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Wilkes County Veterans History Project: Joe McMillian

Veteran Top Box

Joe C. McMillian's Photos

Joe C. McMillian poses for a photo after he is promoted to sergeant. 


Joe C. McMillian poses for a photo in San Diego, California, where he completed basic training. 

Joe C. McMillian at a Navy school in Jacksonville, Florida (1953). 

Joe C. McMillian poses beside a military sign

in Korea (1956). 

Joe C. McMillian pictured with a fellow marine during his oversees tour. 

Joe C. McMillian's gift from his family on his 80th birthday, highlighting his marine medals and pictures from his service days.

Joe C. McMillian poses for a photo at a Japanese market in Okinawa.

Joe C. McMillian working on a helicopter in his unit. 

Joe McMillian

(L to R) Tom Mitchell, Edmund Greene, Joe McMillian, Charlie Rhodes,

and Mack Lankford

L to R: Tom Mitchell, Edmund Greene, Joe McMillian, Charlie Rhodes, Mack Langford

Allison Huffman, Wilkes Co. Veteran Services Officer, with Joe

Charter members of the North Wilkesboro Rotary Club receive Citizen of the Year awards

(L to R) Joe McMillian, John Matthews, Robert Greene, and Herman Province

(L to R) Joel, Joe and Lennie, with showcased memorabilia

Joe's Quilt of Valor

Joe with members of the Rotary Club

Joe McMillian's Story Submitted by Ken Welborn

A Sparta, N.C., native, Joe has been in Wilkes since the early 60’s. A standout student and athlete at 

Sparta High School, after attending college for a time he joined the United States Marine Corps and 

spent three years in Korea and Japan

After returning from service Joe finished college and married his high school sweetheart, Rebecca Moxley in 1956.  They had four children, Lennie, Melanie, Joel, and Edwin.

After a career in the dairy business, Joe worked for some time in real estate.  

In his family life, his military time, his business career, in his faith, and in service 

to his community, Joe McMillan has been an example anyone would do well to follow. 

I personally came to know him best through the Rotary Club.  

As a Charter Member of the North Wilkesboro Rotary Club, he was the perfect example of the "Service Above Self" motto of the club.

The first to volunteer, first to show up, and the last to leave, Joe McMillan is just good in whatever he takes on.  Joe is a proud member of the VFW and the Marine Corps League, and I personally am honored to tall him my friend.

 ~ Ken Welborn, The Wilkes Record

Joe Clint McMillian

Joe Clint McMillian was born in Sparta, North Carolina to Edward and Leila Cox McMillian on November 29, 1932. He was the youngest of seven children. His father passed away just weeks after his birth. He was fortunate to have two gentlemen neighbors who treated him like a son and taught him life lessons. They also gave him opportunities for work and wages. 

Joe can still recall all the residents of Sparta during his childhood and has fond memories of his early years. He loved sports and was the quarterback of his Sparta High School Football Team. He also played basketball and baseball and his senior class voted him most athletic and wittiest. After High School he headed to Dayton, Ohio, to join his siblings there and attend college.

He joined the United States Marine Corp and went to San Diego for Basic Training. From there he was stationed in Japan and Korea and stayed three years. Sergeant McMillian returned to Ohio and finished his college business degree, attending Ohio State University and Bliss College. He married his high school sweetheart, Rebecca Moxley in 1959. They shared an extraordinary devotion and love for 53 years.

Columbus, Ohio, was their first home as newlyweds, then returned to North Carolina for Joe to begin his career with Yadkin Valley Dairy. He Spent over thirty years in sales and management in the dairy industry based in Wilkesboro. Four children, Lennie, Melanie, Joel and Edwin were all reared in Wilkesboro on Edgewood Drive where Joe lives today. Grandchildren, Josh, Elizabeth, Savannah, Matthew, Caroline, Abby and Mario and great-grandson Brantley brings special joy to Joe's life.

After his first career and retirement, real estate sales became a passion. At 89, Joe works part time and enjoys being involved in the community with his beloved North Wilkesboro Rotary Club, of which he was a charter member and was president 1968-1969. He is a proud member of the Williams/Canter Detachment 1187 Marine Corps League and V.F.W. Post 1142. Joe is a life-long Methodist and is an active member of Wilkesboro United Methodist Church.

He also served two terms as a Wilkesboro town councilman and currently serves on the board of Wilkes Vocational Services - Sheltered Workshop. 

In July 2019, at age 87, Joe was in a terrible auto accident, but was not to be counted out. With his strength, and the support of his living children, who stayed with their father literally 24 hours a day through his hospital stay and months of rehab. Joe has made an amazing recovery and is now at every meeting and project once again. His first words after he regained consciousness was, "Have I missed any Rotary meetings?"

Enough said. 

His daughter Melanie, stated, "His family thanks the Rotary Club for this special honor. We appreciate your friendship and support for our Dad. We are blessed to be his children and to have seen his love and kindness shared with all of you."