Milward Funeral Directors, Lexington Kentucky

William Rice Milward, Jr.

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. It has been written that the Latin phrase on the Milward coat-of-arms — nec termere, nec temide — best described Will Milward: “Neither boldly, nor timidly.” He embodied each of these seemingly contradictory traits, always finding the balance. His great talent was establishing a strong attention to detail. It remains his legacy.

That attention to detail was often born out of thoughtfulness for bereaved families. When it was customary to conduct funerals in homes, for instance, Will carried a small oil can in his pocket. He’d check for squeaky door hinges and oil them to prevent loud sounds by late arrivers from interrupting a service. Often he would join a quartet to sing in the service if need be — which was second nature to him because he regularly sang at Centenary Methodist Church, located at the time directly opposite the Broadway funeral home.

He was one of the first members of the Lexington Rotary Club organized in 1915 and, as chairman of attendance, would often pick up members who had missed the previous Thursday meeting and take them to Georgetown to make up their attendance. When seeking the services of other tradesmen for small jobs, Will often would not ask them what was owed but merely extended a handful of coins and say, “Take out what you want.” Will went on to serve on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, became Director of the Lexington Rotary Club, and served 11 terms on the vestry of Christ Episcopal Church.

Not long after joining the family business, a quality horse-drawn hearse was purchased in 1895. Restored today, the hearse can be viewed at the Kentucky Horse Park.
Will took over the business when his father died in 1915. During his years the business had expanded into moving, packing, and storing of household goods — along with an ambulance service. By 1917 horses were no longer regarded as the ideal means of transportation. Milward began to motorize their many vehicles.