Former Michigan Governor William G. Milliken died Friday at his home in Traverse City. He was 97. Milliken was the state’s longest-serving governor, serving for 14 years until 1983.
Milliken was a moderate Republican, described as having a bipartisan style of cooperation, which made him popular with voters and politicians of both parties. Milliken was influential in civil rights, protecting the environment and boosting Detroit as it lost population with a shrinking auto industry. He signed legislation creating the Michigan Lottery in 1972.
Milliken became governor in 1969 after serving as Lt. Governor under Gov. George Romney, who resigned to join President Richard Nixon’s administration. Milliken was elected governor three times, but didn’t run again in 1982. He retired from politics at age 59.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer said “Governor Milliken was a true statesman who led our state with integrity and honor. He had a unique ability to bring people from both sides of the aisle together for the betterment of Michigan. We are a stronger, safer, more sustainable state because of his leadership and dedication to the people who call it home. I’ve always looked up to Governor Milliken as a trusted, respected leader and I’m proud to have called him a friend of the family. I extend my deepest and most heartfelt condolences to Governor Milliken’s family for their loss. May we all continue to learn from his lifetime of service as we work together to build a stronger Michigan for everyone.”