Jim Skelton

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PP James Frederick (Jim) Skelton
May 8, 1920 - March 5, 2008

"I first had the privilege of meeting James Frederick Skelton when he was invited to join the Rotary Club of Richmond in 1975. In 1982-1983 he served at the Club's President during which period our Club was the beneficiary of his skills and talents as a leader, which he no doubt acquired during his naval career which earned him the rank of Lt. Commander in the Royal Canadian Navy.

It was that training which allowed him to keep our club focused on the principles and aims and objectives of Rotary International in order to make a profound and positive difference in the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves, both locally and in the world at large.

Jim was a mentor to those who chose to follow in his path and he taught us the value of never allowing anyone to make you compromise your own sense of what is right or wrong particularly if you are supposed to be in a position of leadership and mentorship, except for valid and ethical reasons of course.

While his demeanor in the performance of his duties voluntary or otherwise was usually very straightforward, calm to begin with and to the point he was certainly not averse to adding a little marine salt to his oration in order to achieve his objectives of keeping you on track.

I recall at one of the Assembly meetings in my home when the men were in the recreation room and the ladies who in those days used to have a separate meeting were in the living room just off of the recreation room, Jim rose to make one of his usual "closing" remarks whenever a discussion that was getting nowhere fast.

He started off very quietly as he usually did before rising into a crescendo, when all of sudden just as he was getting to the real "salt and pepper" part of his monologue, shall we say, the door to the room was suddenly and abruptly closed. It was none other than Hazel of course, who no doubt was well versed as to his timing under such conditions before he reached the high point! That put an end to the discussion since it certainly brought about a sudden change of topic!

For his service to Rotary, in 1983, our Club presented Jim with the Paul Harris Award, Rotary's highest Award for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations between peoples of the world...

A few days after my return from holidays I phoned him as was my custom to do before and after I went out of town for any length of time and he did likewise, and he mentioned to me that he had just returned from spending 10 days in the hospital.
A day or two later I happened to be a block away from the O'Keefe at 11.30 a.m. so I phoned him to go for lunch. He said come over here, which I knew he would say since he had begun to curtail his activities a bit and the food there was good.
We had a great lunch and get together as usual but I could sense that the effects of the pneumonia was taking a toll on him as evidenced by his use of a walker which he did not have when we had lunch a few weeks before.
Little did I realize that that was to be the last of our many social get togethers which had started soon after we first met in 1975 and discovered that his and Hazel's wedding Anniversary and my birthday were on the same day - so celebrating them together became an annual event. They were the first to arrive each year so that Jim could mix us a Manhattan, Martini or Caesar before the crowd arrived.
I shall miss Jim very dearly as we no doubt all will. He was indeed a very good friend and mentor and I am very privileged to have been able to share such a special and long lasting friendship and relationship, first with him and Hazel and later for the past several years with him and Monica.
Our Condolences to the Skelton family and we thank you for sharing your dear parents, grand and great grand parents with us - at one time or another."
- Wilbur Walrond March 11, 2008.