John Milliken, a lifetime resident of Traverse City, Mich., died of cancer on Sept. 16, 2008.
John grew up in Traverse City, attending Traverse City High School, where he served as the school’s first student governor, was a member of the basketball and track teams and played the violin in the school orchestra. Entering Amherst in 1938, he played freshman basketball and was a member of the Chi Psi fraternity.
Having known from an early age that he wanted to be a doctor, John left Amherst in 1941 to enter Wayne State Univ. medical school, receiving a B.S. degree from Amherst at a later date. Following his M.D. in 1944, an internship at Baylor Univ. Hospital and a residency at the Alexander Blaine Clinic in Detroit, John served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. from 1946 to 1948. After his discharge, he was a medical resident at the University Hospital in Ann Arbor and then an instructor in internal medicine in Traverse City.
In 1950, he began his private practice in internal medicine in Traverse City, pursuing that career for the next 54 years. In 1953, he was certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and later became a fellow of the American College of Physicians. Over the years, his practice expanded to a nine physician clinic in the Milliken Medical Building. The clinic was known to be on the cutting edge of medical progress, being one of the first to provide x-ray and laboratory services as a convenience for patients and also one of the first to use computers.
In 1944, John married Elnora Toldo, an accomplished musician (violin and piano) and actress. Early in their marriage, he helped her found the Traverse City Symphony Orchestra and the Traverse City Civic Theater, both of which are still in operation. They also formed the Milliken Medical Orchestra in which John played the violin.
John and Elnora had five children, two sons and three daughters. One daughter, unfortunately, died at an early age, but both sons are physicians in Traverse City and the other two daughters are living successful lives in Chicago and Los Angeles.
John, whose younger brother, William, is the former governor of Michigan, was an avid boater, skier and tennis player and always maintained an optimistic attitude. He was also a staunch supporter of Amherst College. He and Elnora attended many of our Reunions and participated enthusiastically in all of the activities. As his longtime friend Bill McNitt ’42 said of John in a letter to me, “He was a very good and loyal friend and a supporter of Amherst.”
—Ted Heisler ’42