Jack Milton McMillin was born August 2, 1925 in Ballinger, Texas, as the youngest of five to Newton Smith McMillin and his wife Carrie Milam McMillin. His family life changed when he was just a small child when his mother died in an unusual accident involving the only car in the county. According to family oral history, Jack’s mother crossed the road quickly to join her family after a visit, and her foot got caught up in the spokes of the wheel and the tragedy occurred as the family looked on.
After this, Jack lived with his father, his father’s sister Mary, his brother Arthur, Arthur Jr., and Bobby, who was his sister Sadie’s son. Jack loved his Aunt Mary very much. He was raised by his unwed Aunt Mary from age 2.5, and he loved Aunt Mary's biscuits and kept the cast iron skillet she used. As a child, he would spend summers with his brother Ellis Avery and Vera McMillin. His first job was picking up pecans along the Concho River near San Angelo and selling them for .15 cents/pound. A typical weekend as a teenager was not much about having fun, but doing chores to help earn money for the family. They didn't have a well so some weekends were spent driving to a nearby neighbor’s house to buy 2 barrels of water for .05 cents each for themselves but made a small profit also transporting water to others at 25 cents per barrel.
He first learned to steer a model T pickup in the lap of his brother Arthur.
As a teenager, he noticed some pipes sticking out of the ground at a neighbor’s property. The old lady that owned it said that it was remnants of a bath house which was gravity fed water (downhill) using the underground pipes. He made an agreement with her to dig them up, sell them as scrap, and split the money with her. His brother found a buyer in San Angelo so he and a friend did the work. He was able to take home $30 and bought his first car, a used model A 'rumble-seat' (convertible).
Jack went to Carlsbad High School in Carlsbad, TX, but did not graduate, getting a GED instead. This was toward the end of the great depression and as part of Roosevelt's new deal of government programs, he went to school for welding and electrical. In 1943 at age 17 Jack was too young to be drafted without father's signature, but his father wouldn't sign. So he went to the draft board and told them he was 19 so he was able to join. He went to Mineral Wells for boot camp and ended up in Los Angeles with anti-aircraft construction around the city - since it was a major military installation. In Sept of 1944 they were taking volunteers for paratroops. He and a friend volunteered and on the 17th jump, which was at night in the wind, got turned up by the parachute just before landing and came down on his head, knocked out. He woke up later and spent 2 weeks in hospital with concussion symptoms and a longer term eye injury, so he was disqualified for deployment to Germany then.
He was sent to Georgia to a school where he was taught all systems of automotive repair -- he graduated #1. However, when he got back to Ft. Bragg his company had already deployed to Germany so he was assigned to an experimental maintenance company to live in the North Carolina wilderness for 3 years but took an opportunity to pick another branch of service. He took a free 90 day leave and chose the Air Force in a Caribbean installation. Assigned in Puerto Rico in a transportation company he moved up fast due to his extensive knowledge about automotive repair. One day, the commander of the entire Caribbean Air command, 1-star General John F Sanford had a car problem and heard of Jack the automotive whiz-kid. He doesn't recall the exact issue, but new the part was not available and had his brother Arthur send him the parts from America. After getting it running, he was the go-to person for the general. Since Puerto Rico had the best golf course in the Caribbean, then 4-star general Dwight Eisenhower visited the installation and Jack was chosen to chauffeur him around for the week-long visit, before he became president. After 2.5 years into the Puerto Rican tour, he was chosen to go to Antigua to overhaul about 150 vehicles, of which about half were not running. He ran the entire operation and was finished in time to complete his 3 year tour 1948 and begin his 10 year reserve duty.
However, just before pulling the trigger on opening a small automotive repair shop, Korean conflicts began so he re-enlisted in the Air Force and was deployed to Darmstadt, Germany as a PFC (lost all stripes when quit in 48) to a top-secret security service. In 1957, Jack moved to Okinawa, Japan, in maintenance of aircraft equipment and supply. As in the Caribbean, word spread of his automotive prowess and he was commissioned to the commanding officer's Packard and quickly received four promotions. Upon
Completing 20 years in the military he settled in San Antonio area first, working with a contractor at Randolph Air Force base doing maintenance on the very vehicles of which he had so much knowledge. He worked there for three years and then got a job with a pool service contractor. He started a thriving pool and spa service company, which he sold in 1985.
Jack married June Elaine Fair a bit later in life, and they both worked hard and kept a pack of Chihuahuas in whatever house they lived in, fixed up, designed, built, and sold. They hosted relatives for dinners, sleepovers, and even for Thanksgiving. June cooked up a storm, and Jack would grow fruits and vegetables on top of everything else he was doing. At the end, when June’s health was failing, Jack did everything he could to take care of her. I expect he’s happy to see her again, and we will miss them both.
A visitation will be from 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM on Friday, January 14, 2022 in the Elmwood Funeral Home's Family Center, 5750 Hwy 277 South. Following the visitation a graveside service will begin at 2:00 PM in Elmwood Memorial Park.
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