Cover photo for James Lamar Skinner's Obituary
James Lamar Skinner Profile Photo

James Lamar Skinner

February 11, 1932 — January 8, 2022

James Lamar Skinner

The family requests that masks be worn for the services. Rev. James Lamar Skinner was a warm, funny, My-Glass-Is-Overflowing kind of person, ever the optimist. A favorite scripture of Rev. Skinner's was from the prophet Habakkuk: "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines . . . yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights." In true character during a recent hospital stay, as frailty crept in uninvited, he was having difficulty keeping his Jell-O on the spoon; his daughter offered to help, and without missing a beat he said "No, it lasts longer this way." We laughed, and finally he gave up and drank it straight from the bowl. He was not above letting himself get embarrassed. We can still remember his reddened face one Ash Wednesday when he came home after work and told about using his handkerchief to wipe the ashes off Principal DeGravelle's forehead. Nor was he above a practical joke. For a New Iberia/Lafayette Federation of Ministers ecumenical Christmas gift exchange, he filled two vials with muddy water and labeled one "Life Giving Elixir from the Beautiful Bayou Teche" and the other, "Crud from the Vermilion River." Long-serving Louisiana pastor, proud U.S. Army veteran, hole-in-one golfer at least twice, and champion Camellia grower, he loved mowing and otherwise maintaining the 8-acre home place; he loved his golfing buddies and his congregations; he loved studying the Old Testament and John's Gospel, and learning about the lives of people who cared for him during hospital stays near the end of his life; he loved playing Dominoes and Scrabble with family on holiday visits, and serving Ann a cup of morning coffee with a chocolate kiss dropped in. And he loved daffodils and just staying home in Lincoln Parish-He always said, "Home is best." Yet these passions and his love for his wife and daughters and nephews and grandchildren and greatgrandchildren were far surpassed by his love for the Savior whom he served for more than 60 years. Known, depending on the situation, as Pastor, Lamar, Bro. Skinner, Bro. Daddy, Bro. Bud, Sergeant, Uncle, Dad, Daddy, Granddad, and Sir, he met every gathering at its deepest need, saying his calling was "to strengthen the things that remain." "The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places," he would remind us, quoting a Psalm. "Surely I have a delightful inheritance." He, himself, at times needed strengthening. Early in his ministry, mid-sermon, he felt that he had lost his way. Glancing away from the congregation his eyes fell on the pulpit before him and its engraving "We would see Jesus." From that point on he understood that living like Jesus would keep him grounded. An Adventist hymn celebrates that verse from the Gospel of John: "We would see Jesus, other lights are paling, which for long years we have rejoiced to see. The blessings of our pilgrimage are failing. We would not mourn them, for we go to Thee." So here we are now, bidding farewell to this man, called "great" by his nephew Dirk and "the best of us" by his great nephew Jamie, reminding ourselves that he valued every expression of love shown him throughout his life. Just two days before his death, he said, "I hope I've been a good daddy and husband, because you girls have surely shown your colors this week." Someone once wrote that the best ending is when all members of a family are present at the death of their loved one. Thankfully, that is our story. With his wife and daughters beside him in the early morning hours of January 8, 2022, Rev. James Lamar Skinner, 89, veteran Louisiana pastor, went to his heavenly home after suffering a massive heart attack following a decline in health. Born February 11, 1932, in LaGrange, GA, Rev. Skinner moved around Georgia and Alabama with his father James Ewell Skinner, a railroad signalman, and his mother Wilma Allene Thompson Skinner, a textile worker. After graduating from high school in 1949 in Opelika, AL, Rev. Skinner attended Auburn University as an engineering major, then proudly served in the U.S. Army 1951 to 1952, separating at the rank of Sergeant First Class. With a G.I. Bill in his pocket, he moved to Louisiana in 1952, and enrolled in Louisiana College to study theology; here he met his wife of 66 years, Joycalyn Ann Beard Skinner. After graduating from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1961 he assumed his first full time pastorate in Pollock, LA; over the years he served Louisiana congregations in Oakdale, New Iberia, New Orleans, Transylvania, Bernice, Gibsland, and Arcadia, and filled many interim positions. Rev. Skinner was predeceased by his parents James and Allene Skinner, his parents-in-law Claude and Ruth Jenkins Beard, his sister-in-law Monita Kay Beard, his sister and brother-in-law Barbara and W.H. Lockard, his nieces Pam Lockard Nogueira and Deborah Lockard Slaton, and his great nephew, "Little Bill" Lockard. Left to grieve his loss are his wife, Joycalyn; his daughters Fritha (Robert) Dinwiddie of Stone Mountain, GA, and Rhonda (Robert) Burns of Spanish Fort, AL; grandsons Andrew (Anna Carapetyan) Dinwiddie of Brooklyn, Robert M. Burns, Jr. of Washington, D.C., and Ryan (Allie) Burns of Birmingham; nephews Doug (Patty) Lockard of Greenville, SC, Dirk (Dorri) Lockard of Maurepas, LA, and David Lockard of Houston; great-grandchildren Ellory and Eartha Carapetyan and many great-nieces and -nephews. Memorial and graveside services will begin at 10a.m. on January 11, 2022, Tuesday, at Alabama Baptist Church, Arcadia, LA; the family will receive visitors at the church at 9a.m. To protect the safety of friends and family during this time of COVID, guests are requested to please wear masks, which will be provided at time of service. Godspeed, Dad. You remain deeply loved.
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