Clinton J. “Jack” Milner 

Clinton J. “Jack” Milner 

Clinton J. “Jack” Milner 

WESTERLO — Clinton J. Milner, known to all as “Jack,” was a man who knew how to make things with his hands, said his wife of 40 years, Nancy Quay Milner. He was a skilled hunter, a craftsman, and a talented pool builder, she said. 

He lost “a valiant battle against heart disease on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, with his loved ones at his side,” his family wrote in a tribute. He was 79.

“He would figure things out in his head and then implement them. If he wanted to build something, he could build it without a plan,” said Mrs. Milner. 

A hard worker, Mr. Milner owned his own business and kept the family’s beef-cattle farm going, Mrs. Milner said. 

He was appointed to the Westerlo Planning Board and in 2008 was elected on the Repubican line to the Westerlo Town Board at a time when Democrats outnumbered Republicans in Westerlo, 3 to 1. He was the only Republican on the Democratically controlled town board. It was difficult for him, but he persevered, Mrs. Milner said, and made some inroads. After that involvement with local politics, he always seemed to follow politics, she said.  

It was the second marriage for both. “I tell people, ‘Forty years wasn’t bad for a second marriage,’” Mrs. Milner said. Mr. Milner had been a classmate of her older sister, and they reconnected as members of the same bowling league. “It was a very good attraction,” she recalled. 

“We threw seven kids together,” she said. Her children called him their “Bonus Dad.” 

The couple went on to have 10 grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. 

Mr. Milner was born in his family’s farmhouse on Route 85 on April 1, 1940 and was proud that his family’s ties to the area stretched back for generations, Mrs. Milner said. 

At age 17, when he had just completed the 11th grade, Mr. Milner followed an older brother into military service, joining the Marines. He was sent first to Parris Island in South Carolina, and then to Okinawa, Japan. He received an honorable discharge and then spent three years on active reserve. 

He completed his high school education, earning a general education diploma, in the service, Mrs. Milner said. 

After his discharge from the Marines, he married his first wife and went to work for Paddock Pools as a foreman. 

Eight years later, he started his own pool business, Helderberg Gunite Pool Builders, Mrs. Milner said, explaining that gunite is a pneumatically projected application of concrete. “It comes through a hose and you spray the concrete on,” she said. 

Mr. Milner operated the business from 1970 to 1995 and built pools locally and all over New England. He even made a pool for the Radisson Oasis Hotel in Egypt in 1979, Mrs. Milner said; she went with him on that trip. 

At the same time, Mr. Milner took over his father’s farm in 1982 and ran it until his death. “The last cattle left last fall, but at one time he managed over 100 head of cattle,” his wife said. He was a good mechanic, she said, and figured out the workings of and did all the repairs on the farm’s vehicles and equipment. 

“During haying season, there were always problems with equipment and he always got them fixed,” she said. 

His “recreational love” was hunting of all kinds, Mrs. Milner said, including with a shotgun, bow, and rifle. In his younger years,Mr. Milner was a trapper. He made vests from beaver pelts for his father, Mrs. Milner’s father, and himself, and a full-length beaver fur coat for her.  

In 2005, he built the home he shared with Mrs. Milner. “He had help, but he was the contractor and did most of the work himself,” his wife said. A plaque on the side door reads, “The house that Jack built,” she said. The great room, with its cathedral ceilings, is what their grandchildren call “the dead wall.” It is filled with his many trophy animals, “from the farm and several from out West.” 

The couple were members of the Helderberg Evangelical Lutheran Church in Berne, but also attended, every other week, the South Berne Congregational Christian Church. Mr. Milner was a major contractor doing the work on the belltower, she said, which is at the Helderberg Evangelical Lutheran Church and houses two bells, from Berne and East Berne. 

He was an active father, teaching his sons about hunting and farming. 

The girls never took up hunting, Mrs. Milner said. Mr. Milner was the “master of teaching them diving,” Mrs. Milner. 

The family always had a swimming pool, she said, and there was “lots of activity around the swimming pool.” 

****

Clinton J. Milner is survived by his wife, Nancy Quay Milner, and by his children, Linda, Martin, Anna, John, and Joshua and by the children who called him their “Bonus Dad”: Jennifer Fredrickson, and Heather Kanoza and her husband, Steven. He is also survived by 10 grandchildren and one great-grandbaby who called him “Pa.” 

Calling hours will be held on Thursday, Sept. 26, from 3 to 7 p.m. at the A.J. Cunningham Funeral Home at 4898 Route 81 in Greenville. 

A funeral will be held on Friday, Sept. 27, at 10 a.m. at the Helderberg Evangelical Lutheran Church at 1728 Helderberg Trail in Berne.

Mourners may leave condolences online at altamontenterprise.com/milestones.

Charitable donations may be made to the Helderberg Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1728 Helderberg Trail, Berne, New York 12023; to the South Berne Congregational Christian Church, 101 Church Rd., Berne, New York 12023; or to the Capital City Rescue Mission, 259 South Pearl St., Albany, New York 12202.

— Elizabeth Floyd Mair 

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