Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Saturday

April 20, 2013

Helen Milliken memorial service set for June 3

TRAVERSE CITY — The life of former Michigan First Lady Helen Milliken will be celebrated at a June 3 memorial service in the Milliken Auditorium at Northwestern Michigan College's Dennos Museum Center.

Milliken, 89, was Michigan’s longest-serving first lady. The wife of former Gov. William Milliken was an environmentalist, women’s rights activist, and advocate for survivors of domestic violence.

She died in November.

The Millikens' son, Bill Milliken Jr., said many people asked the family for a public forum to honor his mother's legacy.

"She was a quiet, courageous woman who achieved more than most people realize," Milliken Jr. said.

William Milliken served 14 years as governor, from 1969 to 1983. Helen Milliken was an outspoken advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment and women's rights. She was also an environmentalist, advocating for billboard control, the bottle deposit law and a restriction on oil drilling in the Pigeon River State Forest.

"I think she took a great deal of pride in seeing how far women advanced in business, politics and socially during my father ‘s administration and well after," Milliken Jr. said.

Eugene Jenneman, Dennos Museum executive director, said "Helen Milliken’s legacy will live on for a very long time."

"She was a very kind, wonderful woman," he said. "She was also a very determined woman. She clearly had strong views about what she believed in. She made those views clear and supported them publicly."

The memorial service will start at 1:30 p.m. A reception will follow in the museum’s Sculpture Court.

Hans Voss, executive director for the Michigan Land Use Institute, said Helen Milliken was truly special. Her commitment to environmental issues was inspirational, he said.

"A woman of tremendous poise, grace, and strong convictions," Voss said. "She was a role model for so many people in this state. Her impact will be felt for generations."

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