LEXINGTON, Mo. — He spent 34 years in Congress representing Lexington, Mo., and nearly his whole adult life serving his hometown. On Sunday, neighbors, friends, family, dignitaries and even strangers paid their respects to former Congressman Ike Skelton in Lexington, Mo. He will be laid to rest Monday, Nov. 4.
“We were here today as a group to bid our farewell to an honorable and a good man,” Douglas Harvey said.
Harvey remembers Skelton as Brother Skelton. Both were members of the Lexington Masonic Lodge.
“As a brother, I only sat in lodge with him one time,” Harvey said. “It was a wonderful time being a Mason, was very dear to his heart and he always lived the Masonic life, the good life.
People from all walks of life walked into the flag-lined entrance at the Wentworth Military Academy Campus in Lexington and paid their respects to Skelton.
Skelton graduated from Wentworth and dreamed of becoming a solider, but polio kept that dream from becoming a reality. Later, that desire pushed him to fight for the military once he won the Fifth District congressional seat where he served his constituents for 34 years.
“He felt so deeply indebted to them that he gave all — he gave more than most people would for the military,” Tom Butler, friend, said. “He was one of a kind. He bent over backwards for everybody — farmers, military, scouting movement, everything.”
Butler knew Skelton for more than 50 years. They two met when Skelton was a young lawyer in Lexington.
“Ike never knew a stranger,” Butler said. “Wherever you saw him, whatever he was doing he would say hi and you always got the feeling he was listening to what you had to say.”
And it’s those kinds of memories that remind friends of their great loss.
“If you can imagine a shooting star when it burns out, the loss to the heaves, that’s what Ike is to this area,” Butler said. “It’s a loss for the United States.”
Skelton passed away at a Washington hospital on Tuesday, Oct. 29, after a battle with pneumonia. He was 81.