Private management industry pioneer Denzil Skinner, 91, of Williamsburg, VA, passed away on April 4 after a battle with cancer.
He was the son of Coy and Iola Skinner of Normantown, West Virginia. His early education was in a one room schoolhouse in depression riddled West Virginia. He graduated high school at the age of 16 and soon thereafter joined the US Army. After military service in the Pacific and supporting occupation forces in Japan, he married Maxine Wilmoth, the love of his life for 71 plus years. To this union, two children, David Olen Skinner of Houston, TX, and Lois Faye Skinner Noah (deceased in 2002), were born, plus seven grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
Denzil returned to West Virginia and taught school in the one room schoolhouse. After graduation from Glenville State College (where he was later honored as an alumnus of the year), he was a school principal before joining the Boy Scouts of America as a Field Director. He was later honored as a recipient of Scouting’s Silver Beaver Award which is BSA’s highest award for volunteer work.
In 1960 he entered the sports arena/convention center management field and served as the general manager of venues in Charleston, West Virginia; Norfolk, Virginia and Indianapolis, Indiana. In 1977 he joined with A. N. Pritzker of Chicago to negotiate a management agreement with the State of Louisiana for the complete control of the Louisiana Superdome. Skinner and Pritzker later formed Facility Management Group (FMG) which was the first, and became the world’s largest, management firm of public assembly facilities. Skinner served as President and CEO as the company expanded to venues in New York, Maryland, Florida, Missouri, Colorado, California, and numerous international consulting arrangements. While using Superdome influence and financing, he helped established TicketMaster, whose success, along with the Superdome, has become legendary. Today, the beneficial successor of FMG enjoys much continued international success. He retired with founders shares in 1988.
“Denzil was one of the leaders of our industry in his day,” said John Robertson, CVE, executive director, Charleston (WV) Coliseum & Convention Center. “When I came into the industry in 1978, Denzil was recognized as a leader in the industry. He was recognized as an innovator. He served as a mentor for a good many persons that later came to be managers and executives in our industry.”
“Denzil was a legend and working with him was legendary as well,” added Chris Bigelow, FCSI, CFSP, The Bigelow Companies, Inc.
Skinner was featured in Time Magazine as one of the most innovative and successful managers in the public assembly management industry. He retired to his farm in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia where Denzil continued as a consultant to design architects, engineers, and owners of coliseums, convention centers, and stadiums throughout the world. Skinner served many terms on the Board of Directors of the IAVM.
In addition to his love of golf, nothing gave him more pleasure than his family, and he delighted in their success. He was most proud of the fact that so many of his former associates became managers of major sports, entertainment, and convention venues throughout the world.
Denzil and Maxine were life-long Baptists with membership in the First Baptist Church of Indianapolis. In Williamsburg they attended Walnut Hills Baptist Church.
Denzil was preceded in death by his daughter, Faye, a brother, Ken Skinner, of Nashville, TN, and a son-in-law, Mike Noah of Ocean City, MD. In addition to Maxine, he is survived by his son David, a sister, Wave Meeks, of LeGrange, OH, his grand children and great-grandchildren.