Earl Dee Milliken, Aka: "Coach" or “Bud”
Exhibit from Robin Leedy
Earl Dee “Bud” Milliken
Saratoga Sun March 6, 2013
Memorial Services for Earl Dee “Bud” Milliken, 82, were held in the Encampment School gymnasium Tuesday.
He died Feb. 28 in Laramie.
Loren “Teense” Willford conducted the Masonic Service.
His students called him Mr. Milliken, or more often Coach. He was a man who was not only highly respected, but who also taught respect. He was a disciplinarian to his three daughters, Becky, Marcy and Lisa, and to the young men and women who sat in his social studies classroom, were in his physical education classes or took part in the sports teams he coached. Those students learned the value of preparing for tests, wind sprints, the fast break and burning up the clock with the stall.
Mr. Milliken was born Aug. 25, 1930, in Hanna, the son of William and Rachel Milliken. He was the youngest of eight children and attended school in Hanna where he graduated in 1949. It almost did not happen. One day when he was in high school, he quit his classes. But he walked home past the candy store his father operated, and was met there by his father who had been alerted to his leaving the school by the principal. The teen boy was quickly persuaded to return to school and resume his studies.
He loved sports and played basketball and football for Hanna. Milliken also set pins at the bowling alley.
Out of high school, he went to work for the Union Pacific coal mines in Hanna, picking rocks from the coal, and later weighing the pit cars as they came out of the mine. He was then called to serve his country with the Army in Korea, where he fought on the front lines in the trenches, earning a purple heart when he was wounded with shrapnel in his leg, and losing much of his hearing from the explosions of grenades.
Returning to Hanna, he knew he did not want to spend his life working in the coal mine, so he married his sweetheart Morna Dodson, on September 4, 1954, and entered the University of Wyoming on the GI Bill. He became a trainer for the UW athletic teams and had an offer to stay with the Cowboys after college, but having always been interested in sports, he wanted to coach. After earning his degree in history and physical education from the University of Wyoming in 1958 he found a teaching and coaching job in Rock River.
Mr. Milliken first saw the Encampment Tiger gym when he was coaching the Rock River Longhorns. He spent 13 years teaching and coaching in Rock River, winning a share of regional basketball titles, taking his Longhorns to state, and also coaching cross country and track teams. Thinking it was time to give up coaching, he took an athletic director’s job in Valentine, Neb. After one year, Milliken realized he missed coaching.
A position teaching social studies and physical education, and coaching opened in Encampment, and Mr. Milliken was offered the job. He wasn’t sure he wanted to take it. He had never seen Encampment in the daylight—only at night when he’d arrived for basketball games with the Longhorns. His girls really hated the idea of moving to Encampment (they disliked the community because of the basketball rivalry between those two towns). But Ole Jim York called him, told him to come to Encampment, that he had a house for the family to live in. That sealed the deal.
The first Tiger basketball game he coached was against the Saratoga Panthers. He knew well the intense rivalry between those two Valley schools so before the game he told Morna to have the car gassed up and ready to go. If the Tigers lost he figured they would need a quick way to get out of town.
But Encampment won that contest, and as daughters Becky, Marcy and Lisa recalled, Ole Jim York told him since Encampment had beat Saratoga in the first game of the season the Coach had just made it a successful season whether or not Encampment won any more games that year. But Coach Milliken wasn’t one to stop with a single win, and he took the Tigers to a Regional Championship and played for the State Championship his first year at EHS.
Coach Milliken spent 20 years at EHS teaching social studies, physical education, coaching track and basketball, and serving as the activities director.
In Rock River he had instilled respect and pride in both team and community in his ball players. Those Longhorns came to games carefully dressed, all wearing matching blazers and ties. When Coach Milliken moved to Encampment he did the same and soon the Tigers showed up at games wearing ties with their matching red blazers.
Whether in the classroom, the school hall, or on the basketball court, all it took for Mr. Milliken to take control was one look, or maybe the pointing of a single finger. He inspired young athletes who became coaches themselves, and he inspired students in his classes who became teachers and principals, historians, engineers, soldiers and many other professions.
He amassed a basketball coaching record of 252 wins, 147 losses, six regional championships and three state championship runner-ups. He also coached a state championship runner-up team in cross country and won three regional track championships. He served as a representative on the Wyoming Coaches Association and in 1985 was inducted into the Wyoming Coaches Hall of Fame.
At one event honoring him, Dan Kraft, a former student ball player who became a coach himself told Coach Milliken, “On behalf of the boys you coached, who remember what it was like to run a few extra wind sprints, press full court, run the fast break, I’d like to say thank you. Your dedication, leadership, discipline and high standards taught us to be proud. Proud of our team, proud of our school, proud of our community and along the way we became especially proud of our coach.”
He was a member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Hanna, Masonic Lodge No. 50 of Hanna, where he became a Master Mason on Sept. 2, 1965, VFW Post 6125 in Encampment, The Cowboy Joe Club and a Lifetime member of the Wyoming Coaches Association.
He retired from teaching in 1992 and moved to Hanna, retaining close ties with the Encampment community, often attending basketball games to support the Tigers. He spent time with his daughters and their families, supported the UW Pokes, and traveled a bit.
In 2010 his daughters threw him an 80th birthday party as a forerunner to an All School Reunion in Encampment and hundreds showed up to wish him well.
He was preceded in death by his wife Morna, an infant son Stanley, his mother-in-law, Goldie Sherman, his parents, and six siblings. He is survived by his three daughters, Becky Hertzog, of Craig, Colo.; Marcy Cooley, of Saratoga, and Lisa Dilley (Michael), of Sinclair; his sister, Joyce Dody (Ken), of Fort Collins; seven grandchildren, Robyn Kitchen (Scott) and Rachel Lowe (Josh), of Craig; Evan Hertzog, of Denver; Chad Cooley (Jolene), of Wright; Angie Cooley of Saratoga; Jacob Fluty, of Saratoga; and Wyatt Fluty, of Powell; plus great-grandchildren Thayne, Corey Liz, and Kierlyn Kitchen and Quincy, Camille and Avenly Lowe, all of Craig, Colo.; Payton, Harley, and Reagan Cooley, of Wright, and Kadince Fluty, of Saratoga. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews. (Saratoga Sun March 6, 2013)