A Key Decision: Col. William Rice Milward

Col. William Rice Milward

1842-1915

When Joseph retired, he turned the business over to his remaining sons in 1865. One of these sons, Colonel William Rice Milward, would eventually assume the leadership role.

It led to a key decision in 1887, when Colonel Milward permanently separated the funeral directing from the retail furniture store. The business first moved to Main Street, and then, in 1896, to what is now 267 South Broadway.

Nine years later, in 1905, Colonel Milward had a three-story site built at 159 North Broadway. The building was 66 feet in width and 190 feet in depth. Offices were in the front of the first floor with hearses and vehicles stored in the rear. Horses were kept on the second floor and the third floor was storage.

The site that Colonel Milward built at 159 North Broadway remains the downtown site for Milward Funeral Directors today.

Colonel Milward had earned his designation through service with the Union Army in the Civil War. All of Joseph’s sons served. One of them, Charles, was killed in battle. William was not yet 20 when he enlisted in Company A of the 21st Kentucky Volunteers Union Army, elected as a first lieutenant. By war’s end he had been promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel.

He was a man of extraordinary vision and understanding — becoming an honorary member of the Lexington Chapter of the United Confederate Veterans despite his history as a Union officer. This ability to extend the hand of reconciliation was typical of Colonel Milward.

Upon his death in 1915, Major P.P. Johnston, chapter president of the Confederate veterans, issued an appeal in the Lexington Leader to all members to attend the funeral “…of our lifelong friend, Col. W.R. Milward, a gallant and uncompromising Union Soldier, always loyal to all that his service implied. The war over, he extended the hand of friendship to his fellow citizens, who retired from the fight and gave them recognition due to brave men…”

The Beginnings: Joseph Milward
Joseph Milward

1803-1883

Born in Baltimore in 1803, Joseph was brought to Lexington as a young child by his widowed mother. At 16 he became an apprentice cabinet maker and for a time was a journeyman craftsman in Cincinnati and later in Richmond, Ky.

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A Key Decision: Col. William Rice Milward
Col. William Rice Milward

1842-1915

When Joseph retired, he turned the business over to his remaining sons in 1865. One of these sons, Colonel William Rice Milward, would eventually assume the leadership role.

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Attention to Detail: William Rice Milward, Jr.
William Rice Milward, Jr.

1869-1947

Born in 1869, “Will,” as he was affectionately known to his friends, joined his father in the family business in 1892 at the age of 23.

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An Admired Civic Leader: William Emmet Milward
William Emmet Milward

1904-1972

Emmet Milward entered the family business in 1926 and by 1942 had played an instrumental role in completing a comprehensive expansion and rehabilitation of the mortuary at 159 North Broadway.

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Continuing the Tradition: Robert Emmet Milward
Robert Emmet Milward

1936-Present

A graduate of the University of Virginia, Bob has carried forth the Milward tradition while serving on several professional associations — including Selected Independent Funeral Homes, Kentucky Funeral Directors Association and the National Foundation of Funeral Service.

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The Youngest Generation: Robert Emmet Milward, Jr.
Robert Emmet Milward, Jr.

1969-Present

The sixth generation of the family to carry on the Milward family tradition, Robert E. Milward Jr. Joined his father in the business in 1994, and currently serves as Vice President.

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