Milton Stribling Killen, Jr.

By  | August 6, 2019 | Filed under: Laughlin Service Funeral Home, Obituaries

Milton S. Killen, Jr., LTC (USA) Ret.Milton Stribling Killen, Jr., LTC (USA) Ret., 92, passed away Friday, August 2. Born in Florence, Alabama on July 1, 1927, he was the eldest of four sons raised by Milton S. and Minnie Louise (Sharp) Killen. In later years, he took a keen interest in genealogy, with plenty of material to explore—his ancestors were among the earliest settlers of Lauderdale County in northern Alabama, and he also had deep roots in southern Tennessee. Family names include Morrison, Blessing, McDougal, Smiley, Richardson, and Peden.

Eager to serve his country, Milton joined the U.S. Navy’s Aircrewman Program at the age of 17 during World War II. He was a member of the first ROTC class at Florence State Teachers College (now the University of North Alabama) and was called to duty during the Korean War. Later, he transferred into active duty in the U.S. Army until his retirement as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1974. During his military career, he was assigned to posts in multiple states, as well as in Korea, Japan, France, Vietnam, and Thailand. His favorite assignment was leading ROTC at the University of Tennessee at Martin, where he spearheaded the creation of the advanced ROTC pre-program.

Milton’s devotion to his military profession was only surpassed by his deep commitment to his family. He met his wife of 68 years, Ann Clementine (Reid) Killen, when both were students at Florence State. Milton and Ann’s three children, Melinda, Reid, and E’lyse, were born in Florence, Alabama; Toledo, Ohio; and Verdun, France, respectively.

After he retired from the military, Milton and Ann retained their love of travel. Traveling, as Milton called it “the carny circuit”, he sold hand-crafted leather belts at NASCAR races, drove across the country in an airport runway cleaner truck, and worked in Saudi Arabia as a logistics manager. For a short period in the 1980s, while Milton was a sales representative for Brown Shoe Company, he and Ann toured the country in an RV. Later, the Killens upgraded to cruising, visiting every continent in the world on over forty cruises.
Milton also enjoyed piloting small aircraft, skiing, and acting. His theater bug led to numerous roles in plays, TV shows, and locally and nationally televised commercials. (Occasionally, he used the stage name “Slade Carson,” which amused his family!) For many years, he was the spokesperson for fund drives held by KERA-TV (PBS) in Dallas. He delighted in receiving residuals, for as much as one dollar, as a sheriff in “Walker, Texas Ranger”.

Aside from these hobbies, Milton spoke Thai and French fluently, and he learned to play the clarinet in his 60s (fulfilling a childhood promise he made to his mother!). He fed his passion for history by reading a wide range of biographies and holding a membership in the Sons of the American Revolution.

Milton is survived by his beloved wife Ann; his two daughters, Melinda Haines and E’lyse Hall; and his son and daughter-in-law, Reid and Karleen Killen. He was the proud grandfather of Jesse (Corlew-Haines) Bornemann, Parker Hall, Anna Reid Hall, Andrew Killen, and Lucianne Killen, and the great-grandfather of Hank Bornemann. He remained in contact with many friends he met along his life from elementary school, the Army and Navy, his 35 years in Texas and his varied careers. His two younger brothers, Don Killen and Jimmy Killen, predeceased him, and he is survived by one brother, William “Billy” Killen.

In appreciation of the care given by Hospice of North Alabama, the family suggests sending memorial contributions to a hospice of your choice.

His funeral, with full military honors, will be held graveside on August 10, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. at Florence City Cemetery, Florence, Alabama.

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