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Young Mortician Profiled

June 26, 2011
LINDA COMINS , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

A young woman, whose parents grew up in the Northern Panhandle and whose paternal grandmother resides in Wheeling, is making news in North Carolina.

Jennifer Skinto, 23, of Shelby, N.C., was profiled in the Shelby Star newspaper as being "the youngest mortician" in Cleveland County, N.C. She has been employed at Clay-Barnette Funeral Home in Shelby for three and one-half years.

She is the daughter of Paul and Mary Keller Skinto of Shelby. Her father grew up in Wheeling and graduated from Wheeling High School. Her mother is from Benwood originally and is a graduate of John Marshall High School. Her grandmother is Pauline Skinto Allietta of Wheeling.

The Shelby Star feature was illustrated with a photograph of Skinto with her therapy dog, Dakota. Her grandmother said that she takes the therapy dog to the funeral Home to comfort the bereaved; she and the dog also visit nursing homes to cheer up residents.

Skinto told the newspaper that she lived in Pensacola, Fla., before moving with her family to Charleston, S.C., 10 years ago. She has been in Shelby for six years.

Allietta explained that Skinto became interested in mortuary science after her maternal grandmother died. While attending visitation at the Altmeyer Funeral Home in McMechen, Skinto began asking questions of one of the funeral directors and that piqued her interest.

Upon returning home, Skinto earned a funeral service education degree from Fayetteville Technical Community College and completed an internship. She became a certified mortician after taking state and national board examinations, her proud grandmother related.

Calling all WW II vets! Wheeling Jesuit University history professor Dr. Jeffrey Rutherford and Ohio County Public Library programmer Sean Duffy are inviting local World War II veterans to share their stories.

Video and audio recordings of interviews of veterans along with scans of photographs, letters, journals and other artifacts will be added to a searchable database for use by researchers and history students. In the long term, a book about the Ohio Valley in World War II also may be created, Duffy said.

Families of deceased World War II veterans who are in possession of photographs, service-related documents, medals, letters, journals, etc, and who would like their relative to be included in this project also are invited to contact Rutherford by phone at 304-243-2276 or by email at or Duffy by phone at 304-232-0244 or by email at lunchwith

West Virginia University officials announced that Blenko Glass Co. has continued its tradition of providing WVU with the latest piece of limited-edition glass from the West Virginia Birthday Blenko Glass Collection.

The gift to the university's art collection has become an annual occurrence on West Virginia Day, June 20. The Blenko cCollection, which began in 1980, celebrates the state's birthday by creating and selling the exact number of pieces as the state's age.

This year, Blenko Glass, located in Milton, produced 148 original pieces to celebrate the Mountain State's 148th birthday. According to the Blenko Project website, WVU houses just one of five known complete collections. Much of WVU's rare collection is on display at the Blaney House, home of the WVU president. Future plans are being made to display the collection in the Art Museum of WVU, upon its completion.

This year's edition represents a theme of Appalachian music. Designed by glass artist Arlon Bayliss, the new item is a vase in the shape of a guitar, with the state's traditional gold and blue colors.

WVU was given a majority of its collection by Hillary Homburg, a former WVU dental student, who donated her family's personal collection to WVU in 2007. The latest Blenko Glass collectible was given to WVU's art collection through the WVU Foundation.

Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at:

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