Arthur J. “Art” Decio, an Elkhart-born businessman and philanthropist who was never happier than when he was helping others, died peacefully at home on Friday, November 6, 2020 surrounded by beloved family and friends. He was 90.
Decio, a man dedicated to his family, faith and the welfare of everyone whose life he could touch, was an Elkhart original. A first generation American, he became one of the most successful businessmen in Indiana via Skyline Corporation, a mobile home and recreational vehicle company. Decio appeared on the cover of Time magazine in a 1965 article about successful businessmen under 40.
Decio was educated at Marmion Military Academy and DePaul University in Chicago. While at Marmion, he met Patricia George, the love of his life. They wed on Jan. 6, 1951, and were married 59 years, until her death in 2010.
In 1952, Decio took over Skyline Coach Co., which his father had started in a rented garage, and led Skyline to become the nation’s largest mobile home builder. A leader in the manufactured housing industry and a member of the Mobile Home Hall of Fame, Decio took pride in providing affordable housing to Americans.
He was a life member of the Elkhart County chapter of the NAACP and was active in the Elkhart Urban League. He was a large contributor and fundraiser for the 1968 Democratic presidential campaign of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and introduced Kennedy at a rally in downtown Elkhart that drew 9,000 people. Within months, Decio would serve as an honorary pallbearer at Kennedy’s funeral. He was an advisor to local, state, and national leaders of both parties.
Decio served on the boards of businesses, banks and nonprofits and received dozens of awards. He was among the founders of WNIT-TV, and with his wife underwrote “Sesame Street” and other public television programming. He was awarded the station’s first Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999. He was a founding director of the Community Foundation of Elkhart County.
Decio served as a trustee at the University of Notre Dame (1971- 2001) and later was appointed a life member and fellow. In 1989, he received Notre Dame’s Rev. Howard J. Kenna C.S.C. Award, as well as the Rev. John J. Cavanaugh C.S.C. Award for distinguished public service and community involvement from the National Notre Dame Alumni Association. In 1990, the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley named him Man of the Year. A lifelong friend of Notre Dame President Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, Decio was deeply moved and honored to be named a Hesburgh Trustee in 2018.
Three U.S. presidents appointed Decio to federal commissions. He served on the boards of more than 40 civic, religious, educational, and financial organizations including the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He joined the international board of Special Olympics at the request of founders Sargent Shriver and Eunice Kennedy Shriver and helped organize the International Special Olympics at Notre Dame in 1987.
Decio leaves a rich legacy of serving others. He believed everyone should do their best to help those in need. “I’m a very wealthy guy… in values.”
Decio made a huge impact on the manufactured housing industry and we appreciate all he did. Decio is survived by his five children including Terrance Decio, Wisconsin Housing Alliance Board Member.
Decio has many other accolades and you can view his full obituary from Palmer Funeral Homes. https://www.palmerfuneralhomes.com/obituary/Arthur-Decio