Staci Anne Swedeen-Skelly (Sign Guestbook)

Staci Anne Swedeen, also known as Staci Anne Swedeen-Skelly, beloved by many, passed away on December 20th, 2019, at her home in Knoxville, TN.

Staci was a playwright, an actress, a creative soul, a helper and friend to a thousand persons.  She touched people’s hearts, and inspired their minds to think, and dream, and feel, and wonder.  It is impossible to say how much she will be missed by all of those who knew her.

Staci was born in Mt. Vernon, Washington, on January 28th, 1955, the daughter of Florence Korber Swedeen and Everett Steig Swedeen.  Her brothers were Ronald Swedeen and Steven Swedeen, both of whom she cherished.

After attending High School in Mt. Vernon, she travelled, taught English in Japan, and returned to Seattle to gain a degree in theatre from the University of Washington.  She moved to New York City in the early 80s to pursue a career in theatre.  She acted and performed in numerous plays of many genres in the City.

On July 4th, 1984, she met her future husband, Christopher Skelly, at a Shakespearean actor’s party in Dobbs Ferry, New York.  They were engaged 9 days later, and married the following May 25th at the home of beloved friends, Tom Plum and Joan Hall, in Cardiff, New Jersey.

Staci and Christopher bought their first home in what was then the village of North Tarrytown and moved there in August, 1986.  Staci pursued playwrighting and teaching theatre.  Her play, The Goldman Project, was produced off Broadway in 2004, and she taught for many years at the Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven, Connecticut, helping to launch many extra-talented young actors and writers on into their own careers.  Staci worked frequently as a regular with Performance Plus, a Westchester based training and consulting firm.  Staci and Christopher were both active in the successful campaign to change the name of North Tarrytown to Sleepy Hollow in 1996.

In 1992, Staci and Christopher bought a small cottage on Muskoday Lake in the Catskills, and enjoyed 19 years of lakeside visiting, dearest friends, and other waterside activities.

In 2010, the family moved to Knoxville, TN.  They built a rental real estate empire of 13 homes, and Staci made great contributions to the beauty and design of every property they owned.

In 2018, they purchased a vacation home on Lake Norris in the Andersonville area.  Staci made it into beautiful house, while Christopher worked on the grounds.  It will forever be Staci and Christopher’s Lake House.

Staci was diagnosed later in 2018, and faced with courage, spirit, energy and heart her mutating cancer.  During that year, the couple made a once in a lifetime trip to the Mediterranean, sailing from Athens to Rome, with Dubrovnik, Venice, and Naples in between.

Staci is survived by a great number of people who love her deeply; her husband Christopher, her Nephew Trevor Swedeen and his family, so many of her closest friends in Knoxville, and all over the country.  She will be missed incalculably, forever.

A Memorial Service Celebration of Life for Staci will be held at The Fountain City Art Center, on January 28th, 2020, starting at 11:00 AM.    All who have known and cared for Staci are welcome.

Contributions of any amount or sort in Staci’s name may be made to the Cancer Support Center East Tennessee, 2230 Sutherland Ave., Knoxville, TN 37919  (Tel. 865-546-4661)

Gentry Griffey Funeral Chapel is honored to serve the Skelly family and invites you view and share your online condolences below.

51 guestbook entries for “Staci Anne Swedeen-Skelly”:

  1. Carolyn Corley says:

    I’m heartbroken to lose Staci, and yet I feel so fortunate to have known her and inspired by the strength she exhibited through the whole ordeal. I’m relieved her pain is over. Sending solace out to Chris and all of Staci’s friends and family.

  2. Bernie and Linda Wurtzburger says:

    Staci was a dear, kind soul and Linda and I were fortunate to have known her. Her play “The Goldman Project” will always have a special place in my heart.

  3. Elaine Bromka says:

    Staci, your imprint is forever. Much love ( and every time I cross the Tappan Zee/ Cuomo Bridge, I will shout out to you!) Elaine

  4. Cheryl c Fore says:

    So very blessed to have had Staci in my life! Comforting prayers are being sent.

  5. Margaret Rubick, Sleepy Hollow says:

    The light in the world burns a little brighter from Staci’s life here. I will miss her eloquent turn of phrase and her lovely presence.

