Thursday, May 4, 2005

A Newspaper Legend
• Milan honored for 72 years as columnist

Staff Writer

A 72-year career as a newspaper columnist came to an end last week with a reception and resolution from the mayor and board of aldermen.

Henderson Milan, who has supplied a weekly news and church column to The South Reporter since age 12, has retired. He will be missed.

“Mr. Milan, I have known him all of my life,” said Leona Harris, curator of the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Museum in Holly Springs. “He was a great inspiration to me as a child growing up. Just to see a professional like him and knowing he was a teacher and involved in his church was always an inspiration.

“It’s hard to visualize The South Reporter without reading Mr. Milan’s article.”

Milan’s column was something looked forward to every week, she said.

“We would know what’s going on in Marshall County. He kept us informed on the organizations, which was a tremendous asset to the community.”

Harris said the community columns are a value to the entire community. It helps the readers “stay abreast of what is going on in the churches, the organizations and the community from the smallest to the largest.”

“Milan’s column has been a tremendous asset to our community and there will be a void there not reading his articles,” she said.

Former editor and publisher Walter Webb agreed.

“In the years I worked with him, his was one of the most widely read columns in the paper,” said Webb. “He was always an inspiration in the community and we are proud he represented us in all the meetings he attended all these years. We wish him well in his retirement.”

Mayor Andre’ DeBerry called Milan “an institution, not only as a journalist but in many other areas of community life.”

South Reporter editor and publisher Barry Burleson stressed the importance community journalists are to a weekly paper.

“They help define the weekly newspaper,” Burleson said, “and Mr. Milan is one of the best.”

Mrs. Milan said her husband was a “kind of a born journalist with lots of talent.”

“But he also took some instruction at Memphis State,” she added, after he had been writing a column for about 30 years.

“And he always got along well with the many editors he dealt with,” she said, and added, “I probably wouldn’t have gotten along as well as he did.”

Dennis and Martha Carlisle recalled Milan when he lived on West College Avenue.

“I would go to work at five o’clock and I’d see him out with a bucket picking up paper,” Dennis Carlisle Sr. said. “He wanted his street to look nice. He’s quite an unusual gentleman and he’s strictly a gentleman.”

Pastor Leroy James of Hopewell #1 called Milan “my inspiration for 10 years.

“He has been a treasure to this community and a treasure and inspiration to our church,” James said. “I know he’s been an inspiration to me. We have that band of love and he’s my best friend.”

Joseph Stone, principal at Holly Springs Primary School, recalled Milan “when he was a dedicated servant supporting Mississippi Industrial College. We could always count on him to be there,” he said.

Milan said he has enjoyed Hopewell #1 for 40 years - about 30 years as a deacon and as a church clerk for 11 years. He also served as church treasurer.

He was born in Byhalia, the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Henderson Milan Sr., parents to seven girls and four boys.

He is the only child living but has lots of cousins. Familiar family names of cousins are Jones and Echols.

Milan said his family encouraged him to write.

“And I enjoyed going to school, too,” he said.

He graduated from high school at MI College and returned there after 10 years military service to obtain a bachelor’s in elementary education. He met his wife, Mary, while they were at college and later taught history for 30 years at Galena School.

She taught first grade and special education in Benton County 37 years.

Milan served in the U.S. Army during World War II in Africa, Italy, Germany and France and in Japan after the war. He served in the Quartermaster Corps carrying food to soldiers.

He and Mary have been married 54 years.

Milan enjoys an active life. At age 84 he still likes to work in the yard, run the vacuum and carry clothes to the laundry.

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