Millican remembered at memorial service

Late founding president of the University of Central Florida, Charles N. Millican, was remembered today at his 10 a.m. memorial service in the Pegasus Ballroom of the student union.

The service was pre-planned by Millican who chose the prayers, music and location. Friends said he planned the service to the very last detail, including his casket being carried out to the song When the Saints Come Marching In, by UCF Jazz Chamber Group. Millican died at the age of 94 in his Central Florida home on Dec. 1, on the 45th anniversary of the day he became president of what was Florida Technological University.

Loved ones said his last wish was to spend Christmas with his late wife Frances Millican.

Family, friends, alumni and students gathered to hear those closest to Millican speak of his memory, his impact on the Central Florida community, the story behind his vision of UCF and his faith.

J. Charles Gray, Chairman of the Board of trustees and founding director of the law firm GrayRobinson, P.A. spoke on behalf of the community. He mentioned how Millican wanted UCF to be a university that had partnerships within the community.

“Charles Millican was every bit of important to this region as was Walt Disney. The university he built became the economic and intellectual engine of a coast to coast super-region that has become the tenth largest US economy,” said Roger Pynn, one of Millican’s closest friends and UCF alumni. “I suggest to you [ the audience] that could not have happened without Charles Millican.”

What was designed to be a day of celebration, as friends said Millican wanted it, was not without tears.

Jeff Grasty, Millican’s adopted son, spoke on behalf of Millican’s family.

“When asked to do this I had to ask myself, ‘who was Charlie’s family?'”, he said. “Mr. Pynn told me to do that, I should speak on behalf of the students, alumni and university because that’s who his family was. Probably almost everyone in this room has had a moment — or moments — with Charlie, where you felt like you were family.”

Pynn mentioned how friends had a pair of stars in the Pegasus Constellation named after Millican and his late wife, Frances Millican. The certificates were framed at the service.

“When you go home tonight look into the sky and you’ll she beloved first couple sitting, just as it should be, side by side,” said President John Hitt, who spoke for the university.

Millican designed not only the campus, but its Pegasus logo as well.

“He came to the rattlesnake infested cow pasture campus on the east side of Orlando with a remarkable vision of a new university,” Hitt said. “That vision is as valid and representative of UCF today as it was when Charlie first dreamt it. His motto ‘reach for the stars’ has set the tone for all of the university’s aspirations. Few universities have enjoyed this kind of companionship with their founder.”

Article by Monique Valdes, Central Florida Future.

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