  6. Judith Shahn says:

    To my dear friend – we met in the late 70’s in New York at Christensen’s deli. You were such an easy friend to have – you had boundless energy, humor – and irony and you were fiercely honest which I loved about you. When I moved out to Seattle, I saw you here and got to know your Northwest roots and we kept in touch when I would come to New York. Our last visit in Knoxville will always stay in my memory – you and Chris were wonderful hosts and I got to know your other life in Tennessee . You have left an indelible place in my heart and soul Staci –
    love always, Judy

  7. Miriam Levering says:

    Treasured in life by all who knew her, she is gone too soon. Her courage, her strength of character, her deep understanding of human beings, and her imagination and intelligence were inspiring to me and all of our common friends. As her treatments progressed, she took the time to compose honest, deep and beautiful posts for her many friends.Who she was and always will be shone forth in these unassuming masterpieces of the writers craft. I feel strongly that our karmic link with Staci will not end here. Blessed be.

  8. David Richards says:

    Staci, thank you deeply for sharing your joys and struggles through marvelous writing. You carried huge thoughts and persuaded others, me included, that we could too. Thank you for your love and friendship to Christopher whose goodness you recognized and nurtured. As all have said, you will be missed.

  9. Jennie and Brian Redling says:

    How poor are words when attempting to explain Staci, the goodness and light that embraced you in her presence and such a continence, naturally exuberant, a beaming smile on the edge of laughter and joy. That she was here is a gift that so enriched our souls that it is impossible it can die despite this poor world dimming without her. Everlasting love, our precious angel.

  10. Barbara Bennion says:

    Staci was a larger than life kind of friend. She lit up the room and made everyone smile. She forgave your faults, understood your intentions, and helped you achieve your dreams. There will never be another Staci. I loved her so much.

    • Jennie Redling says:

      Thank you for these words, Barbara, so true. And I am thankful to know you because Staci’s beautiful heart connected people, widening our circle, so many spokes of a wheel like the sun’s rays emanating from her brilliance. I love her with ever beat of my heart.

  11. Lorna Simons says:

    Staci was a beloved and inspiring friend for 50 years, and she was always a source of humor, thoughtful questions, and sage advice. I will miss her a lot.

  12. Irene Robbins says:

    Go ask the river
    which are longer
    its eastward flowing waters
    or the thoughts which fill us
    at this parting hour

    Li T’ai Po (Tang Dynasty)

  13. Helen McDonald says:

    Staci, your love and creative spirit will always be with us. Your courage is truly an inspiration for us to treasure. May you now be at peace as you rest in the Light.

  14. Sheila Lappin says:

    your grace, courage and
    strength inspired us in our Monday Night Hugglers. I so miss your infectious smile! Although I’m thankful that you got your Christmas wish, those of us left behind do have an empty spot in our hearts.
    With fondness, Sheila Lappin

  15. Nancy Nickerson says:

    Staci, you’ve always been a “super connector” drawing friends everywhere you went, a thousand friends is not at all an exaggeration. You had the energy and life for thousands more. It was a grace to call you my friend for over 50 years. Being in your presence always taught me something if only to laugh.i am a better person for knowing you. Christopher, thank you for so generously in sharing her . Thank you for being the best husband to her and allowing Staci to shine even brighter through your love, attention and support . I love you both, Nancy Nickerson

  16. Jim Ramsay says:

    Staci was a shining light in an increasingly darkening world. She was a member of what came to be called The Playwrights Breakfast, which met in Nyack, NY every month, or when Angelo successfully herded all the cats together. I felt not only close to Staci, but at those breakfasts I also I could not help but feel “in her presence.” She had presence. She radiated warmth, humor, wisdom, compassion and frankness. I went to see her perform her one-person show about her raccoon experience. In fact I went to see it twice, once alone, another time with a friend. Dearest Staci ….

  17. Kathleen Warnock says:

    Oh, Staci. How much you brought to so many…and it’s impossible to say how much you will be missed. Love to you and yours always.

  18. Barbara Ceconi says:

    Staci was a big part of my life on New Broadway. I will miss her. Wonderful memories will remain in my heart.

