Obituary: Ida Jean Milliman, 81, Little Genesee

Milliman Ida Jean 

LITTLE GENESEE—Ida Jean Milliman passed away peacefully on Sunday, July 12, at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY.  She was born November 10, 1938 in Massena, NY to Ross and Ida Carter Wightman. She graduated from Massena High School in June of 1956 and on August 18, 1956, she married Wayne Milliman.

In the end, everyone’s life is a collection of stories to cherish and share, and anyone who knew Jean knows had some stories to tell! She loved an adventure and never turned down an opportunity to do something new. Whether it was a breakfast cruise on Seneca Lake with Dale Earnhardt, parasailing in Florida, white water rafting in West Virginia, taking a lap at Charlotte Motor Speedway at 167mph, or even sky diving at age 62, she was ready to go!

Her husband was blessed with a loving wife who was committed to their family. A life-long homemaker, she took her job seriously and created a home where everyone was welcome.  There was always room for one more friend to sleep over or one more chair at the dinner table. She gave generously of her time and her talents to benefit those who were fortunate enough to call her family or friend.

Her children were blessed with a mother who loved life and knew how to make things fun. She would jump on the trampoline with a middle school gym class, serve Kool-aid to grubby neighborhood kids from a cut glass punchbowl, or take 30 kids to summer sleepover camp, all while doing her best to make sure everyone was included and having a good time.  They learned to dance, double dutch jump rope, play jacks, ride bicycles, squabble, and love each other under her unwavering guidance. She also taught them right from wrong and made sure they knew that wrong has consequences.

Although she wasn’t born here, she adopted Allegany County as her home and was always thinking of ways to promote the rich history of the area. Jean was a founder of Bolivar Pioneer Oil Days, started the B.R.A.G. (Bolivar Richburg Allentown and Genesee) Historical Society and was a driving force behind the restoration of the Ceres Schoolhouse that houses the B.R.A.G. Museum.  She helped organize the Allegany County History Preservation Roundtable, a monthly gathering of local historians working together to highlight the history of their communities. She organized the Bolivar Antique Angels Red Hat group and as the Queen Mum, she made sure that each group outing was a visit to a local point of interest. Wearing red hats and blowing kazoos, the women learned about the Belmont Horn Room, the Cuba Cheese Museum, Pollywogg Holler, and many other, often-overlooked sites in Allegany County.

A firm believer that you have to know where you came from to know who you are, she spent decades researching her family tree. She eventually documented her family history back to William Brewster, one of the passengers who came to America on the Mayflower. She was a member of the Mayflower Society and the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Those who knew her know she loved a bargain, and most every family outing included a stop at a yard sale or thrift store where she eagerly searched for beloved treasures. Her family joked that instead of a headstone they would pile all her “treasures” on her grave site and call it a perpetual yard sale. If visitors found something they liked, they could take it home; if they had something they didn’t want anymore, they could drop it off  Although she laughed about it, she really liked the idea.

Jean will be missed by her husband of 63 years, Wayne Milliman, of Little Genesee; her children, Dennis & Melodie Milliman Farwell of Cuba, NY, Lynn & Penny Milliman Lippert of Allegany, NY, Tom & Jenifer Eagan Milliman of Churchville, NY, and Mike & Norma Lopez Milliman of Concord, NC; 14 grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by an infant daughter, April Marie Milliman; a daughter-in-law, Louise Caruso Milliman; and her brothers, Don Wightman and Ross Wightman.

At her request, no funeral service will be held. A memorial gathering will be planned at a later date.

The family suggests memorials in Jean’s name be made to the B.R.A.G. Historical Society, 390 Main St., Bolivar, NY 14715.