Martha B. Skelton

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 6, 2008

Martha B. Skelton, noted educator and quilter, died Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008, at River Region Medical Center. She was 89.

Born in New Martinsville, W.Va., she had been a resident of Vicksburg since 1947. Mrs. Skelton was the daughter of the late William Henry Harrison Butcher and Katie Guthrie Butcher.

Mrs. Skelton was a graduate of University High School in Norman, Okla., and received degrees in geology and in library science from the University of Oklahoma. After moving to Vicksburg, she was librarian at H.V. Cooper High School for a number of years.

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Mrs. Skelton was a member of the Cotton Patchers, the Mississippi Quilt Association and the Mississippi Craftsman’s Guild. She was a charter member of Westminster Presbyterian Church.

A book by Mary Elizabeth Johnson, “Martha Skelton, Master Quilter of Mississippi,” was released this year by University Press. It contains photographs of 90 of the 200 quilts she completed.

Mrs. Skelton was selected twice to participate in the Smithsonian Institution’s Folklife Festival and was instrumental in establishing quilting as a program of the Mississippi State Fair. Her quilts are in the permanent collection of the Museum of the American Quilter’s Society and in the Mississippi Department of Archives and History Collection.

She was predeceased by her husband, Alan Gordon Skelton; three sisters: Virginia Hamner, Sarah Rose Crim and Betty Jo McCollum; and two brothers, Harold Emory Butcher and Walter William Butcher.

She is survived by a daughter, Ann Hope Skelton Deemer and her husband, Troy, of Westwego, La.; a son, Gordon Skelton and his wife, Janet, of Madison; one granddaughter, Jennifer Ann Fentress of Baton Rouge; one grandson, Marc Alan Fentress of Maricopa, Ariz.; and a sister, Garnet Butcher Coulter of San Antonio, Texas.

Services for Mrs. Skelton will be at 11 a.m. Friday at Riles Funeral Home chapel with Dr. Scott L. Reiber, pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church, officiating. Burial will be at Green Acres Memorial Park. Visitation will be Friday from 9 a.m. until the hour of the service at Riles Funeral Home.

Memorials may be made to the Palmer Home for Children, P.O. Box 746, Columbus, MS 39703 and to French Camp Academy, One Fine Place, French Camp, MS 39745.

Pallbearers will be Pat Cashman, Frank Ezelle, Troy Deemer, Brian Quarles, Oren Bailess and Charles Haley.