William A. Skinner, champion, left this earth on Monday, October 5, 2015 after a fierce bout with pancreatic cancer.
Born in Wilmington, Delaware, Skinner (as he was known to all) left home at 17 to join the U.S. Navy and toured the world aboard the U.S.S. Canberra. He was an amateur boxer and worked as a sheet-metal worker. On a bet, he picked up the javelin and days later won the Middle Atlantic AAU title. He went on to earn a scholarship to the University of Tennessee, sweeping the NCAA, AAU, and USTFF titles in 1970. He was a member of the New York Athletic Club, earned four All-American designations, won five National Championships, and was captain of the United States Track & Field Team. He also captained the men's track and field team at the 1971 Pan-American games in Cali, Columbia. He earned notoriety for being removed from the UT track team for refusing to shave his mustache, a feature article in Sports Illustrated, and status as one of the best javelin throwers in the world. His image appears (uncredited) on the side of the original U.S. Track & Field arcade game.
Following injuries, Skinner began a career with John Deere Industrial Equipment, eventually moving to Georgetown, Kentucky, where he lived the past 36 years. He later taught welding at Blackburn Correctional Facility.
He is a charter member of the Delaware Track & Field Hall of Fame and a member of the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame. He served as an elder at 1st Presbyterian Church in Georgetown and was active in the Disabled American Veterans. He was selected by the Georgetown News-Graphic as "Father of the Year" in 1987. He loved westerns, woodworking, chocolate malt whoppers, and Tabasco on everything.
An imposing man at 6'7", his height was eclipsed only by his character. No matter how unpopular or how poor the odds, he stood for what he believed in. He fought for underdogs and considered his time teaching at Blackburn one of his best achievements as he had the opportunity to give second chances to the men he taught.
He was a steadfast and lifelong friend to his friends, a loving partner to his wife, a hero to his daughters. He always did his best and lived life head-on. Many were his achievements and accolades, but he was, beyond all things, a good man.
He is proceeded in death by his parents, Harry L. Skinner Sr. & Mary Cross Skinner, three brothers, Harry L. Skinner Jr., James Skinner, and George Skinner, and his nephew, Charles Skinner. He is survived and missed deeply by his wife of 44 years, Nelda, three daughters, Stacy Skinner, Brittain Skinner, and Fallon Skinner, one brother, Charles Skinner (Liz), five nephews, one niece, and countless friends.