director for California Physicians Alliance. He most recently served as Interim Director for the Santa Barbara Pacific Pride Foundation.
Drawn by its excitement and energy, Bill moved to Miami in the late 1990s and found love with Ricardo Pelaez, a warm-hearted talented artist. Together, they enjoyed great success and happiness in the art business. They forged a successful partnership, in which Bill served as president and manager, allowing Ricardo the freedom to create. Bill and Ricardo loved traveling, especially to Ricardo’s home country of Colombia, enjoying its diverse and rich culture. Bill was embraced by Ricardo’s loving family and participated in many stimulating conversations about music, the arts, and public health.
Bill and Ricardo relocated back to Santa Barbara to be closer to family. Their new life was filled with lots of friends, music and gaiety. They hosted great parties and were generous and kind. Bill was a founding member of Fratelli Gay Men’s Chorus, as well as a volunteer on the Fund for Santa Barbara’s Grant-Making Committee.
Bill will be deeply missed by all, especially his dear cousin Cindy McMahon of Santa Ynez and, of course, his devoted and adoring husband Ricardo.
To make a donation in Bill’s memory, please consider The Fund for Santa Barbara, Pacific Pride or the California Physicians Alliance. A celebration of Bill’s life will be planned for a future date.