Skelton died last week at the age of 81 after 34 years in the House of Representatives, many of those years as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
Lexington minister Everett Hannon Jr. praised Skelton as a “warrior.” Two of Skelton’s sons are military officers.
Hannon and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, a Methodist minister, spoke at the 72-minute service held at Wentworth Military Academy, where Skelton earned an Associate of Arts degree in 1950. He later won his law degree and became Lafayette County prosecutor, ignoring for the time being the urgings of former President Harry Truman that he run for Congress.
Skelton was elected to the Missouri Senate in 1970 and sponsored a massive rewrite of the state’s criminal code, the first revision of the state criminal laws in 140 years. Skelton was elected to the House of Representatives in 1976 and served until losing a bid for an 18th term in 2010. Only northeast Missouri Congressman Clarence Cannon served more time in the House than Skelton. Cannon served 42 years.
He recently had been appointed Chairman of the National World War I Centennial Commission.