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The McMillan family gathered to celebrate Dick and Molly’s golden wedding anniversary at Vista Verde Ranch, Steamboat Springs, Coloraƒdo, in June 1993. Family-coded flannel shirts arrived the previous Christmas.

Richard McMillan dies; known for his philanthropy

Dick’s obituary ran in the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Monday, June 19, 1995.


Richard McMillan always believed he owed his business success to divine intervention, so he often shared his good fortune with others up until his death Thursday. He was 75.

The lifelong Twin Cities resident was co-founder of McMillan Manufacturing Co. and its successor, McMillan Electric Co. McMillan was a frequent contributor to religious institutions including a $1-million gift to the New Brighton campus of United Theological Seminary in 1992.

“My husband was a man of God,” said his wife Molly. “Giving was his way of saying thanks to God for his success.”

McMillan was born into a prominent St. Paul family in 1919. His grandfather started McMillan Pork Products and his mother, Elsa was a popular singer. But the Depression affected his family’s financial situation.

During World War II, McMillan joined the U.S Navy Air Corps as a flight instructor. He was on leave waiting to ship out to the Pacific theater when the war ended.

It was in the postwar era that McMillan made his financial mark. With his brother, Malcolm, McMillan started McMillan Manufacturing Co. in his mother’s garage in 1946. The tool-making company rapidly expanded and employed 600 workers by 1968.

The company was sold in 1972, but McMillan became restless in retirement, said his wife. When the company went out of business, McMillan and his son Doug repurchased half the assets and formed McMillan Electric Co. The Woodville, Wis., firm manufactures fractional horsepower motors used in products such as fans, breadmakers and air conditioners.

McMillan was a member of the Young Presidents Organization and later the Minnesota Executives Organization and World Business Council.

McMillan’s financial generosity benefitted several organizations, including the United Theological Seminary, the House of Hope Presbyterian Church, the United Way, and the St. Paul Academy and Summit School. His gift to the seminary, which resulted in construction of the McMillan Center, stemmed from his wife’s ties with the institution. Molly McMillan received degrees from the seminary and was the institution’s interim president in 1982-83

A memorial service will be today at 3 p.m. at the House of Hope, 797 Summit Ave., St. Paul.