  19. Lynn and Bill Weinig says:

    We are so sorry for your loss, Christopher. The time we spent with her and you in Costa Rica is a dear memory of laughter, family and new friends. I can still recall her smile and her easy laugh clearly after all these years, and her bright light will remain with all who knew her. Wishing you peace.

  20. Joe Finucane says:

    On a Monday morning, around 9:30, I’d be flat on my back under a sink, or crawling around an attic, or standing in a basement wondering what to do about the plumbing, when I would hear “Coffee!” and I’d drop what I was doing to come to the kitchen of whatever house we were working on, sit down like a civilized person (she insisted on that), and gulp and gobble and gossip for half an hour. Staci made her way through my stomach to my heart, and there she will remain.
    I’m not the only one she was nice to. After a day’s work, Staci and I were standing on the terrace of that dark hillside house on Edonia when a baby squirrel came up. “Joe! Joe! What are we going to do?” The squirrel came over to me, climbed on my shoe, and looked up. “Joe! He loves you!” To my relief, he then went over to Staci. She scooped him up, took him home, and a day or two later announced that she had found a squirrel rehabilitator (who knew?), and this person would take care of him and then release him to the wild.

  21. Helen Bailey says:

    It has only been two years that we had to get to know each other. My first experience of your talent was in “Moon Over Buffalo”. But then I got to meet you and Christopher up and personal. I realized right then that I was in the presence of wonderful talent. I wish now that we had more conversations about your life and your accomplishments. I’m blessed that I experienced you even for a very short period. Thank you for introducing me to Rummikub! Of course you will be missed by family and friends but there are so many memories you left for all of us. Rest easy and don’t worry about Christopher, he will be just fine and well looked after and doing a lot of fishing.

  22. Laurie Almy says:

    I stand within a crowd of thousands who will never forget you.

  23. Madelaine Warren says:

    Our neighbor on Lake Muskoday for 19 years, Staci Swedeen, became a friend for life. We’ll never forget Staci’s laughter ringing out across the lake. That joy will stay with us, even in our sadness.
    Madelaine and Arthur Warren

  24. Bette Korber says:

    My magnificent cousin’s smile is in my heart. I loved how kind she was to me when we were kids — she was 3 years older, infinitely cooler, but she always made time for me. Big hugs when we got to Florence’s in Mount Vernon, then inventing games for her little cousin. I loved how well she told a story, and how well she listened. I loved the way she was bold with a scarf. I loved how vibrant she was, that when she walked into a group everything got a little brighter. I loved the joy she felt when anything went right in others’ lives around her; my little joys were hers and she would amplify any bit of happiness I would offer up to her both with love. She was wise, and I loved how competent she was, which I think she got from her mom. I loved her relationship with her ever-teasing, very quick, big brother Steve (I really miss him too, his fish-tales, quick smile and gravely laugh is gone now for several years…), and how much she loved Steve’s wonderful kids. I’m going to miss so much being Facebook friends, her clever comments. It was very sweet that one of the last things she shared was her pride in her nephew Trevor’s graduation, and I was so glad to learn of it. My best memory with her was walking with her and quietly talking in Red Lodge, Montana, a family reunion and a bunch of cousins went on a hike. It was a joy to just be with her in such a beautiful place, appreciating it together.

    Her plays were amazing creations, when Three Forks was just recently on stage again, my family read it and enjoyed it, and I re-read it, and Staci transported me back to our Montana Auntie’s kitchens. (The essence of all my Auntie’s Montana kitchens was the backdrop of the play — the first place you enter in a farm house is the kitchen, it’s the place you are greeted with coffee in a mug, and good conversation – weather a common topic, food often, and politics, depending on the Auntie). The conversation in Staci’s farm kitchen play revolved around life and death and friendship in a very straight up no frills sort of way. It was a play that honored life.

