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Wayne Skinner, the recyclable-collecting 'governor of Georgetown,' dead at 66

Wayne Skinner, pictured here in 2008, was known around the Georgetown neighbourhood of St. John's for collecting recyclables. Skinner died Thursday at the age of 66. (Zach Goudie/CBC - image credit)
Wayne Skinner, pictured here in 2008, was known around the Georgetown neighbourhood of St. John's for collecting recyclables. Skinner died Thursday at the age of 66. (Zach Goudie/CBC - image credit)
Zach Goudie/CBC
Zach Goudie/CBC

A fixture of the Georgetown area of St. John's, affectionately dubbed the neighbourhood's governor, has died.

Wayne Skinner could often be seen collecting recyclables in the neighbourhood or the city's east end, pushing a custom-made shopping cart and wearing a bright high-vis jacket. Skinner died Thursday at the age of 66.

Ruth Lawrence, who met Skinner when he came to her home looking for recyclables in 2008, says she quickly formed a friendship with him — like every one of her other neighbours.

"He just knocked on the door and you went out, and here was this bright, chipper smile asking if you had any recyclables. I mean who was ever going to say no to Wayne Skinner? Nobody," Lawrence said Tuesday.

"We would collect them for Wayne, and in fact we would keep them inside because we wanted to make sure that we got to see him. He was just lovely."

Lawrence said she'll remember Skinner for his kindness and warmth — and his ingenuity when it came to recycling. His obituary states that he was St. John's' top recycler.

"Wayne was one of those people who saw the opportunity in recycling. You know, to make that bit of extra cash and to keep the city clean. He never walked past anything if he thought it could be recycled."

WATCH | See Wayne Skinner speak with the CBC in this archival profile from 2008:

Skinner's collection was hampered by after he was hit by a vehicle on his route in April 2020. He returned to collecting recyclables in the fall, but Lawrence says he never fully recovered from his injuries.

Lawrence and other residents of Georgetown created a fundraising page to help Skinner and his family and were overwhelmed by the support.

"He was a very special guy to a lot of people.… Every cent that he was given, he earned that. Because he built that goodwill up in this community and brought the community together in a way that not many people do," she said.

"I think it says that when you give love, you will get love back. And what better way to describe Wayne? He was a very loving, open, non-judgmental, caring person. He really was, and he got that back doubly, triply. He got back what he gave out."

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