The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

November 12, 2009

Millikin receives Kiwanis award


DANVILLE — Jack Millikin, 90, was honored Thursday by his colleagues at the Days Hotel for 60 years of perfect attendance at Kiwanis Club meetings.

He had been recognized three years ago when his perfect attendance reached 57 years.

"But his 60-year record is pretty phenomenal," said Bob Fox, fellow Kiwanian. "We don’t know of anyone else who can claim the same attendance record."

For Millikin, his penchant for perfect attendance started way back in grade school.

"I got one of those perfect attendance certificates for all eight grades," he said. "They didn’t give those awards when I went to Danville High School, but one thing I know is that I never played hooky."

Millikin said when he joined Kiwanis in 1949 he never thought about striving for a perfect attendance record.

"I never made any promises that I would attend all the meetings," he said. "But I’ve always believed that if you are a member of something you should follow their rules. Besides, I think the Kiwanis is a good organization because we help a lot of people, especially children."

When asked about his secret for a long life, Millikin said, "I guess I’ve just been lucky. My mother lived to 92, so it’s probably in my genes. The Lord willing, I’ll be able to get an award for 65 years of perfect attendance in Kiwanis."

Proclamations were read at Thursday’s luncheon by Vermilion County Board Chairman Jim McMahon and Danville Mayor Scott Eisenhauer, recognizing Millikin for his outstanding achievements throughout the years.

Millikin has been a member of the Danville Boat Club for 68 years, the Danville Elks Club for 66 years, and the Danville Masons for 51 years.

In 2007, he established the Jack and Peggy Millikin Scholarship Fund for an outstanding high school student at DHS with money given to them by their grandson and his wife, Jim and Diana Millikin. In 2001, Jack Millikin and his wife donated eight acres of land at 1101 E. English St. to Danville District 118.

Danville Kiwanian Chuck Taylor, who organized the recognition event along with Debbie Lamar, said, "Jack has been a great member of Kiwanis and a great community leader for all these years. He’s always been known as a hard worker. In fact, I believe he still has some Pancake Breakfast tickets left from when he was chair in 1951. That’s when six tickets were selling for only $5."

The decision to accept women as Kiwanis members was another exciting time when much of the membership had mixed feelings.

"Back in 1987, I thought it was a good idea to admit women to the club," Millikin said, "and now I know we definitely made the right decision."

His father, Paul, was very active in Kiwanis and served as president of the organization in 1929.

"I’ll never forget when my father took me to the Kiwanis National Convention in Atlantic City, N.J., when I was 11 years old. I was really impressed, and right then I planned to join Kiwanis someday," Millikin said.

Millikin graduated from DHS and attended Millikin University. He became a partner in Millikin Dry Cleaners with his father in 1938, but started helping in the business when he was just a boy.

"The dry cleaning business was booming during the depression years because it was a lot cheaper back then to have your clothes cleaned than to buy new ones," he said. He took over the business in 1971, and in 1993 he turned it over to his son, Jim.

Millikin became a Realtor in 1963, and was named Realtor of the Year in 1992.

Even though he got out of the realty business last January, he still goes into his former office at 25 N. Franklin St. for some time every day.

Millikin is a charter member and past president of the Danville Jaycees, was chosen Man of the Week in 1949 by the Commercial-News, and was named Outstanding Jaycee of the Year in 1950. He was honored as the American Business Club First Citizen in 1959 and received the Kiwanis Club’s George F. Hixson Award in 1997.

He was top ticket salesman for Kiwanis Pancake Day and served as president of the Danville Kiwanis Club in 1954.

Millikin married Peggy in 1940, which was four years after they started dating. "We waited so long to get married because Peggy was slow in asking me," he said with a grin.

Millikin and his wife make frequent trips to their second home in Naples, Fla., but they always plan their traveling around his Kiwanis meeting schedule. If he attends Kiwanis meetings in other states, they will still count toward his weekly attendance record.

"For example, if we’re traveling, I have to be sure to either be in Naples on Wednesday for their meeting or in Danville on Thursday for the meeting here," he said.

Also, Kiwanis members are allowed to attend any of the three Kiwanis clubs in town — Kiwanis Breakfast, Kiwanis Noon, or Golden K Kiwanis — if they can’t make it to their own club. Kiwanians also can attend a committee meeting in place of a regular weekly meeting.

"I’ve often been asked why I didn’t change from the noon club to the Golden K Club," Millikin said. "I tell people that I’m not old enough to join the Golden K."

Paul Palazzolo, president of Kiwanis International, was the guest speaker at the recognition luncheon conducted for Millikin.

"It’s phenomenal for a member of the Kiwanis to have given so many years of their life to community service," Palazzolo said. "He’s a wonderful example of what many Kiwanians have done and what the current generation of members aspire to do."

"Danville has a good membership and a strong club," Palazzolo added. There are 250,000 Kiwanis members worldwide.