It’s National Women’s History Month and there’s not a better time than now to celebrate our mothers, sisters, daughters, and countless others. Throughout March, the City of Baytown will be honoring several of our unsung heroes within the community. We begin the series with the story of a longtime Baytownian who has a passion to serve, educate, and lead by example. She also might have picked up a British accent along the way. We’ll get to that.
Carol Skewes learned the importance of serving to help others from a young age. You see, her grandmother, Edna Hart, was part of the “Welcome Wagon,” a group that helped new Baytown residents with services and more when they first arrived in town. Carol said, “I also enjoyed walking with my great uncle, Harry Cox, as a little girl down Texas Avenue to Trophy Barber Shop where he would visit his friends, and visiting my grandfather, Conway Hart, at Culpepper’s Furniture warehouse where he worked.” You can imagine the valuable lessons she learned by watching people interact and help each other. It’s a strong sense of community that has brought Carol back to Baytown, off and on, since she was four.
Growing up, Carol went to school at Bowie Elementary, Lamar Elementary, Horace Mann Junior High and Lee High School. She did take a few breaks, spending some time with her dad in Kansas and living in London for four years with her mom. Not London, Texas but London, England. She said, “My sister and I picked up the British accent quickly, but also lost it quickly when we returned to Texas. I often hear people say they cannot tell where I’m from, because they cannot distinguish the accent.”
When asked what she would tell her younger self, Carol said, “Don’t look back. Only look forward and carry on.” Carry on she did. She learned layout and production art at The Art Institute of Houston, and did freelance graphic design while running the composing department of The Baytown Sun. Carol’s love for learning continued throughout her early career, even when she left her first stint at The Sun to work for a local print shop. She managed Gibson Printing for five years while finishing a Bachelor of Science degree and then a Master’s from the University of Houston.
It might not be the “Welcome Wagon,” but Carol’s service in the community lives up to her grandmother Edna’s efforts. She is an active Rotary Club member and is on the board of both the Baytown Chamber of Commerce and the Baytown-West Chambers County Economic Development Foundation. She is currently serving on the United Way Campaign Cabinet and was the secretary of the United Way’s Long-Term Recovery Team after Hurricane Harvey. She was also president of the Lions Club and Rotary Club when she lived in Liberty. “I appreciate all the service clubs and enjoy reporting on their good works,” Carol said.
She said reporting because that’s part of her current job as Publisher of The Baytown Sun. She has worked for the paper in three terms and has done “just about every job in the building.” She’s also not used to being on this side of the story which makes her story more fun to tell. When asked about her impact on the community, Carol said, “I try to make a difference in the community every day by publishing valuable information for readers to live, work, play, and be informed about their surroundings in the greater Baytown area.”
Despite her busy lifestyle, Carol remains dedicated to her family. Carol is a proud mother of three grown sons. She says she has always taught her children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews by example. She added, “Whole life balance is critical for a healthy lifestyle and effective leadership.”
When it comes to Women’s History Month, Carol recognizes the hard work and sacrifice women have made over time, including the right to vote and equal pay. For younger generations of women, Carol said, “Dream big and follow your dreams. If you put in the effort and get your education, one can accomplish anything you dream.” As for the community overall, she encourages everyone to read and to be kind.
Carol said she is humbled by this recognition and knows there are so many others who need to be honored. However, like any good reporter or publisher, she’s also not one to take credit. She ended with, “I am only doing my job.”