For 34 years, Ike Skelton served the people of Missouri in the United States Congress, President Barack Obama said. Skelton died last night at an Arlington hospital at the age of 81.
“He was beloved and respected by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and as Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Ike was a devoted advocate for our men and women in uniform,” Obama said. “To many in Congress and across Missouri, Ike was a mentor and a friend, and he will be missed. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to his wife Patty, his family and loved ones.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says, “the Department of Defense has lost a lifelong friend yesterday with the passing of former Rep. Ike Skelton. His leadership of the House Armed Services Committee, and his passion for our men and women in uniform, helped make the military he loved stronger. He will always be remembered for his commitment to bi-partisanship, his work to get our troops what they needed to succeed in battle, and his belief in the importance of professional military education. He will be missed by so many of us. Our service members, their families, and the people of Missouri have lost a staunch advocate. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Patty and the entire Skelton family.
Sen. Claire McCaskill says Skelton “represented the very best of Missouri,” and released the following statement: “Missouri lost a giant tonight. Ike Skelton represented the very best of Missouri, and fought tirelessly for the state he loved. Those of us lucky enough to call him a friend know that he lived the Missouri values of compromise and common sense. And in his half-century of service, he showed how Missouri could be a leader in contributing to the safety and security of our nation. I join all Missourians in sending my thoughts and prayers to Patty and the rest of Ike’s family. I’ll miss him dearly.”
Sen. Roy Blunt: “It was a great privilege to serve Missouri in the Congress with Ike Skelton and to benefit from his friendship and advice. No member of the Congress was more dedicated to America’s defense and those who defend us than Ike Skelton. He loved our country and its history and will be remembered for his contributions to both.”
Gov. Jay Nixon: “A role model to whom I had the honor of presenting Missouri’s highest military honor, the Conspicuous Service Medal, Ike Skelton inspired us all with his quiet dignity and tireless commitment to America’s men and women in uniform. A friend to Missourians, Americans and liberty-loving people worldwide, Congressman Skelton embodied the true meaning of public service and will forever be remembered as a leader who left a legacy of greater prosperity and security for his district, our state and our nation.”
AUDIO: Nixon reacts to Skelton’s death (1:30).
Attorney General Chris Koster: “I extend my heartfelt sympathies to the family of Congressman Ike Skelton. He was a patriot who always put the defense of our nation at the forefront of his service in Washington. I was honored to be represented by him as my Congressman for many years, and I will always regard him as the model of a true public servant who places duty before self.”
Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay: “Tonight, our nation has lost a remarkable public servant, our state has lost a courageous advocate and I have lost a dear friend. Congressman Ike Skelton was my mentor and among my closest colleagues when I first came to the U.S. House. For 34 years, Ike Skelton was a champion for his district, the State of Missouri and for every brave American who wore the uniform of this country. My family and I send our deepest sympathies to his wife Patty and his wonderful family. I am a better Member of Congress today because I served with Ike Skelton. His legacy of service and devotion to his constituents and our Armed Forces will never be forgotten.”
Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, who defeated Skelton in the 2010 election, and now represents District 4: “I am deeply saddened at the passing of my predecessor and respected friend, Ike Skelton. I have appreciated our conversations over the past two and a half years and the commitment we shared to see Missouri’s 4th District prosper. I am thankful for Ike’s tireless efforts on behalf of our men and women in uniform and know our country is safer as a result of his unwavering leadership. My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”
Congressman Sam Graves, District 6: “I am truly saddened to learn of the passing of Ike Skelton, who was a great friend. From his start as a county prosecutor through his 34 years in Congress, Ike always put Missouri and America first. He was a great Missourian who was an unsurpassed expert on military and national defense matters. Ike was also an Eagle Scout, and though we were from different parties, I knew I could always work with Ike to benefit our state. My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”
Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Roy Temple: “He was a Missourian, a statesman and a champion of a strong and sensible national defense. And above all, he was a gentleman. His love of and faith in America was unshakable and his support for the U.S. military was second to none. This is a loss for Missouri and the nation. We extend our sincerest sympathy to his family.” The Jackson County Democrats echoed that sentiment. “Congressman Skelton was giant in Missouri,” said Tom Wyrsch, Chairman of the Jackson County Democratic Committee. “He embodied all of the qualities you hope that a public servant would have. He fought for the men and women of Missouri for decades. Our condolences to his wife Patti, his children. Indeed, Missouri has lost one of it’s greatest sons and greatest champions.”