Will Skelton

Hall of Fame • Class of 2014

Whether running, walking or biking you can safely enjoy the scenery, parks, and neighborhoods on more than 45 miles of greenways withinin Knoxville’s city limits while getting a good day's exercise.

That was the dream Will Skelton envisioned in 1991 when he helped form the Knox Greenways Coalition, a non-profit advocacy group, initially funded by the local Sierra Club, to advance greenways in the City and Knox County.

The Coalition had several goals, including adopting a comprehensive greenways systems proposal, hiring a fulltime greenways coordinator, and prompting the start of greenway development, all of which were subsequently realized.

In the fall of 1991, when the City had only 1½ miles of paved greenways, Mayor Victor Ashe appointed the Knoxville Greenways Commission, with Skelton as its chairman, to develop plans for greenways and trails. Skelton, active in real estate law was tasked to find feasible routes for greenways and to convince landowners to grant easements for greenways.

"We wanted to get them all over town so everybody would have a greenway not too far away from where they lived," Skelton said, "and by doing that, everybody became more familiar with them and it helped sell greenways."

Skelton’s efforts have led to measurable results enjoyed by runners across Knoxville and Knox County. Many KTC runners train on the greenways and some of the KTC's favorite races are run on the greenways, including a few stretches of the Knoxville Marathon.

Skelton's community-wide efforts have been recognized with the formal naming of the Will Skelton Greenway in the Island Home and Forks of the River area of South Knoxville.

Joe Walsh, Director, City of Knoxville Parks & Recreation has this to say about Will: "In my mind, Will is the ‘Godfather’ of the Knoxville greenway system. Without his hard work and vision, I am sure we would not have the number of miles we currently enjoy in Knoxville. He not only knocked on doors to secure easements that were essential in the construction of the greenways, but he was out there with a machete in hand, blazing trails with red flags, as we laid out the many miles of greenway trails all over the city. His support and leadership are not to be understated."

Skelton continues to champion greenway growth in Knoxville as a member of the Advisory Board of Legacy Parks Foundation and as Chairman Emeritus of the Knoxville Greenways Commission.

Skelton is one of the longest sitting KTC Board members in the Club's history, also serving on the executive committee much of that time. In addition to running in many of the KTC races, usually with his longtime girlfriend Kim Robinette, Skelton has worked on many Club issues and projects. Over a three year period he worked at almost every work session when the KTC installed mileage markers on all of the City of Knoxville and Knox County greenways.

After receiving a law degree from the UT College of Law, Skelton served as a captain in the US Marine Corps 1966-1969. Thereafter he practiced law until his retirement in 2007 as a partner with the law firms of Baker, Worthington, Crossley, Stansberry & Woolf, and Bass Berry & Sims. In addition to greenways, Skelton has been a leader on many environmental and wilderness preservation issues, including serving as coordinator of the Coalition that persuaded Congress to designate 66,389 acres of the Cherokee National Forest as wilderness in 1994 and 1995 and subsequently editing the first comprehensive hiking guide to the Cherokee National Forest, published by UT Press in 1992 and 2005.

The Knoxville Track Club is extremely proud of the total commitment and contributions Will Skelton has made to our community and our Club.