William E. Milner - Gene to his family and friends - passed away gently on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, holding the hand of his lady love, Nada Thogmartin. And while my sister Kim and I are lost at the thought of living without him, we are comforted by the remarkable example he set.
Dad was born in Ranger, Texas to a stoic oil man and a nurse/homemaker. He grew up close to his sisters, Bobbie and Nona and best friend to his brother, Jack. He told stories of being a lifeguard during the summers and an athlete and heartthrob in high school.
When he got to the University of North Texas, he knocked on the boxing coach's door and asked for a scholarship to attend classes. The coach agr eed, so Dad blindly opened the college catalog, dropped his finger on the page and selected a major at random - Art.
Our father met our mother, Georgia Ann Ketchum Milner at North Texas. When he was 19, he joined the Navy, married his bride and moved to Hawaii where he served his country in the Korean War. My sister Kim was conceived in Honolulu and has craved tropical weather ever since.
When they returned to North Texas, my father majored in Math and Physics, and soon produced me, a wild child, and joined the team at IBM. He excelled, rising to the ranks of upper management, including six years as an IBM liaison to NASA working on the manned spacecraft program in Houston, and another 30 years mastering Federal Defense contracts to help keep our nation safe.
IBM sent our Lone Star family all over the United States, but Dad finally settled in Lampasas after my mother passed and reconnected with an old high school friend, Nada Thogmartin. She became a loving and inspirational partner to our father and second mother to my sister and me. She helped a good man find a path to be even better.
Gene volunteered to represent children at risk in the Texas legal system through the CASA program. He was also an Ombudsman for the elderly at an assisted living facility—a friend or a champion when they needed one most. And he proudly served the First Presbyterian Church on South Chesnut whenever he was called to action.
For 88 years, my father lived an adventurous, giving, exceedingly tidy life. He taught us how to be decent, compassionate, loving people, not by dictate, but by example. "If it's worth doing," he used to say, "It's worth doing right."
A devout Christian, he was raised up in the end by Nada and their Lampasas church family. He lived his religion and taught his daughters to do the same. He went peacefully to meet his Maker confident he'd done his very best to live a good life and love his fellow man.
His body will be cremated, but when Covid allows, Nada and the Rev. Kevin Jones will help us celebrated his life at First Presbyterian. Until then , we are so grateful to have had such a loving, patient father. We will miss him ferociously, until we join him in the afterlife. We will strive to follow in his footsteps to make that possible.
Gene is survived by Nada Thogmartin, Kimberly Milner Warrick, an opera performance professor at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio and her daughters Deandra and Jessica and me, Kelly Milner Halls, a children's writer and my daughters Kerry and Vanessa, along with his loving nieces and nephews, Dian, Linda, Jim, Mary and Brad.