NORMAN — Former Cleveland County Commissioner George Skinner was remembered Monday as a kind man who devoted his life to public service.
Skinner died Monday at Norman Regional Hospital. He was 77.
Commissioner Rod Cleveland, who worked alongside Skinner for a number of years, said Skinner was “one of the sweetest, kindest men I've ever known. He was always quiet, but when he spoke up, you listened. George took his job very seriously.”
Skinner represented District 1 for 22 years, retiring in December. He was the grandfather of state District 44 Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman.
At his retirement party, Virgin said Skinner was a great county commissioner, “but he was an even better grandpa and dad to six kids and 11 grandchildren.”
Virgin said she remembers knocking on doors for him when he ran for office. She credits him with getting her interested in politics at an early age.
Virgin said her grandfather was “the most honest man I've ever known.”
Skinner was elected in 1990 and served continuously until his retirement. He worked to get a new Cleveland County jail built and prided himself on taking care of county roads and watching out for how tax dollars were spent.
“I really enjoyed being a county commissioner,” Skinner said upon his retirement. “There was always something different to do and different people to meet.”
Skinner maintained an “open-door” policy and said he strived through the years “to keep politics out of the office.”
Being county commissioner was “about people, not politics,” he said. “It's about helping to solve the public's problems.”
County Clerk Tammy Belinson said she'll remember Skinner for his smile and “the fact that he greeted me every day with a good, firm handshake. I really appreciated that. He truly loved being a county commissioner, and you could just tell. He just beamed when he came to work.”
Services for Skinner are pending.