FRED GRADY LEE MILTON ~ Class of 1966
March 30, 1948 - January 11, 2011
In loving memory of our dear father and husband, Fred Grady Lee Milton, 62, who passed away unexpectedly in the early morning hours of January 11, 2011.
In his final days, Fred enjoyed a beautiful vacation with his beloved wife. He passed away surrounded by the trees, trails and sunshine that he loved. He is deeply missed and remembered fondly for his wisdom, courage, humor, integrity and strength.
Fred was born March 30, 1948, in the small Arkansas town of Sparkman. His father was a sharecropper, while his mother was a homemaker. Fred was the second child born into the loving family of Monroe and Dorothy Milton. Shortly after Fred's birth, the family moved to Malvern, AR. Another sibling, Wanda Jean, soon joined Fred and his older brother, Robert. After awhile, the family moved to Hot Springs, AR. Fred started school in Hot Springs before their father, traveling along the railroad line, moved with the children to the Tri-Cities area in Washington. Fred attended Columbia High School in Richland, class of 1966, where he received top athletic honors for football, wrestling and track, including the shot put state championship.
One of the very few black students, Fred excelled as a standout leader and community member. After high school Fred attended Wenatchee Junior College where he focused on football and was recruited by Oregon State University. Fred played middle linebacker at OSU where he was a member of the 1967 "Giant Killers" football team. While attending OSU, Fred responded to his position of athletic leadership with integrity and charisma, leading fellow black athletes in their pursuit of equitable treatment and basic human rights.
Fred received his college degree from Utah State University, becoming the first in the family to attain that goal. Fred continued his football career after college by playing in the Canadian Football League. Nagging injuries eventually forced him to leave professional football. While in college he met and fell in love with fellow student, Loretta Todd. They married December 27, 1969. Following his professional football career, Fred and Loretta moved to Portland and started a family.
As the years passed, there were three beautiful children born to this union. Their first child, a daughter, Zalika, was born June 17, 1973; their second daughter, Mandesa, was born January 22, 1976; and their third child, a son, Hasani, was born December 30, 1981.
Fred was employed by two major corporations, IBM and Liberty Mutual Insurance, where he was consistently recognized and awarded for his leadership skills. He then moved into Portland city government, working in the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) Model Cities Program, for two mayors as a department manager and business assistance liaison, for the Portland Development Commission, and for a city commissioner as chief executive. Fred eventually entered the 1990 county commissioner race with a desire to improve conditions in local neighborhoods. Fred was passionate about helping people and because of this, he gained employment under Multnomah County Chairwoman, Gladys McCoy. During his tenure he worked on several projects for the county, helping many citizens of Portland achieve better lives. After 15 years of civic service, Fred returned to his first love and directed his passion toward youth athletics.
Inspired by his daughters' volleyball careers, he founded the Portland Inner City Sports Club in 1993. Fred served as director, mentor and coach to many seasons of aspiring athletes. His belief in hard work, positive coaching and the potential for personal development through sports inspired coaches, players and families alike. Despite his passion and commitment, after several years Fred's old football injuries began to cause health problems, forcing him into semi-retirement. The pursuit of excellence in sports and beyond characterized Fred's life. He held a deep understanding of human nature as well as sports physiology.
He provided coaching for each of his children and was just beginning to repeat this cycle with his beloved grandchildren, Isaiah Adams, Alijah Gardner, Mekhi Gardner and Kale'a Tindal.
Fred lived a life of courage and conviction. He built bridges, broke down racial barriers and believed in service at his core. His life and example touched many. Fred received the Nike P.L.A.Y. Jackie Joyner-Kersee volunteer award honoring his work in youth athletics, and in honor of his athletic career, Fred was inducted into the 1992 State of Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.
Fred leaves behind his loving wife of 41 years, Loretta; his devoted and much loved children, Zalika Gardner, Mandesa Tindal and Hasani Milton; sons-in-law, Perry Gardner and Calvin Tindal; four wonderful grandchildren; siblings, Robert, Wanda and Christopher; a host of aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews; and many, many friends.
His mother and father preceded him in death.
A celebration of life will be held at 2pm Saturday, February 19, 2011, in Wilshire United Methodist Native American Fellowship, 3917 N.E. Shaver St., Portland.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Columbia Empire Volleyball Association in recognition of Fred's commitment to economic and social equity in youth athletics.
Published in The Oregonian on February 6, 2011