SPARTANBURG, SC— Roger Milliken, one of the last in the tradition of those great industrialists who built America's manufacturing success, passed away on December 30, 2010 at the age of ninety-five.
His five children issued the following statement: “Daddy lived a rewarding ninety-five years. We are grateful, as was he, for the friendship and support from so many that enabled him to live a full, productive, creative, and passionate life. He enjoyed every minute of it.”
Mr. Milliken lived by ideas and principles from which he never wavered. He believed that America’s manufacturing leadership was the foundation of his nation’s economic achievement.
His personal examples of uncompromising integrity, of hard work in any just cause, and an inexhaustible passion for excellence shone in his every undertaking. His beliefs were his commitments, whether to life-long education, to quality, to innovation, or as demonstrated in his absolute commitment to the health and safety of all of his associates.
Even in the last years of his long and fruitful life, he continued to plant more trees, knowing well that they would not attain their full, noble majesty for the span of yet another very long human lifetime.
Under his long leadership, the company—founded in 1865 by his grandfather, Seth Milliken and expanded by his father, Gerrish—grew to become the largest privately-held textile and chemical manufacturer in the world, and home to the world’s largest textile research facility.
Roger Milliken became president of the company on the death of his father in 1947, and served in that capacity until 1983. That year, he became chairman and chief executive officer of Milliken & Company and named Dr. Thomas J. Malone as president and chief operating officer. In 2002 Dr. Malone retired, and Dr. Ashley Allen was named president and COO, becoming CEO in 2006 as Mr. Milliken stepped aside from daily management. In 2008 Dr. Allen retired and was succeeded by Dr. Joe Salley. Mr. Milliken continued as chairman of the board until his death.
“We are in a profound state of sadness,” said Milliken CEO Joe Salley. “Not only was Mr. Milliken a great leader, but he was also the consummate builder. He helped build businesses and educational institutions, manufacturing plants and academic facilities, communities and arboreta. Most of all, he gained and built upon the gratitude, admiration, and love of all the associates of Milliken & Company. We will miss him greatly.”
Headquartered in Spartanburg, SC, the 145-year-old, family-owned, technology-based company provides innovative technical and industrial materials, highly-specialized chemicals and floor coverings for customers around the world.
Roger Milliken was born October 24, 1915 and was married to the late Justine Van Rensselaer Hooper. They are survived by five children—Jan, Nancy, Roger, David and Weston—and nine grandchildren.
An on-line tribute Mr. Milliken has been set up in order for associates, friends, business colleagues, and members of the press to learn more about his remarkable life. Information, a brief biography of his life accomplishments, and several tribute videos, can be accessed at the Milliken & company home page www.milliken.com.