The Rev. Harold Gilbert Skinner, 92, of Hickory, passed away Friday, May 8, 2020, with his loving wife, Nancy, by his side.
He was born Dec. 20, 1927, in Rocky Mount, the son of the late Edgar D. Skinner and Lillian Heilig Skinner. He earned his Eagle Scout award and his pilot’s license before graduating as valedictorian of Rocky Mount High School in 1946. After serving in the U.S. Army Air Force from 1946 to 1948 he attended Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, graduating as valedictorian in 1952. He was elected freshman and senior class president and best all-round male senior.
Harold started dating his beloved wife, Nancy Foil, during their freshman year where they worked serving family-style meals in the dining hall. They were married Aug. 1, 1953. Harold and Nancy moved to Chicago where he received his Master’s in Divinity from Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary in 1956, and was ordained as a Lutheran pastor June 10, 1956, by the North Carolina Synod. He served his Internship in Albuquerque, N.M., where their daughter, Elizabeth, was born. Their son, David, was born in Cheyenne, Wyo., when Harold served as Mission Developer and pastor of Christ Lutheran Church from 1956 to 1958. He was pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Cañon City, Colo., and was the first manager of Rainbow Trail Lutheran Camp in Hillside, Colo., from 1958 to 1962. Their son, Mark, was born there. The family moved to Greenville, S.C., where he served as pastor of St. Michael Lutheran Church from 1962 to 1973. From 1973 to 1982, Harold was pastor of Wittenberg Lutheran Church and Director of Karl W. Kinard Conference Center in Leesville, S.C. He finished his pastoral career in Cherryville, from 1982 to 1992. He served two terms on the South Carolina Lutheran Synod Executive Committee and two terms on the North Carolina Lutheran Synod Council. He was a delegate to two National Church Conventions and served as District Dean in the South Carolina Synod and Conference Dean in the North Carolina Synod.
He organized high school backpacking trips on the Appalachian Trail through Camp Lutheridge from 1971 to 1979. He continued hiking with his fellow pastors for 48 years. He and Nancy retired to Hickory, returning to live near their beloved Lenoir-Rhyne College where they attended countless football and basketball games, music concerts and plays. He and Nancy were very active in the Lenoir-Rhyne College Alumni Association, serving as national co-chairs of the Annual Fund. They were both conferred the Trustee Award of Lenoir-Rhyne, Aug. 5, 2005. They traveled the world as members of the Airstream Caravan Club. He served as President of the Piedmont North Carolina Unit, was Region 3 Chaplain and was a devotional leader at the International Airstream Rally, travelling on countless Airstream Caravans. Survivors include his wife of 66 years, Nancy Foil Skinner; daughter, Elizabeth Skinner (Chris Wilmot) of New York City; son, David Skinner (Fae) of Dallas, Texas; and son, Mark Skinner (Lou Ann Cheslock Skinner) of Alamosa, Colo. He is also survived by a former American Field Service Exchange Student from Sweden, Maja Jansson Åberg (Christer and children Magda and Simon) of Säffle, Sweden; and a nephew; and three nieces. He was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Ellen Rogers; and two brothers, Edgar D. Skinner and Clarence G. Skinner.
A celebration of his life will occur at a future date. Memorials may be given to The Rev. Harold G. and Nancy Foil Skinner Endowment Fund, Lenoir-Rhyne University, Hickory, NC.