Article - Office of College Advancement

Ohlone College board member dies

By Alan Lopez, Correspondent.

Sunday, March 13, 2011—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area.

William McMillin, a longtime trustee with the Ohlone Community College Board, died Saturday after battling a severe form of leukemia for more than two years. He was 68.

McMillin was a former schoolteacher and principal before becoming a commercial real estate broker in 1977. He also was a community volunteer whose philosophy was to leave the world a better place than how it was found, his daughter Maya Marcus said.

"I want to thank everybody for the support of my dad during this difficult time," she said. "He was a man of honesty and integrity and a good role model for many of us."

McMillin, who was born in Warren, Ohio, on July 7, 1942, came to California in 1963 to attend Stanford University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in math and a master's degree in education.

From 1964 to 1970, he taught math and aviation and coached tennis in the San Francisco Unified School District.

He then moved to New York for seven years, where he was a middle school principal and completed course work for a doctorate in educational administration from Syracuse University.

He married Sandi McMillin in 1970; in 1976, he moved to Newark from New York to be closer to his in-laws and to bask in the California weather, Marcus said. The couple divorced in 1991 but remained good friends, Marcus said; Bill McMillin never remarried.

From 1994 to 2002, McMillin served on the Newark School Board and joined the Ohlone College board of trustees in 2002. In November, he was re-elected to a third term after running unopposed, former Ohlone trustee John Weed said.

Weed said that McMillin was highly respected in the community. Before he was first elected to the Ohlone board, he helped broker the deal for the college to buy the land that is now its Newark campus.

"He certainly influenced the decision making and in the end prevented the college from making terrible mistakes," Weed said.

McMillin was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in late 2008 and went through an intensive treatment at Stanford, Marcus said.

His treatment included a bone marrow stem cell transplant from his sister, as well as several rounds of chemotherapy.

Despite the rigors of the disease, McMillin continued to attend Ohlone trustee meetings, either in person or via telephone, up until last month, said Ohlone College Superintendent Gari Browning.

His death is not just a loss for the trustees but for the entire college community, Browning said.

In 2008, he was elected to serve on the California Community College Trustees Board, which advocates for the entire state college system.

"His reputation and his professionalism in terms of how he treated being a trustee was respected all over the state," Browning said.

In addition to his work in education, McMillin also served on the Newark Parks and Recreation Commission, the Community Development Advisory Committee and was president of the Lake Area Residents Association.

When he was diagnosed with leukemia, the prognosis was never good but McMillin remained positive, Marcus said.

His goal was to live another 10 years and "get back out on the tennis courts," she said.

She praised the team of doctors, nurses and staff at the Stanford Cancer Center and Hospital, which she called "the best in the world."

"When we were kids, he coached our Little League and soccer teams," she said. "He taught us that you might not always win, but as long as you play your best, that's what matters most. My dad wasn't able to win the battle with his leukemia, but I know he definitely played his best."

In addition to Marcus, McMillin is survived by his son, Mike, and three grandchildren.

A memorial at Ohlone College will be held as early as Thursday, Browning said. For updated information, contact the Ohlone College public information officer at 510-659-6208.

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