    Just a little memory, neither here nor there, but once when I stayed in New York with Staci and Chris in their tall skinny house in Sleepy Hollow, I got to see her do her one woman show about when she was bit by the rabid raccoon and the aftermath. (She was, of course, a very rare kind of soul, the kind of person who could transform the experience of being bitten by a rabid raccoon into a life affirming, hilarious, thought provoking one-woman play!) We had a long drive to the theater, and her headlights caught the light in a raccoon’s eyes by the road. 10 minutes later, there was another raccoon, looking over its shoulder at us as we zoomed past. When the second one showed up, we felt like they were waddling right into her story, and she feigned surprise when the theater seats were filled with students, not raccoons (she was performing the play at a college where she was teaching at the time).

    I will love you Staci, for as long as I am. I miss you.

    • Jennie Redling says:

      Bette, thank you for bringing my most beloved friend to life with these so very recognizable and detailed accounts of Staci’s luminous and transcendent heart and spirit. I too, have countless adoring and adored moments locked inside giving me strength, hope and knowledge of how powerful one can be. My love for
      her will outlast time.

  25. ERIC H SIGWARD says:


  26. HOWARD LIPSON says:

    Staci, how grateful I am to have experienced your vibrancy! Your generosity of spirit resulted in new friendships I would never have enjoyed and in turn, plays I never would have written! Bless your rest.

  27. Jack Heifner says:

    The laughter, the joy, the smile, the wit, the wisdom, the friendship, the kindness, the talent, the years we worked together and the loving heart she shared with her friends and her audiences will be remembered forever. I feel so blessed to have had her in my life (thanks to James McLure). He, Staci and I sat on the porch at New River Dramatists many nights sharing the agony and the fun of being playwrights together. Her four plays I did in Texas added so much to the school and the lives of my students. Most of all she was an original writer and performer with vision and humor. I do indeed pardon “you” for living, Staci. I am so grateful to have been on the journey with such an incredible and gifted person.

  28. April Duvic says:

    Staci – you were the first person I know I ever loved outside of my immediate family. I’m so grateful for you and our lifelong connection. You were always my number one confidante, the best sounding board, the most stalwart source of encouragement and the person who loved and supported me so fiercely. I love you so much for all of it. I feel so lucky that I have had so much of your care, time, wisdom, consciousness and heart in my life. Truly – I am so very blessed that you have given me so much of your life force over the past 64+ years. Thank you! Here is one of my favorite poems that expresses much of what I feel for you, my dearest, dearest friend. I love you, Staci. And always will!


    i carry your heart
    by e. e. cummings

    i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart) i am never without it (anywhere

    i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)

    i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)

    and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you

    here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

    and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

    and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

  29. Kristina Bailey says:

    Ron and I first met Staci and Christopher as neighbors, but over the past 8 years we quickly grew to be friends. We always admired Staci’s creativity and eloquent prose. Her vibrant and charismatic soul will be missed. She had a way of making you feel special by showing a genuine interest in your life and focused the discussions on you and the importance of your contributions. We look forward to continuing our friendship with Christopher.

  30. John Conway says:

    Oh our Staci. Always vibrant, so cosmopolitan, forever supportive of equality and diversity, courageously faced her disease and her death, she left an indelible mark on all of us. Our challenge now is to find ways to match her exuberance for living and seek to find beauty in all of life’s challenges and rewards. Thank you Stace for showing us the way with charm and bravery.

  31. Jola Kunicka says:

    Staci, my Tarrytown yoga friend with her infectious laughter and kindness. I am very privileged that I was able to spent some quality time with you at the studio, and at friends gatherings around. Your smile and warmth will never be forgotten.

  32. Ira Elenko says:

    Staci, you will surely be missed. Your courage and strength fighting this horrific battle is just another indication of the awesome being that you were. Along with my found memories of our many conversations and collection of New Yorker cartoons that we shared over the years you will never be forgotten.

    One of our favorites “We thought it was a rough patch, but it turned out to be our life”

    Rest in peace. Love Ira & Laura

  33. Sura and Nancy says:

    We will always remember Staci: the beauty you created, your fierce voice, and your generous hospitality.
    We were blessed to have met you! —-Sura & Nancy

  34. Greg Congleton says:

    Radiant Staci, I will miss your honesty, your sophisticated yet down-to-earth humor and generous spirit. You helped me become a better writer and delighted me with your acting and your wit. I’ll never look at a raccoon without thinking of you and the twinkle in your eye. Shine on!

