FLOW Launches “Helen & William G. Milliken Fund For Love of Water”

Gov. Whitmer is scheduled to speak at Aug. 6 memorial at Interlochen for Michigan’s longest-serving governor

With the approach of the August 6, 2020, memorial service for beloved former Michigan Governor William G. Milliken, FLOW is honored to announce the creation of the Helen and William G. Milliken Fund For Love of Water to extend the former First Family of Michigan’s legacy of equity and environmental protection.

The Milliken Fund is designed to support work that protects the Great Lakes and the public trust rights of those who depend on them, inspires community action advancing environmental stewardship, and sustains internships at FLOW—which is based in Governor Milliken’s hometown of Traverse City—to foster a new generation of environmental leaders. (Click here to read about this summer’s inaugural FLOW Milliken Fund Interns, Zoe Gum and Emma Moulton).

Established at FLOW by a bequest from the Milliken family, the Milliken Fund is welcoming donations from members of the public interested in investing in and extending Helen and Governor Milliken’s legacy of protecting the environment and especially the Great Lakes, advancing social equity, and promoting civility and bipartisanship.

“Organizations like FLOW have built themselves around the same policies that both of my parents advocated,” said Bill Milliken, Jr., a prominent Ann Arbor commercial realtor, who carries on the family tradition of public service in multiple roles, including as a board member of the Mackinac Bridge Authority, Washtenaw Community College, New Detroit, and the Groundwork Center. “Supporting FLOW helps make their legacy more visible.”

The longest-serving governor in Michigan’s history whose public service reached back to World War II, William G. Milliken passed away October 18, 2019, in Traverse City at age 97. He served as governor of Michigan from 1969 to 1983. He was preceded in death by the passing in late 2012 of his wife Helen, who also earned a reputation for environmental stewardship, elevation of women’s rights, advocacy for the arts, and an abiding decency toward others.

The memorial service and celebration of Governor Milliken’s life will take place at 2:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday, August 6, at the 4,000-seat, open-air Kresge Auditorium at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, where he served on the Board of Trustees from 1983-1997. The gathering is free and open to the public. 

Speakers at the August 6 event include Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer; Bill Rustem, a senior policy advisor in both the Milliken and Snyder administrations; Capt. Arlan Brower, retired from the Michigan State Police; Chuck Stokes of WXYZ-TV; and journalist and longtime friend Jack Lessenberry. Those attending are encouraged to arrive early and be seated to help accommodate Governor Whitmer’s schedule. The memorial also will be broadcast live on IPR News Radio. Listen online or with a mobile device or on the radio to WICA-FM 91.5 Traverse City, WHBP-FM 90.1 Harbor Springs, or WLMN-FM 89.7 Manistee.

“It’s an honor for FLOW to be associated with Governor Milliken’s life and legacy, including his many environmental accomplishments,” said Liz Kirkwood, executive director of FLOW. “The Governor and his wife Helen did so much for our air, land, water, fish, and wildlife, and their efforts continue to benefit Michigan and all who live and visit here. We pledge to extend those efforts and engage the public, communities, and emerging environmental leaders in the shared effort.”

“We are deeply grateful to the Milliken family for their selecting FLOW to carry on the good works of Bill and Helen Milliken,” said FLOW founder and legal advisor Jim Olson, a Traverse City native and friend of Governor Milliken and his family. “We are inspired by their leadership that elevated the State of Michigan to be a national leader in the strength and scope of its environmental laws and policies, many of them directly addressing Great Lakes water diversion and  water quality issues.”

The Governor’s environmental accomplishments include:

  • The signing of Michigan’s landmark Environmental Protection Act on July 27, 1970;
  • Critical support for Michigan’s beverage container deposit law, which Michigan voters approved in the 1975 general election;
  • Leadership to enact Michigan’s nationally-recognized Wetland Protection Act;
  • Expanding state funding of recreation and parks programs to include urban areas like Detroit;
  • Controls on phosphorus pollution from detergent soaps, which led to dramatic reductions in algae blooms; and
  • The signing of laws to protect sand dunes, control hazardous waste, promote recycling, and create what is now the Natural Resources Trust Fund, which has provided more than $1 billion to purchase and steward recreational and environmentally significant land.

FLOW senior policy advisor Dave Dempsey, an author of several books on the Great Lakes and Michigan’s environment, wrote in his 2006 biography, William G. Milliken: Michigan’s Passionate Moderate, “Governor Milliken is Michigan’s gold standard for environmental stewardship, civility in public life and a concern for all the citizens of Michigan. It was a profound pleasure to get to know the Millikens in the course of writing the biography.”

Before becoming Governor, William G. Milliken served in the state senate and as the state’s lieutenant governor. He also was president of the former Milliken’s department stores. He flew 50 combat missions in Europe during World War II, surviving two crash landings and receiving seven military honors, including the Purple Heart and Air Medal.


August 6 — 2:00 pm EDT Memorial Service for Governor William G. Milliken at Interlochen Center for the Arts

The memorial service and celebration of Governor Milliken’s life will take place at 2:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday, August 6, at the 4,000-seat, open-air Kresge Auditorium at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, where he served on the Board of Trustees from 1983-1997. The gathering is free and open to the public. Speakers at the August 6 event include Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer; Bill Rustem, a senior policy advisor in both the Milliken and Snyder administrations; Capt. Arlan Brower, retired from the Michigan State Police; Chuck Stokes of WXYZ-TV; and journalist and longtime friend Jack Lessenberry. Those attending are encouraged to arrive early and be seated to help accommodate Governor Whitmer’s schedule.

Attendees are asked to register for the memorial service so that capacity can be monitored in an effort to plan for social distancing and other health and safety considerations. Please visit Eventbrite to register. Capacity will be limited and registration does not confirm a reservation. Attendees are asked to plan to honor public health safety measures including face coverings and adhering to physical distancing. 

The memorial will be broadcast live on IPR News Radio. Listen online or with a mobile device or on the radio to WICA-FM 91.5 Traverse City, WHBP-FM 90.1 Harbor Springs, or WLMN-FM 89.7 Manistee and other NPR affiliates in Michigan.

WTVS Detroit Public Television will offer a livestream of the event at www.dptv.org

Read about FLOW’s Helen and William G. Milliken Fund For Love of Water, and learn about your opportunity to make a gift to extend the former First Family of Michigan’s legacy of equity and environmental protection.

Watch FLOW’s Video Testimonials Honoring Gov. William and Helen Milliken. Enjoy remembrances and reflections from Bill Milliken, Jr., Ann Rogers, Bill Rustem, and many others.

 

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Gov. Whitmer is scheduled to speak at Aug. 6 memorial at Interlochen for Michigan’s longest-serving governor