Antique Vintage 02
Official Obituary of

John Ralph Milligan, JR

April 9, 1928 ~ March 23, 2024 (age 95) 95 Years Old

John Milligan, JR Obituary

John Ralph Milligan, Jr.

From childhood, John (“Jack”) Milligan held a deep faith in his savior, Jesus Christ. A life of love and service to his church, family, community, and profession followed. He passed away on March 23, 2024.

In 1928, Milligan was born in East Liverpool, Ohio to Ralph and Kathryn Milligan. He grew up in Lakewood, Ohio. After graduation from Lakewood High School, he attended Wooster College where he met his beloved wife, Phyllis.

Milligan attended the University of Michigan Law School, graduating in 1952. He and Phyllis moved to Canton that same year and he started in the practice of law. In 1963, Milligan was elected Judge of the Stark County Family Court where he served until elected to the Fifth District Court of Appeals in 1980. He served as an appellate judge until his retirement in 1993. During this time, he wrote over 250 legal opinions in the Court of Appeals and the Ohio Supreme Court.

While a Family Court Judge, Milligan wrote the 1,349 page, two-volume legal treatise Ohio Practice: Family Law published in 1975. In 1982, he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the National Advisory Committee for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. In 1988, Milligan was appointed to the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline of the Supreme Court of Ohio where he served three full terms until 1996.

Judge Milligan served as Chair of the Ohio Judicial Conference, President of the Association of the Ohio Association of the Juvenile Court judges, trustee of the National Council of Juvenile & Family Court Judges and President of the Stark County Bar Association.

During his judicial career, Milligan developed a deep affection for the Ukrainian people who he had come to know through visits as a representative of the Ohio Supreme Court working to improve the Ukrainian justice system.

In 1987, Judge Milligan arranged for the late Justice of Supreme Court Sandra Day O’Connor to visit Stark County where she spoke of the importance of the constitution.

The highlight of his judicial career was being honored by the Ohio State Bar Association as the first recipient of the Thomas J. Moyer Award for Judicial Excellence given to a judge “who demonstrates outstanding qualities of judicial excellence, including integrity, fairness, open-mindedness, knowledge of the law, professionalism, ethics, creativity, sound judgment, courage, and decisiveness.”

Jack Milligan was a central figure in the Canton community, having been instrumental in the creation of the Multi-County Juvenile Attention Center (the Stark Campus is dedicated in his name), Young Life of Stark County, Inc., Interfaith Campus Ministry, the Wooster College Lay Academy of Religion, and the Logos Institute. He served on many non-profit community boards, including Malone University and the YMCA. Jack was a member and elder of Christ Presbyterian Church which he served for decades.

Family was at the center of Jack’s life. He made sure the family gathered whenever possible even as the children and grandchildren grew into adulthood.

For 73 years, Jack was married to his beloved wife Phyllis who passed in December, 2023. He is survived by his three children, Jim Milligan of Traverse City, MI; Richard Milligan (Laura Carr) of Canton; Nancy Stewart of Kalamazoo, MI; his beloved grandchildren Katie Milligan; Samantha Stewart; Ted Stewart; Rachel Helton (Gabe Helton); Mallory Milligan; Sarah Milligan; Anna Milligan; and Faith Milligan; and a great grandchild, Andrew James Humphrey.

Jack was preceded in death by his wife Phyllis, his father Ralph Milligan, mother Kathryn Milligan and his brother Richard (“Dick”) Milligan.

In later years, Jack received exemplary, loving care from the staff of Sanctuary Grande, Aultman Hospital and CorsoCare Hospice.

Visitation will be on Tuesday, April 2, 2024 from 9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. at Christ Presbyterian Church in Canton followed by a Celebration of the Resurrection at 11. Luncheon to follow.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Christ Presbyterian Church, 530 Tuscarawas St W, Canton, OH 44702, or to Stark County Young Life, PO Box 9415, Canton, OH 44711, Please sign the tribute page.


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Celebration of Life
April 2, 2024

11:00 AM
Christ Presbyterian Church (Tuscarawas Street, Canton, Ohio)


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