Past RI President William Skelton dies
William E. Skelton served as RI president from 1983 to 1984. Rotary Images
William E. Skelton, who served as RI president in 1983-84, died 30 August at the age of 89.
A former dean and director of 4-H programs at Virginia Tech, Skelton had been battling cancer for the past year.
"I truly do not know anybody who really lived and embodied the Rotary motto of Service Above Self more than Bill Skelton," says Douglas McAlister, past governor of District 7570 (Virginia). "He always displayed an endless vitality, imagination, and a degree of tenaciousness that I have never seen in anyone else and will probably never see again."
Skelton first joined the Rotary Club of Christiansburg-Blacksburg, Virginia, USA, in 1955. In addition to his term as RI president, he served in numerous capacities including as district governor; International Assembly group discussion leader; committee member and chair; Foundation trustee, chair, and consultant; director; and first vice president.
He was a recipient of the RI Service Above Self Award and The Rotary Foundation's Citation for Meritorious Service and Distinguished Service Award. He also received the PolioPlus Pioneer Award for his extraordinary service to PolioPlus.
"In that district, everybody looked up to him," recalls Jim Johnson, secretary of the neighboring Rotary Club of Blacksburg. "All the incoming and past district governors sought his counsel."
Leaving a legacy
Johnson's wife, Janet, a member of the Christiansburg-Blacksburg club, said Skelton's many legacies include a Rotary scholarship for international exchange students named after him.
"Because of him, we are able to sponsor three of those a year," she says. "His interest and his commitment to students and building international goodwill are a part of his legacy."
Skelton's RI theme, Share Rotary -- Serve People , helped Rotarians focus on promoting development in the areas of membership, community, vocation, and international relations as a means to achieve Rotary's humanitarian goals and make a difference in the world.
After his retirement from Virginia Tech in 1979, he served as dean emeritus, president of the Virgina Tech alumni association, and athletic association board member.
In 1983, the university presented him with the Alumni Distinguished Service Award and the Ruffner Medal, the school's most prestigious honor.
He was a strong proponent of 4-H, the largest out-of-school youth organization in the United States, throughout his career, and also served as director of the Virginia Cooperative Extension. The W.E. Skelton 4-H Conference Center was named after Skelton and his wife, Margaret (Peggy), in recognition of their service.
He is survived by his wife, son John K. Skelton, and daughter Jean S. Montague.