Born in Salt Lake City, she moved at age 6 with her family to Denver, where she graduated from Cherry Creek High School. She moved back to Utah to study fashion merchandising at the University of Utah, where she met her husband, Earl Skidmore.
After she graduated, the couple was married and moved to Palo Alto. She became an assistant clothing buyer at Macy's until 1974, when she changed her career direction and went to work running the orthopedic nursing department of Kaiser Hospital in Redwood City.
In 1998, she began her own company in her garage, called Arte Italica, designing handmade Italian dinnerware, products now sold by major retailers.
She is survived by her husband, daughter Jennifer Neeley, son Clark, parents Val and Helen Dean, siblings Val, Kristin and Patricia Dean, and two granddaughters.
The family said she was a natural at connecting with people, and her absence will be particularly missed at any party or holiday event "where she infused the room with her infectious joy of life."