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.

By 1825 Joseph had returned to Lexington for good, opening a business with John Baxter, a wheelwright and wood turner. Their shop was located on South Broadway, on the same street and not far from where Milward Funeral Directors downtown home is located today.

While producing various pieces of furniture, they soon began to focus on producing caskets and providing aid for bereaved families in the community. Within 10 years, Joseph became sole proprietor of his business.

Although he would face major challenges and heavy losses during the depression dubbed the Panic of 1837, he weathered the storm and turned his company into one of the city’s most viable and successful businesses.

After 40 years in the business, Joseph retired in 1865 at the age of 61. His career was “a shining example of what sterling integrity and perseverance may achieve,” wrote The Biographical Encyclopedia of Kentucky in 1878. “Devoted to principle, he is always found on the side of justice, and his career has been marked by an unwavering adherence to right in all his transactions with his fellow 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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