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By David Knopf/Richmond News
Congressional icon Ike Skelton, who died this week at 81, spoke to Ray County’s DAR chapter earlier this month and followed that a day later with a book signing at one of his favorite haunts, River Reader in Lexington.
Richmond-area residents who attended the DAR meeting or crossed the bridge named in his honor to hear him in Lexington knew Skelton as a soft-spoken leader who ardently supported the military, particularly bases in Missouri.
Ray County leaders, including 8th Circuit Court Associate Judge Jim Thompson and Eastern Commissioner Alan Dale said that when Skelton was introduced to someone and learned their name he never forgot it.
“He was a great asset for Ray County and he will be truly missed,” Dale said.
Western Commissioner Mike Twyman described Skelton as a great man for the people.
Skelton came to Hardin to visit scouts who were just starting Eagle projects, Skelton – an Eagle Scout himself – offered encouragement and advice.
“He didn’t need to do that, but it just came from his heart,” Presiding Commissioner Bob King said.
Thompson said he admired Skelton’s ability as a statesman – something lacking in today’s partisan Congress.
“I’m just so saddened,” the judge said. “I remember Ike riding in a yellow Mustang at the Mushroom Festival a few years ago. I snapped a pictured and sent it to Ike. He called and thanked me and used it in his last re-election campaign.”
State leaders also lined up to pay him tribute, including Gov. Jay Nixon, a fellow Democrat, and Attorney General Chris Koster.
Nixon said Skelton had “inspired us all with his quiet dignity and tireless commitment to America’s men and women in uniform.