Thursday, December 24, 2009
Tribute to Mr. Milan
I had the great honor Saturday of making remarks at the “homegoing celebration” for Henderson Milan.
He died December 14 at the age of 88.
The inspiring service was held on the Rust College campus in the Doxey-Fine Arts Building Morehouse Auditorium. Burial followed in Hill Crest Cemetery.
Thanks to Mrs. (Mary) Milan for asking me to be part of the program. It was indeed a special experience, a highlight of my life and a memory that I will always cherish.
My tribute to Mr. Milan follows.
The South Reporter is in its 144th year. Amazingly, for half of its rich history, Henderson Milan wrote the Holly Springs News, a weekly column focused on local happenings.
He started at the age of 12. And just a few years back, in 2005, we hosted a retirement party for the man, who for 72 years, reported on community events, births, deaths, church activities, who visited who, and the list goes on and on.
During his long tenure, Mr. Milan graduated from hand-writing his news to utilizing a manual typewriter. Several years back, when he would bring his news by our office on South Center Street, each week it would get harder and harder to read the typed words. It was obvious his machine was failing. So we carried him a new piece of equipment – no, not a modern-day computer - just another manual typewriter.
He would often greet me on Monday mornings as I would arrive at the office about the time he was dropping off his news – “Good morning, Mr. Burleson, how are you?” His kindness was contagious.
And although he supposedly retired in 2005 with these words – “I’m retiring because my eyes are no longer able to help with the task of putting together a weekly column” - he kept bringing in special articles from time to time for publication. He loved to write and he loved Holly Springs.
Community columnists help define community newspapers. And it’s quite obvious if Webster’s had a definition beside the name South Reporter – it would include the name Henderson Milan. He was indeed a unique and special individual and his writings were also unique and special to the thousands of readers of The South Reporter.
During our retirement party, Leona Harris, curator of the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Museum, said “It’s hard to visualize reading The South Reporter without Mr. Milan’s article.”
Mayor Andre’ DeBerry called Milan – “an institution, not only as a journalist but in many other areas of community life.”
Mr. Milan was a recorder of Holly Springs’ history in Holly Springs’ history book, The South Reporter. He’s a newspaper legend.
But I think his legacy is much greater than that. Mr. Milan cared; he cared about his community; he cared about people. The kindness in his heart defined Mr. Milan.
And that lesson in love, in caring, in kindness, in goodness – that’s what Mr. Milan leaves us – and his hope today would be that we spread that throughout this community and let those characteristics define Holly Springs, Mississippi.
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