Preserving History Was Passion For Late Limestone College Trustee Virginia Skinner
(Article by Clayton Stairs, South Strand News, March 31, 2017)
Preserving Georgetown County's rich history may be Virginia Bruorton Skinner's lasting legacy. It was, after all, friends and family say, her lifelong passion.
Skinner died, at age 87, Monday, March 27, at her home, which was, in itself, a treasure trove of Georgetown County history. She relished showing visitors books, scrapbooks and notebooks full of the historical details of Georgetown's people, churches, beaches and more.
"She loved people, she loved parties, she loved history, she loved tradition, she loved Georgetown, she loved to dance, she loved the beach," said Trudy Bazemore, assistant director of the Georgetown County Library. "She will be missed."
Bazemore recalled that Skinner hosted a Fourth of July party at her house in Litchfield Beach each year, which became a tradition. She said as part of the Ribbon Club, Skinner worked with teen girls involved with the Debutante's Society at the Winyah Indigo Society Hall.
"One of her loves was working with the girls as they made their debut," Bazemore said. "She enjoyed that experience with them."
Skinner was passionate about preserving Georgetown history, rallying to restore and preserve the Winyah High School’s auditorium. Rene King, past president of the Georgetown Historical Society, said Skinner was instrumental in that effort, which began with the formation of the Georgetown Auditorium Preservation Society.
"Under her leadership, we helped secure the building, held meetings there and even brought in choral groups to the school to perform," King said. "We wanted to get people in there so they could see the potential of what was there and what it could mean to the community."
Thanks to Skinner and others who stepped up, the Winyah Auditorium is an asset to the city and county today, King said. It hosts many concerts and events throughout the year and the building is home to The Georgetown School of Arts and Sciences.
"Virginia exerted the energy and the leadership to make things happen," King said. "There are very few people who are willing to take the risk, to step out and challenge government."
As one of the founders of the Georgetown County Historical Society, Skinner also helped prevent the city from paving over the cemetery plot of William Screven, the 17th-century churchman who brought the Baptist faith to the region.
"She left no stone unturned," King said. "She spearheaded the inscriptions of all who are buried in that cemetery and had a fence put up to protect the sanctity of the cemetery from abandonment."
In 1946, Skinner graduated from Winyah High School and, in 1951, she married fellow classmate, Wright Sparks Skinner Jr.
She graduated Limestone College in 1950 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a minor in physics. Later, she served on the college's board of directors and in December 2015, the college named her its Philanthropist of the Year.
"She first came on the board in 1998-2003," said Dr. Walt Griffin, President of Limestone College. "She was named Senior Trustee in 2011 and granted Trustee Emerita status in 2016."
He said Skinner loved Limestone College and proudly wanted everyone to know what a great experience she had as a Limestone student – and how pleased she was with the recent progress of her alma mater. He said she was an obvious choice for the Philanthropist of the Year award.
"She supported every Limestone College capital campaign over the years," Griffin said. "She paid for two state historical markers on our campus and the symbols indicating nine of our campus buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places."
For 23 years, Skinner taught physical science, chemistry and physics at Winyah High School.
"She loved all the students that she taught over the years," said the Rev. Ted Sherrill, pastor of First Baptist Church of Georgetown, where Skinner was a member and served as the church's official historian. "She always enjoyed seeing them and celebrating their lives with them."
Skinner also chaired the Georgetown Heart Fund and the Lowcountry History Festival and served on the Santee Electric board of directors and the Education Committee of Georgetown Mental Health.
"She knew so much of our history," Sherrill said. "She told stories with lots of color that only she could tell like she did. We will miss that."
A funeral was held on Friday, March 31, at 11 a.m., at Georgetown First Baptist Church.
(Accompanying Photo: Limestone President Dr. Walt Griffin and Virginia Skinner during her Philanthropist of the Year celebration in 2015.)