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Cumberlands receives portrait in honor of Reverend John and Roxie Skeen


Williamsburg, KY- On Friday, July 11th, University of the Cumberlands (UC) welcomed a special gift from the family of Reverend John and Roxie Skeen in memory of their dedication to ministerial education, their love for God, and their admiration of Cumberlands.

The gift was a lifelike portrait of the couple which now adorns the wall in the Missions and Ministries department at UC. The Skeen portrait is not the family’s only gift to Cumberlands. The John and Roxie Skeen Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund was established many years ago to honor and memorialize John and Roxie Skeen while providing scholarship assistance to ministerial students at Cumberlands. The John and Roxie Skeen Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund was established with a gift of $1,000 by two of the Skeen’s daughters and Cumberlands alums, Naomi Harp ‘48 and Imogene Powers ’50. The gift came from a bequest to Cumberlands as indicated in Skeen’s will.


At the presentation of the portrait, John and Roxie’s eldest son, Melvin Skeen, said, “We can begin by giving God all the glory. It is amazing what two dedicated Christians can do when they put their faith in God and call to Him. This portrait is now here at UC in the department of Missions and Ministries which gives the Skeen family an even closer connection to the University.” Susan Powers, the granddaughter of John and Roxie Skeen, took one of the family’s favorite photographs of the couple to a Georgia painter, Regia Kennedy, where Kennedy painted and framed the portrait. The family is extremely pleased with the portrait and its likeness to the beloved couple.

Reverend John Skeen, who passed away in 1982, is the former pastor of churches in Whitley and Harlan counties. Skeen was a third generation pastor and the father of 12 children. Although he had a limited education, he continually encouraged his children and grandchildren to earn a college education. He demonstrated to his children, as well as those around him, what it meant to be a hard worker, a good father and husband, and a true man of God. In his memory the family began the John and Roxie Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund at Cumberlands which has been used to assist many ministerial students to realize their dream of a college education.

“Our family is so pleased with the turnout of the portrait and are even more pleased to be able to hang it at the University,” said Powers. “When my mother visited the Cumberland Inn, she was fascinated with the artwork and the overall style and grace of the architecture and spiritual essence. She would be so happy to know that her parents’ portrait is hanging in the Missions and Ministries department at UC. Also, one reason we included grandmother [Roxie Skeen] in the portrait is because my mother also said that a pastor’s wife works just as hard as the pastor. They were both wonderful people and they both deserve recognition.”

Many members of the Skeen family have attended UC and hold close to them their personal memories at UC along with their family legacy.

Each year at the Skeen Family Reunion a collection is taken up and delivered to UC by one of her children or grandchildren. Over the years the Fund has steadily grown with each annual contribution as well as gifts on special occasions such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Christmas. The income from the Endowed Fund has helped many students seek their dream of ministry. The Skeen family hopes that one day the scholarship can grow to be a full scholarship. As of December 31, 2013, the fund had a market value of $61,190.62 yielding $2,668.62 to be awarded in the 2014-15 academic year for scholarships to a student or students studying in the area of Missions and Ministries.

“The Skeen family has been helping us teach students how to preach since 1982,” said Dr. Bob Dunston Chairman of the UC Missions and Ministries Department. “With the help of the John and Roxie Skeen Scholarship and the example this family has set for our young students, we can help our Missions and Ministries students make a difference in Christ’s name. Thank you for the beautiful portrait and for everything your family has done.”

Located in Williamsburg, Ky., University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction, which currently offers four undergraduate degrees more than 40 major fields of study; ten pre-professional programs; ten graduate degrees distributed over eight areas, including two doctorates and seven master’s degrees; certifications in education; and online programs. For more information visit