John Skillings

April 18, 1928 — April 22, 2022


April 26, 2022 - 4:07 PM

John Skillings

John Wesley Skillings was born on April 18, 1928, in Springfield, Ohio, to Anna Skillings and Byron E. Skillings. He died Friday, April 22, 2022, at 8:28 a.m. 

Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 29, and the funeral service will be at 4 p.m.  Saturday, both at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Springfield, Mo. 

John was preceded in death by siblings Eugene Skillings, Leslie Skillings, Mary McClintock, and Phoebe Pyles. 

John married Jean Sinclair Skillings on Aug. 21, 1952. They celebrated 50 years of marriage with family and friends in 2002. 

John was a graduate of Tarkio College, Pittsburgh-Xenia Theological Seminary. John was ordained in his home congregation, May 19, 1953. Additional studies were pursued at Toledo University and Graceland College, Lamoni, Iowa, where he taught History of Christianity. 

He retired Dec. 1, 1996, last serving the First Presbyterian Church, Iola. He served churches in several states in the Midwest including his native state of Ohio, plus Wisconsin, Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri. He also has served the church as a National Missionary, New Church Developer, Church Educator, Tent-Maker Pastor and as an Intentional Interim.

On Jan. 1, 2018, John married Shirley Ashford, and they lived in Iola.

For 10 years he was a member of John Calvin Presbytery’s Peacemaking Committee, six of those years he was the chair. He was the Moderator of the Mission Committee of John Calvin Presbytery. John led workshops on all levels of the church on themes such as: Peacemaking, Prayer, Care of the Earth, and Humor. In 1992 he prepared the Table of Prayers for Peacemaking Conference at Montreat, N.C. and in Estes Park, Colo. In 1995 he was one of the 70 workshop leaders at the Peacemaking Jubilee on Long Island at Hofstra University. Since retirement he had preached at 40% of the congregations of Presbytery.

It has been said that John brought gifts of bridge building, storytelling, community organization and humor. People saw him as a free spirit, joyous with a poet’s heart who delighted in laughter. He was a collector of children’s unmanipulated sayings and uncoerced responses. One of his major goals was to bring some laughter to the church. He loved doing “Humor Workshops.” All you needed to do to catch his ear is to tell him you have a child’s saying.

John was pledged to live the same regardless of vocation. His ministry emphasized civil rights, care of the earth, peacemaking and unconditional acceptance and love of one another. His parents were Ohio farm folk who taught him to love the land and who nurtured him in the faith and showed by their lives that all people are to be treated with respect and dignity. He said these roots are deep in him and it is something he never wanted to forget.

John is survived by wife Shirley Ashford, son Byron and daughters Kirsten and Gretchen, and a myriad of grandchildren, great-grandchildren and nieces and nephews.

In addition to a passion for the ministry, John had a lifelong passion for baseball, as a Detroit Tigers and Toledo Mudhens fan, then later a Chicago Cubs fan. He played church league softball and was still sliding into base at 77 years of age. He was also an avid Missouri State University Lady Bears basketball fan and attended as many games as possible. 

Arrangements and cremation are under the direction of Cremations of the Ozarks. To leave an online condolence, please visit


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