After graduating from Stevenson High School in 1959, Arthur Wayne Skaar enlisted in the United States Navy. After four years of Navy life Art returned home, and by early 1966 became engaged to marry Stevenson resident Wilma Hansen. Their wedding was planned for August 1966.
By the Spring of 1966, Art had been hired as a Deputy Sheriff for Skamania County. Art was proud to hold the position of Deputy Sheriff, and looked forward to serving his community.
On June 13th, 1966, Art was scheduled to work the swing shift. Prior to the start of his shift Art had lunch with his parents, Clarence and Edna Skaar. Unbeknownst to them, this would be their last meal together.
Shortly after the start of his shift, Art was dispatched to the west end of Skamania County. A Mrs. Juanita Ahrendt had called the Sheriff’s Office to report she was having trouble with her 15 year old son, John. Apparently John had been drinking alcohol, and she needed help dealing with him.
During the short time Art had been employed as a Deputy, he had learned a greater part of his job was conflict resolution. He might have had to make an arrest from time to time, but his wish was to bring peace back to a broken or dysfunctional home.
Art had prepared himself for a teenager that had been drinking, and disobeying his mother. Art had probably responded to these calls before, and believed there would be many more during his law enforcement career.
In 1966, Skamania County’s radio system would not cover most of the county. In fact, shortly after Art left radio range, his dispatch received another call from Mrs. Ahrendt. She reported John now had a rifle and was threatening to use it if officers responded. Art was heading into an ambush, and there was no way to warn him.
Washington State Patrol Trooper Dick Arnold was informed of the situation, and responded from Stevenson, attempting to catch Art. Trooper Arnold responded at speeds in excess of 100 mph, making numerous attempts to contact Deputy Skaar by every means possible.
When Art arrived at the Ahrendt home, he exited his patrol car for the last time. As Art took his last steps toward the front of the house, he was likely planning to counsel the young man about his need to obey his mother, and that he should not be drinking alcohol at his age. As Art walked up to the door, taking his last few breaths on this earth, he was planning to soon be helping someone in need.
Inside the home was John Ahrendt. As he watched Art approach the door, he raised his 30.06 rifle and took aim through a window in the door. One shot rang out. The bullet struck Art in the neck, ending his life.
A short time later, Trooper Arnold arrived to find Art’s body, just outside the door of the home.
A brother, a son, a fiancée, a friend, a public servant, gone forever.
But is he really? Art is on the minds of each and every Skamania County Sheriff’s Office employee. We have each responded to calls, or dispatched others to calls similar to this incident. We have approached doors on “routine” calls, paused, and stepped to the side to take that extra moment to listen to what is happening inside. Deputy Skaar only had a few months to serve his community in life, but in memory he will continue to serve.
Arthur Wayne Skaar, you will be with us forever.