Edward H. Milner, age 87, of Spicer, died Sunday morning, Jan. 5, at the St. Cloud Hospital.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 12 noon, on Saturday, Jan. 11, at the Church of St. Mary in Willmar. Interment will be in the church cemetery. Military Honors will be provided by the Spicer American Legion Post #545. Visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. with an Elk’s Rest service at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 10, at Peterson Brothers Funeral Home in Willmar and visitation will continue for one hour prior to the service at the church on Saturday. In Lieu of flowers, memorials to the Hawk Creek Animal Shelter, Northstar Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Great Northern Railway Historical Society (GNRHS.org), or Heart of a Border Collie Rescue are preferred. www.petersonbrothers.com
Edward Herman Anthony Milner was born in Breckenridge, Minnesota on February 13, 1932. He was the son of Myles Joseph Milner and Anne (Vollrath) Milner. He grew up in Breckenridge, attended Catholic elementary school, and graduated from Breckenridge High School in 1950. He lettered in football his junior and senior year as a 132 pound running guard.
In 1952, he hired out on the Great Northern Railway. He was drafted and served in the U.S. Army with the 39th Anti Aircraft Artillery AW Battalion. He was stationed for 18 months in England at Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire and at MoD Sculthorpe in Norfolk. While on leave, he traveled to County Mayo, Ireland to visit the birthplace of his grandmother.
On June 13, 1959, he married Dolores Ann Seiler in Aberdeen, South Dakota. They settled in Willmar and raised four children. He continued to work for the Great Northern Railway as a brakeman and conductor on freight and passenger trains. Dolores died in 1980. In 1993, he married Ardys (McLane) Blokzyl. He retired from the Burlington Northern in 1993 after more than 40 years of service. Before her death in 2013, he and Ardys enjoyed many years of living on Green Lake after his retirement.
Ed was an active member of his church. He served as an usher for many years and was a Honorary Life member of the Willmar Knights of Columbus. He was also an active member of the Willmar Elks Lodge for more than 50 years. He represented the Elks at numerous Eagle Scout Courts of Honor. He was Elk of the Year in 2009 and served as Exalted Ruler for 1999-2000. He was also chairman of the Sheltered Workshop dance. He was a member of the Color Guard for Spicer American Legion Post #545 and served as Sergeant-at-Arms. He was a lifetime member of the Minnesota Territorial Pioneers and was very proud of, and knowledgeable about, his family history. He was a long time member of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, formerly the United Transportation Union (UTU). He served as secretary-treasurer of the Willmar branch of the UTU for several years.
Ed loved to dance. He continued to attend dances up until only a few weeks before he died. He loved crosswords and always did them in pen. He loved animals, especially his favorite dog Harley. He was a good horseman. He loved to chat up waitresses and he always ordered his coffee “Black. Like my heart.”
He is survived by his brother Myles J. Milner Jr of Kent, WA; sisters Sheila Milner (Lois Mechels) of Burtrum, MN, and Mary Ellen Milner Otis of St. Paul; his children Michael John (Eileen Miller), of Mound, Kathleen Mary (Kathleen Murphy) of Minneapolis, and Joseph Edward (Kristjan Selvig) of St. Paul; his grandson Michael J. Milner Jr, and his brother-in-law Jack Seiler and wife Suzanne. Also surviving are step children Roger (and Robin) Blokzyl of Spicer, Darwin Blokzyl of Kerkhoven, Bryan (and Sabrina) Blokzyl of Spicer, Darla (and Joe) Shimota of Willmar, Sheila Johnson of Marco Island, FL, Jerry (and Sheila) Blokzyl of Raymond, and Sherri Menk (Duane Slaughter) of Willmar; and numerous step grandchildren and step great grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers John F. Schmitt, Anthony W. Schmitt, and James W. Milner; sisters Magdalyn Schmitt Hesprich, and Kathryn Schmitt Thomas; his first wife Dolores and second wife Ardys; his special friend Kaye Jacobsen; and his son Gregory Patrick, who died in 2002.