In Memoriam: Mr. Catfish, Layne Pucket, 1940-2010, “May his soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen”
A Tribute to Joe Skinner: I invite you to join me, the Catfish Feastival Board of Directors, and Zell Skinner and a gathering of Skinner kin as we remember Joseph Franklin Skinner and all he contributed to the quality of life in Ware Shoals, South Carolina.
Borne June 16, 1932 in Ware Shoals, he was a son of the late Thomas Marvin and Elizabeth Page Skinner. He was a member of Ware Shoals First Baptist Church, where he was a member of the Adult Choir, and served as a deacon. He was the co-owner, along with Marion Carnell, of the Piggly Wiggly store in Ware Shoals for 59 years and he co-owner of the Piggly Wiggly store of Ninety Six. Joe was a retired veteran of the South Carolina National Gaurd after 42 years of service. He was a member of the Lions Club for 59 years. He was a member of Ware Shoals Lodge #306 A.F.M. Joe’s love of Ware Shoals truly showed in his devotion to the town’s annual Catfish Feastival, with his involvement for 32 years. He served as Catfish Feastival Chairman for 23 years. The Catfish Building was named in honor of him in 2006 and Joe was named “Chef Extraordinaire.” Joe was honored by the Governor of South Carolina with The Order of the Silver Crescent, for his volunteer and community service, on May 22, 2013.
Now, Joe Skinner left a legacy of a lot of offspring. Zell was calculating the number of Skinners and kin a few weeks ago and with two sisters, four children, nineteen grandchildren, eleven great grandchildren, and all the in-laws, the extended Skinner family tops the scale at forty two or so. Let’s just say that some of the neighbors not kin to the Skinner family have been known to show up and fix a plate at one of the famous Sunday feeds and no one even noticed.
We honor Joe’s memory today while we remember a story or two from Feastivals past. You see Joe Skinner was present at Feastival number one in 1981 when Olin Wells and some other expert National Guard cooks were in charge of food and caught the tent on fire to add to the day’s excitement.
Yet, the local National Guard unit was instrumental in growth of the Feastival for eleven years, and Joe was always in the middle of it all. One year when the Guard was preparing the Catfish Building for full operations, it was time to light the gas deep fryers. Joe Garner said to Joe Skinner, “I’ll do that. I know all about it.” Joe Skinner nodded an okay, and Joe Garner got down on the floor to light deep fryer #1. I was near the Catfish Building when I heard an explosion. I ran to the building to find more noise than harm and whitened, even ashen, looks on the faces of the two Joes: Joe Garner and Joe Skinner. I immediately yelled, “EMS is on the way, I’m pretty sure they heard the explosion!”
Joe’s dedication was always to the Feastival and to the community. When the National Guard was put on notice for possible international commitments and would not be in charge of the Catfish Building, food preperations and sales, Joe was a bit concerned and, maybe, more that a bit. Yet, one Sunday at the Ware Shoals First Baptist Church, Joe experienced a revelation of sorts. No, the revelation had nothing to do with The Reverend Leon Jones’ sermon. Joe wasn’t even thinking about the sermon, but the revelation came from his special perspective of sitting in the choir and looking directly at the church members. Joe Skinner’s revelation was going pew by pew, row by row, and totaling the number of possible volunteers to create a crew to have a Baptist-run Catfish Building for the Feastival.
The revelation was right-on solid, and the Baptist signed on for the 2002 Feastival. In 1981, the first Feastival, the Guard had cooked 400 pounds of catfish. By 2011, 2,800 pounds of catfish were prepared and sold. The Baptist were busy and continued to be busy even today, so get ready for some delicious eating today, in a large part attributed to inspired planning by Joseph Franklin Skinner.
A special column of the Veterans Memorial has been engraved and dedicated to Joe. It reads:
In Dedication To
June 16, 1932 – September 7, 2013
Served in SC National Guard
Catfish Festival Chairman
2013 Recipient of The Order of The Silver Crescent
Given by SC Governor
And Community Service
The Catfish Feastival Board
I hope each of you will take a look at this tribute. The Joe Skinner column is helping to hold up he Leon Dodson and Larry Maxwell memorial benches. I think Joe, Leon, and Larry would be pleased with this partnership.
Let us pray:
Almighty God, we commend to you your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trial and temptaions; give the courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be. Shower your blessings, also, on all veterans and help us to remember especially those who sacrificed their all.
Today, we give you special thanks for the life and accomplishments of Joseph Franklin Skinner. Bless, we, pray, his wife and all of their extended family. We’re grateful for his commitment to you and to our community. Bless Joe’s legacy and bless this 34th Annual Catfish Feastival. Amen and Amen.
And now, a musical tribute introduced by Lyman Golden.
Delivered on Saturday, May 24, 2014, at the 34th Annual Catfish Feastival by:
George D. Rush. III
Mayor Emeritus of Ware Shoals, South Carolina and Lieutenant Colonel, United Stated Air Force (Ret.)