William Barton Skelton Jr.
1LT in 603rd Engineer Camouflage Bn : Co A
Born 1920 in PA
Other residence(s): Meadville, PA; Salisbury, MD; Wilmington, NC
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
College education after the war: Carnegie Mellon
NOTE: I could find neither a draft nor an enlistment record for him, but the PA Veterans Compensation record confirms his serial number and an overseas departure date consistent with Ghost Army transport.
William Skelton was born on October 7, 1920 in Meadville, Pennsylvania. His father was a physician, and he was one of two children. William Sr. had served overseas in World War I, and achieved the rank of captain. Sadly, he died young of a heart ailment when William was only 15.
William graduated from Meadville Area High School in 1937, where he was a member of the National Honor Society. He then attended college for several years. He joined the Reserves, and was promoted to 2nd LT (engineers) in November of 1941. He enlisted on December 7, 1941. He served overseas from May 3, 1944 to July 2, 1945, and was released from the Army with the rank of CPT (like his father) on July 2, 1945. His obituary says that he was with the 603rd, "serving under General George Patton and his Secret Army." He was awarded the Bronze Star and five battle stars.
He went back to school after the war, graduating from Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon) in 1947 with a degree in chemical engineering. He was active in a number of campus organizations including fraternities and intramural sports.
William married Jessica Matthews in 1949, and they lived with his mother in Meadville for the first few years of their marriage. WIlliam may have pursued further education at this time, since the 1949 and 1951 city directories in Meadville list him as a student. The Skeltons would go on to have three daughters.
William worked first for Goodyear Tire, and then for 33 years as a chemical engineer with DuPont. The family was living in Salisbury, MD in 1953, and were in Wilmington, NC by 1993. In Wilmington, he served for a time as president of the Cape Fear Power Squadron, a boating club.
He died on October 10, 2011 in Wilmington.
According to his obituary, William was an accomplished magician, and enjoyed sharing his magic tricks with everyone. He was an avid ballroom dancer and an aficionado of big band music. He enjoyed his time spent visiting Nova Scotia, Maine, and the upper peninsula of Michigan. He was also a volunteer at Kids Making It, where he shared his woodworking skills with at-risk youth.
1937 high school yearbook (clip attached)
1947 college yearbook (clip attached)
1941 article in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette re his promotion to 2nd LT
1949 Meadville city directory
1950 Pennsylvania Veterans Compensation Application File
1953 Salisbury city directory
2011 Social Security Death Index
2011 obituary in Wilmington NC Star News (clipping attached)