Photo courtesy Angel Skelton.
Brian Skelton and his wife, Angel. Skelton, who served 17 years on the City Council and one year as mayor after former Mayor Frank Skinner resigned in 1999, died on July 2 after having a stroke June 23.
Brian Skelton loved the excitement of flashing blue police lights and sirens.
The longtime Hoover councilman and former mayor was close friends with Hoover police Chief Nick Derzis for 30 years and occasionally would ride around the city with Derzis in his police cruiser when the two were younger, Derzis said. He was eager for action.
“He loved to see the lights pop,” Derzis said.
Skelton liked the blue lights so much he reportedly obtained some for a small all-terrain vehicle he had on his Chilton County farm. Derzis said he never saw the blue lights himself, but, knowing Skelton, it wouldn’t surprise him.
So it was only fitting that when Skelton died in early July, the Hoover police and fire departments gave him a large escort with emergency lights swirling from the funeral at Hunter Street Baptist Church to the Southern Heritage Cemetery in Pelham.
“I know he was looking down smiling,” Derzis said. “We sent him out the way I know he wanted to be sent out.”
Skelton, who served 17 years on the City Council and one year as mayor after former Mayor Frank Skinner resigned in 1999, died on July 2 after having a stroke June 23. Skelton, 56, had battled numerous health problems in recent years, including bouts with liver cancer and colon cancer.
Skelton first was appointed to the City Council in 1993. He then was elected in 1996 and stayed on the council until he was appointed mayor in 1999. He ran a campaign to get elected mayor in 2000 but lost to Barbara McCollum. So he sat out four years and was voted back on the council in 2004 and continued serving there until his death.
“Hoover’s lost a great leader and a servant and a dear friend of Hoover,” said Council President Jack Wright, who served with Skelton on the council most of those years. “He ran the race well, and there’s no doubt in my mind he’s with the Lord.”
Wright described Skelton as a statesman who didn’t believe in public bickering and fighting among elected officials.
“I think the people want their elected officials to solve the problems and not to put all their dirty laundry on the line,” Wright said. “He was a problem solver. He was a consensus builder for the better part of two decades. He was just a natural leader. He certainly never tried to be the first one to the microphone or to be on TV. Still waters run deep.”
Skelton had two siblings die in recent years, and his mother died within the past year, Wright said. But even with all his own health problems, Skelton’s attitude remained magnificent through it all, Wright said.
Hoover Mayor Gary Ivey, a longtime friend of Skelton, said his passing is a great loss to the city.
“His family has been an integral part of the city for many years,” Ivey said. “He was a great dad, a great friend. He’s really given back to the city, and he’ll be missed by a lot of folks.”
Hoover Executive Director Allen Pate said Skelton was a conservative who liked to review agreements in detail before signing to make sure they were in the best interests of the city. He never requested special considerations for himself as a public official, Pate said.
“He served our city well. He served our city honestly,” Pate said. “Brian was just a fine, upstanding gentleman.”
Derzis described him as a strong advocate for public safety who loved to help people, especially those staying at the nursing home his family ran on U.S. 31. “Brian just had a very, very large heart.”
Skelton started working for his family’s business, the South Haven Nursing Home, as a teenager in 1979 and eventually became its president. He then served as president of the South Haven Corp., an investment company that continued to own the nursing home after turning over management duties to another company.
Skelton served on numerous boards, including the Hoover YMCA Board, Statewide Health Coordinating Council and Crime Stoppers of Metro Alabama. He also served on committees of the American Heart Association and American Cancer Society. He was a longtime member of Hunter Street Baptist Church.
Skelton is survived by his wife, Angel, and three children, two of whom are now adults.