Obituary: Bernie Haskins

Bernard Ray Haskins, Alachua, 1941-2021

Bernard Ray “Bernie” Haskins was born in Lakeland, FL, on August 19, 1941, and died at the age of 79 at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, FL, on June 13, 2021, after a series of infections that weakened his heart.

He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Penny Skordas Haskins; his daughters Jennifer Cabrera (Len) and Stephanie Warrington (Al); his grandchildren Alyssa Shelamer, Leah Shelamer, and Luke Warrington; his brothers, Ron Haskins (Billie Lynn) and Monty Haskins; and his sister-in-law Carolin Skordas. He is also survived by 5 nieces and 3 nephews and their spouses, children, and grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, William Carlous Haskins and Bertie Jacobs Haskins, his sister-in-law Inga Haskins, and his brother-in-law Tom Skordas.

Athletically gifted, Bernie played in the Little League World Series in 1954 and played football and baseball at Lakeland High School, earning an Honorable Mention on the National High School All-America Football Team in 1958. After graduating in 1959, he attended the University of Florida on a baseball scholarship. He played on the 1962 SEC Championship team, a team ranked #1 in the nation at the end of the regular season (the first UF team in any sport to achieve a #1 ranking). Bernie’s name still appears in 4 places in the Gators baseball record book, all in lists for most triples in a season or career.

When a senior at the University of Florida, Bernie spotted a cute freshman, learned her name was Penelope, and called every Penelope in the student directory until he found her. They were married in 1963, just before he began graduate school at NC State University in Raleigh, NC. Their daughters, Jennifer and Stephanie, were both born in Raleigh. He received his Ph.D. in Animal Nutrition in 1967.

Bernie worked as a nutritionist in Sterling, IL, Amarillo, TX, and Okeechobee, FL, before starting his own nutrition consulting and marketing company, Bernie Haskins Co., in Gainesville in 1975. He marketed animal feed ingredients as an independent sales agent. In partnership with David Anderson, he also expanded into liquid feed distribution and opened The Feed Store in High Springs. He served on the Board of Directors of the Florida Feed Association for many years and served as president for a year. A born salesman, Bernie connected with people everywhere he went, remembering their names and asking about their families; even in the last days of his life, he asked for the names of his nurses and made a point of thanking them for caring for him.

The family moved to Alachua in 1983, first living on a farm, where they had a small cow-calf operation, and then in Turkey Creek, where he spent every spare minute on the golf course. 

Bernie loved Jesus, his Lord and Savior. He was active at Alachua First United Methodist Church, serving in multiple leadership roles and teaching Sunday School and Bible studies. He loved doing in-depth research on the Bible, and many church members fondly recall how his lessons made various books come alive, especially Genesis and Revelation. Some of his colleagues remember the deep theology discussions they had while traveling together to call on customers.

Bernie didn’t retire until he had a stroke at age 76, but he and Penny had already enjoyed 15 years of exploring the USA in their RV as well as traveling to the Caribbean and Europe. 

He adored his family and took great pleasure in being “The Patriarch.” Sons-in-law and grandchildren were eagerly welcomed into the family. He loved presiding over family meals and spending time with his grandchildren. 

We always knew that we were loved and could rely on him for whatever we needed. He provided an incredible example of love, gentleness, and strength. He will be missed, but we know we will see him again.

A Celebration of Life will be held at the Alachua First United Methodist Church at 2 PM on Sunday, June 27, followed by a gathering in the social hall. In lieu of flowers, the family requests a donation to the church in Bernie’s name. Donations can also be made directly to the non-profit Manos De Dios, Inc. These donations will be used to build a church for the deaf in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where his granddaughter serves as a missionary.

Obituaries and photos may be submitted to info@alachuachronicle.com.

  • It’s been 20+ years since we’ve had any contact, but deepest sympathy for your loss and best wishes for the future.
    Peace to all.
    Gene & Dibbie Dunnam

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