We mourn the passing of Isaac Newton Skelton IV, one of Missouri’s truly great men.
Ike, as he was known in the 4th Congressional District, was a man of his time and place.
His hometown of Lexington sits on high ground just down the Missouri River from Kansas City.
That proximity provided Skelton a formative opportunity — his father was a friend of Harry Truman during the future president’s tenure as a Jackson County commissioner.
Seventeen-year-old Ike attended Truman’s 1949 inauguration and set a life course that would eventually take him back to the national capitol.
Ike was an Eagle Scout, Wentworth Military Academy cadet, University of Missouri Law School graduate and state senator on his way to the U.S. House of Representatives where he served 17 terms.
He was a Democrat who carried his district overwhelmingly for 30 years because Republicans voted for him.
In a district historically defined and politically divided by the Civil War, his love of the military and social conservatism reflected the past and present of those he served.
And serve he did.
He was ever present throughout the district. He rode in parades, ate ice cream in church basements and knew his constituents by name.
Anyone who cared about the state of the nation or the state of Missouri had his ear. He was known and he was respected.
He believed in a strong defense and used the strength of the Armed Services Committee to do his part keeping us safe.
Whiteman Air Force Base and Fort Leonard Wood are critical components of our military machine and important contributors to Missouri’s economy because of Ike’s work.
Always the thrifty rural Missourian, he never let down his guard when it came to military spending. “Oversight, oversight, oversight,” he said.
Anyone who knew him at all knows Ike did always what he thought was right and best for his district and his country. In the end the political times changed around him.
Doing the right thing became less important than saying the right thing and the voters sent him home to Lexington for his final years.
Never one to sit around, he joined a Kansas City law firm and went back to his Missouri life.
In these toxic political times, men such as Ike Skelton are not enough appreciated.
Without his hard work and level-headed approach to government we would be less ready to confront our enemies.
Ike Skelton was a man of the people, a reflection of his roots and an excellent public servant.
Page 2 of 2 - He was also one of the most genuine and friendly Americans who will ever sit in the halls of Congress.
He will be missed.