  35. Nancy Steed says:

    On rare occasions one has the honor, privilege and blessing of meeting, knowing and becoming close friends with someone who is unparalleled and extraordinary. I had that great fortune when I got to know Staci and we shared a cherished friendship of many years. She has touched my life in profound ways and left an indelible mark on my heart. I wish I had even a bit of her amazing talent when it comes to writing so I could do justice to all that is in my memory and my heart now but no matter how hard I tried, it would still fall short. Staci was all about joy, energy, humor, fun, caring, talent, openness, thoughtfulness, integrity, authenticity — well, as I said, nothing I could write would do justice to Staci. She could light up a room just by being in it. There are many items in my home to remind me of her being part of our lives – not that I need any reminders! Also, I had said to her after seeing her one woman show “Pardon Me For Living” that when a play makes you laugh, cry and think, it doesn’t get better than that. And they don’t get better than Staci. I will miss her more than I can begin to express but I am eternally grateful to have been able to call her my cherished and close friend. She will live on in my heart and memories forever. Also, heartfelt condolences to Chris who clearly was her rock in so many important and different ways.

  36. Barbara Bennion says:

    Dear Nancy Steed,

    Thank you for your beautiful, heartfelt tribute to Staci. You said it all. Staci touched all of our lives, and hopefully we will be better people because of her.

    Barbara Bennion

  37. David Hick & Lynne Kassabian says:

    Staci, your love of friends and laughter, your boundless creativity, and your exquisite generosity will continue to enlighten and inspire us. With love and gratitude, dear friend.

  38. Lois H Skelly says:

    Staci, You always told me when I was upset or anxious, or stuck or frustrated to take one positive action, one forward movement. So here it goes: Thank you for the shared glasses of wine and cups of coffee; the walks, the talks; the overnights and the extended family festivities. Thank you for your generousity of spirit. . . for sharing your perspective and wisdom and communicating them so well. Your fullness of life spilled over into mine, and I am grateful (but still sad).

  39. Patricia Pippert says:

    Staci: Will you look at all these posts, girl? What a mark you left on the world! And not just in the last 64 years but forever because all these memories & stories will go forward and touch other people. Your plays will be performed and impact even more folks. And your very essence will just linger in the cosmos! I wish we had been closer geographically but I loved the time and experiences we shared back in NYC. Others have said it far better than I: your smile, your wisdom, your authenticity, your creativity, your wit, your humor, your tolerance and patience, your forgiveness. It was an honor and a joy to be your friend. I look forward to connecting with some of these other beautiful souls who you called your friends.

  40. Jan Strand says:

    To My Wonderful Staci! You have meant so much to me and to so many of us! From being an incredibly talented actress and playwright to being the funniest and most compassionate friend! The plays that you wrote, especially Pardon Me for Living and Three Forks were so moving, as you took your inspiration from real life. But, most of all, your spirit of caring and generosity can never be matched! No one could light up a room like you, my friend. No one! I will always be grateful for the time we roomed together in New York City and for the times we were able to come and visit you and Chris. But most of all, I will always be grateful to have had you as my friend. The world has been left a little darker now without your wonderful spirit. Rest well, my friend! You are loved and forever in my heart.

  41. Pook Pfaffe says:

    I was blessed to work and play with Staci. She is a part of me now and forever. So sad to lose her so soon.

  42. Nate Jones says:

    My first memory of Staci, was also my first visit to New York. I remember Chris pulling up to the front of their house on New Broadway in Terrytown (which is now rightfully named Sleepy Hollow) and as I got out of the car after our short scenic ride from the airport in White Plains and headed up the short cement stairs Mrs. Staci Swedeen was already coming down the sidewalk to greet me for the first time. This kind action I will never forget. I would have the pleasure of getting to know Staci little by little over the next 18 or 19 years, even having the pleasure of speaking to her mother, Florence on one occasion. Staci, was kind in so many ways and it was easy to see and feel that because I have been the recipient of that kindness many times.

    I love you Staci Anne Swedeen-Skelly for all you did to better enrich my life. You helped me in ways words cannot express. I am a better man for having known you and been able to be apart of your life. Thank you for sharing a piece of yourself with me, you are forever and always, in my heart.

