Leo Anthony Childs III, 69, of Truro, who was known as “Skip,” died Aug. 7, 2020, in a mowing accident at St. Peter the Apostle Cemetery in Provincetown. Tending the cemetery grounds was a job he loved and had volunteered to do, although Father “Mick” McCullough insisted on paying him.
Skip was born in New York but returned at age two to his family’s home in Centerville, where the Childs men were well-known masons. For this, his cousins always called him a washashore, said his wife, Marjorie.
After graduating from Barnstable High School in 1969, he immediately joined the U.S. Coast Guard. While stationed at Woods Hole, Skip met Marjorie, a Provincetown girl from the Silva and Roderick families who said she had to go as far as Falmouth to meet a man who was not her cousin.
He could fix anything, his wife said. Skip worked as a mechanic at his father-in-law’s Provincetown shop and later owned Skip’s Auto Repair in Truro. He was also a mechanic for the National Park Service, retiring three years ago on the same day Marjorie retired from her job with the town. The couple was married 49 years.
In the early 1980s, he began volunteering for the Provincetown Fire Dept. He became a paramedic, and also volunteered for the Truro Fire Dept.
Like most firefighters, he was passionately protective of the younger crew members and caring with the patients.
One woman told Marjorie how terrified she was the night she called the rescue squad because her husband was extremely ill. “The minute I saw your husband walk through the door, I knew everything would be all right,” she told Marjorie. (The man survived.)
Skip was giving and kind.
“He would never want to be called a hero, because he really felt that is what everyone is supposed to do, take care of each other,” Marjorie said.
Skip had wide interests, including gardening and beekeeping. He built a demonstration hive to show to students at Truro Central School.
Like his parents, Skip was a devout Catholic. He and Marjorie attended St. Peter the Apostle in Provincetown and Our Lady of Lourdes in Wellfleet. “Being a member of two churches was good for me,” said Marjorie. “Skip was an angel on earth, but I had to ride on his coat tails.”
Skip served on the Truro Planning Board and volunteered for Habitat for Humanity. Each Memorial Day, he placed 600 American flags on veterans’ graves in Truro.
He had been mowing St. Peter’s Cemetery for two years. On Aug. 7, he left his house at 7:30 a.m. Around 9:30 a.m., the riding mower fell on top of him. No one is sure exactly how it happened, but his firefighter brothers tried their best to save him, Marjorie said.
Besides Marjorie, he is survived by his son Matthew and wife Heather of Yarmouth; his daughter Stephanie and husband Erik of Yarmouth, one grandchild, and many nieces and nephews.
A Mass of Christian burial will be held Monday, Aug. 17, at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Lourdes in Wellfleet. Donations for a fund for Skip’s favorite charities, including the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Habitat for Humanity, and the Mass. Maritime Academy, may be sent to the Leo Skip Childs III Memorial Fund, c/o Stacey White, Seamen’s Bank, P.O. Box 74, North Truro 02652.