JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --Leonard Skinner, the no-nonsense basketball coach and gym teacher whose name is forever linked with Jacksonville's legendary Lynyrd Skynyrd, died in his sleep early Monday morning. He was 77.
His son, also named Leonard Skinner, said his father had a bowl of ice cream just past midnight - he loved ice cream - and then was found dead around 2:30 a.m. He had been a resident of St. Catherine Laboure Manor, a nursing home in Riverside, for about a year, his son said. He had Alzheimer's disease.
Mr. Skinner never asked to become part of rock 'n roll lore. He was just a by-the-book gym teacher at Robert E. Lee High School who, in the late 1960s, sent some students to the principal's office because their hair was too long, touching their collars in the back.
Those students turned out to be members of a rock band that named themselves Lynyrd Skynyrd in a smart-aleck tribute to the coach.