By EMMALEE C. TORISK
Harold Milligan Jr. gives his late father, Harold Milligan Sr., full credit for laying the foundation that keeps him upright.
“He was a man of great dignity and honor, and his accomplishments were noble and admirable,” the younger Milligan said. “He was far greater than any other man that I know. He was my dad, my mentor, my friend.”
The younger Milligan said his father, who died Wednesday at age 102, was simply a “born caretaker” who “loved to serve and better the community” of Struthers, which he’d called home for the past 94 years. He was born in Lowellville.
A 1929 graduate of Struthers High School, Harold Milligan Sr. served on the Struthers Board of Education from 1945 to 1952, until he resigned to become the city’s mayor. He then served six- consecutive terms, from 1952 through 1964, at the post.
In addition, the elder Milligan was a partner at Milligan Dairy for 38 years, worked for Youngstown Sheet & Tube in research for 12 years, and assumed leadership roles in a multitude of organizations, including the state and national municipal leagues, the Struthers Business Men’s Association and the Youngstown Men’s Garden Club.
As a result, Harold Milligan Sr. “was so many different things to so many different people,” and has left an assortment of legacies to all those he touched, said Pastor James Berkebile of the Struthers Parkside Church, formerly Struthers Presbyterian Church, where the elder Milligan was a lifelong member.
“He delivered milk; his family had a farm; he was involved in politics; he was on the school board; he was the mayor; he was involved in his church; he loved his family,” Pastor Berkebile said. “To paraphrase him, ‘When you stop, you die.’ He always kept himself going, and he always had something that needed to be done.”
The pastor added that everybody knew and had a lot of respect for the elder Milligan, often referring to him as “the wise sage of Struthers” whose mind never ceased to be “sharp as a tack.”
Mayor Terry Stocker, too, emphasized that Harold Milligan Sr. was “basically a book of knowledge,” and recalled one particular encounter that happened when Stocker first assumed office in 2008.
Stocker said he was then faced with a dispute over the maintenance of a state route that the county insisted was solely the city’s responsibility.
However, when consulted, the elder Milligan remembered things a bit differently, telling Stocker to “go down to the courthouse and look through the records.” He believed that “city council had met on Christmas Eve in a snowstorm in a certain year” to clarify the very same issue, Stocker said.
“It turns out that the county didn’t read far enough” into the agree- ment, which had been made nearly 50 years prior, Stocker said. “He remembered all those type of things. We dodged a bullet, especially with the cost of doing that road.”
Stocker said the elder Milligan definitely left his mark on the city, adding that he will be sadly missed.
“His heart’s always been in the community,” Stocker said. “His legacy as a contributor, as ‘Mr. Struthers,’ will never be forgotten.”