By VANESSA REMMERS Richmond Times-Dispatch May 26, 2017
Jerry Skalsky, a longtime Prince George County supervisor, died suddenly Wednesday afternoon after friends say he collapsed in a Walmart parking lot.
The Prince George native, 74, grew up working on his family’s peanut farm from dawn till dusk. When he was in the third grade, he didn’t receive a report card because farm work prevented him from taking any school tests.
“It was an entirely different way of life. We lived in the shadow of the Depression. Farming was our means of survival,” Mr. Skalsky told The Progress-Index in October 2013.
His grandparents immigrated in the early 1900s as part of a wave of Czech and Slovak families who settled in Virginia, mostly on farmland abandoned after the Civil War.
Mr. Skalsky grew up speaking Czech to family members and supported the launch of the county’s Czech and Slovak festival in 2013.
Prince George Administrator Percy Ashcraft said the thing that he most admired about Mr. Skalsky was his deep-rooted faith.
“He always gave the prayer at Board of Supervisors meetings. And those weren’t canned prayers,” Ashcraft said.
Mr. Skalsky grew up attending Oakland Baptist Church, singing and reading hymns written in Czech. His father would lead the singing at church and at home, where both of Mr. Skalsky’s parents played the accordion and the piano.
He later attended Richard Bland College, Trevecca Nazarene University, Virginia State University and Chapman University, eventually earning his master’s degree in counseling.
He taught in school classrooms for 10 years, then moved to juvenile probation court services for 12 years. He also worked as a middle and high school counselor and later as an attendance officer for 16 years. He was also a founding member of the Prince George Rescue Squad.
Mr. Skalsky retired from that work in 2006, while he was in his sixth year of what would become an 18-year tenure on the Board of Supervisors.
He was first elected to the board in November 1999. During that time, he served as chairman, vice chairman and as a representative on numerous boards and commissions.
Ashcraft said that when he first moved to Prince George six years ago to become the county administrator, Mr. Skalsky and his wife had him over for dinner several times.
“He wasn’t the type of guy who jumped in the water and made a big splash. He did little things like taking food to somebody or visiting someone at the hospital,” Ashcraft said. “He was very nonjudgmental. He didn’t care what car you drove, how much money you made. He was a good person who interacted with you no matter who you were.”
Former Hopewell City Councilman Wayne Walton said he decided to run because of Mr. Skalsky, whom he called a mentor. The two met two decades ago when their wives shared the same class.
Mr. Skalsky married his wife, Brenda, in 1961. The couple had four children — Deb Skalsky, J.J. Skalsky, Dr. Julie Skalsky Brown and Heidi Skalsky.
Walton went along with Mr. Skalsky to such things as delivering Christmas presents to children or taking kids to fish hatcheries.
“He never rocked the boat too much. It was about smaller things. I recently talked to him about what he was doing, and he was driving someone to the doctor three times a week,” Walton said. “He was one of them guys that would never show anything was wrong with him.”
Mr. Skalsky was also an avid sports fan, Ashcraft said, and was the first recreational coach in the county to bring soccer to Prince George. He attended nearly every local game for all kinds of sports.
Prince George High School, at 7801 Laurel Spring Road, will host a visitation service starting at 3 p.m. Sunday in the gym. Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Monday in the high school auditorium.