  43. Don Anderson says:

    Thank you for sharing a piece of your life. You are always in my heart.

    Don Anderson

  44. Lee Ann Rogers says:

    Staci…what can I say? I’ve had nine family members in from out of state a few days before Christmas when she passed…then my husband Steve and I endured a cold/flu virus on the 27th onward. Through all of this, Staci has been in my thoughts and dreams. Where do I even start to describe how I feel about our beautiful Staci? I haven’t known her that long, yet I feel as if I’ve known her forever. I met her through Jayne Morgan when they were getting Flying Anvil Theatre off the ground. My husband, Steve, and I sponsored their first fund raising house party. I then took my mom and sister to see Staci perform in “Pardon Me For Living,” about her near death experience with a rabid raccoon. The performance was so moving. We laughed and cried…hence the comedy/tragedy of theatre. We helped on the Board and Staci and I had an immediate connection. I don’t really know why, but I think it was because she had such a gift of connecting with people. She always wanted to know about “you.” I tried so hard to ask her things about herself, but she always brought it back around to YOU! Wow…and that contagious smile is beyond words! I’ve printed out all of her writings during this ordeal because they’re spectacular in their insight to her soul. I really thought I had more time with her, and I’m feeling so sad that I can’t have more time with her. The world will so miss that bright smile, the bright Spirit of Staci! What a testament of life she has left for all of us. She will always be with us!

  45. Jennie Redling says:

    As 2020 begins, Staci is with me – I feel her every morning when I tell her I love her as I rise but with this New Year I feel her strength for the first time supporting my pain at continuing without her with hope. Everlasting love, my angel, everlasting gratitude.

  46. Susan Suntree says:

    I find it hard to write about condolences, Chris. I’m still stunned and full of sadness about Stacy’s passing. I send you love and heartfelt thoughts that travel in stillness toward a reconciliation with this new moment. Love, Susan

  47. Ann Montgomery says:

    Staci was a good friend. She befriended me in the early ‘80s, when we were in Ed Koven’s Method Acting class. For some reason, she called me “Miss Ann” , so I called her “Miss Staci”. I’m very lucky to have had Staci in my life

    I still remember the first scene she performed in Ed’s class. It was from the “Theatre of the Absurd”. She portrayed a horse, in a low cut, black, taffeta dress. She was so beautiful and, even more importantly, so brave and willing to make risky choices.. All of these things are who Staci was. The only thing, not apparent in this scene, was her love of comedy. In fact, Staci also studied comedy improvisation and was very excited to audition for Saturday Night Live.

    Staci was very committed to self improvement. I remember her coming to my apartment, with Shakty Gawain’s book, “Creative Visualization”. She suggested we do the visualization together, to find ones spirit guide. It really worked. She used to journal as outlined in ”The Artist’s Way”. a very powerful meditation, where one can work out issues almost instantly. She did not have an unexamined life. I loved that she shared these things with me.

    When Staci went on tour with the musical “Annie”, she spent a few days at my apartment, during a break. This was over the 4th of July, and she was invited to a party. Later that evening, she told me that she thought she’d meant a man that could work on a relationship with her. That was Christopher Skelly, who she was married to, for the rest of her life.

    It was while on tour with “Annie”, or shortly after, that Staci began to question acting. She said something about, not wanting to spend so much time backstage, waiting to go on. She even took a career change class. She learned that actors don’t usually take that class. That’s when she began to study playwriting st the Terry Schrieber Studio.

    I think all of us who have read or seen her plays performed, are glad she did. It’s even greater to see Staci perform her own plays. She knew that even in the most difficult times, there’s humor. Such a delicate balance!

    I mourn the loss of my friend. I’m grateful for having had her friendship. I’m angry, that she’s gone so soon.


  48. Christopher J Skelly says:

    Thank you all for these beautiful thoughts, memories, hopes, and inspirations. We all know that words cannot fully express, or perhaps even near express, what we feel for Staci. But these words shine the way forward and will be recorded and treasured forever…

  49. Nancy Nickerson says:

    Ann, Thank you for you memories of “ when Staci met Chris”. It feels wonderful to have those details! Wishing us all well in learning to live with our loss of this incredible woman from our lives.

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