YVONNE W. MILLIKEN
October 1, 1924 - June 6, 2020
Yvonne Walker Milliken, 95, formerly of Bakersfield and Cambria, and recently of Fort Collins, Colorado, peacefully left us on Saturday, June 6, 2020, to join her beloved husband, Bob, in heaven. Born in South Dakota, she was raised in Los Angeles and Denver, graduating from St. Mary's Academy and Colorado State College, now UNC, where she met Bob Milliken. They married at a small church in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, when he got a three-day pass over the 1943 Christmas holiday while still in flight training during WWII. After the war, they received their baccalaureate degrees together.
In 1947, Yvonne and Bob began elementary school teaching in McFarland. Experiences with students and friends during those years became treasured memories. After Yvonne left McFarland in 1956, she moved to Shafter High School, becoming the pretty, too-young-looking Girls Counselor while also teaching English. In 1962 she became an early female high school administrator as Dean of Girls and Counselor at Foothill High School's opening. There she began a career-long oversight of scholarships to open up student opportunities and became Assistant Principal & Director of Curriculum in 1966. Yvonne, well-liked and respected, whose work and life were characterized as being student-centered, respectful, always smiling, professional, classy, gracious, & willing to help, offered encouragement and hope. She did what was right.
Yvonne's early interest in acting and directing grew, honing her craft in both McFarland and Delano through an annual McFarland Elementary School Home Talent Variety Show and other shows. These prepared her to become an accomplished, brilliant actress in such shows as Starlight of Kern's Damn Yankees ; Bakersfield Community Theater's The Pleasure of His Company and also Ladies in Retirement with an award-winning performance as Ellen; The Showcase Company's Little Foxes playing Regina; and the BC Renegade Theater's The Lion in Winter , memorably playing Eleanor of Aquitaine in an electric, stunning performance. Combining her love of words and acting with a life-time of educating others, she also judged acting and writing competitions.
In 1967 Yvonne found her work home at Bakersfield College, first as a counselor and English instructor and soon after as an associate dean, Student Services. As a dean, her responsibilities included Advising and Counseling, Student Housing, and Financial Aid. She was also asked to help organize meetings in 1975 to form the Bakersfield College Foundation, resulting in cooperation with Financial Aid scholarship programs and having an impact still felt today, 45 years later. She served on the Foundation's first board of directors and also assisted Peggy Buckley and Carol Sharpe with scholarship support needed for their respective developing departments, Nursing (now Nursing & Allied Health) and Child Development (now Family & Consumer Education). Yvonne also found time to earn a Master's degree in Counseling and Guidance from Fresno State and instruct for them, as well as reward herself with occasional shopping trips with friends to Los Angeles.
In the late '70s the couple discovered Cambria, purchased a small cottage, and began remodeling. There, upon Yvonne's retirement from Bakersfield College in the mid-'80s, they enjoyed the sea, the pines, and their many new friends during the remainder of their 67 years of marriage together before Bob's passing in 2011. During those years Yvonne continued acting with roles in many performances including in The Kingfisher at the Pewter Plough Playhouse. She also owned the Cat's Corner gift shop (before the flood) and later the Pine Tree Patchworks quilt shop. There she shared her skills with many through Cambria Calico Quilters and teaching quilting and crafts classes in Cambria through Cuesta College.
Survivors include her grandson, Ben Milliken, Bakersfield; nephew, Ross Milliken, Colorado; nieces, Lynne Milliken, Colorado, and Lisa Higby, Idaho; ten great nieces and -nephews; and three great, great nieces. She was much loved and will be greatly missed.
Special thanks to the caregivers who kept her safe and healthy to the end of this life. Thanks also to former students, friends, and/or colleagues Bona Dillon, Phil Feldman, Jim Fillbrandt, Helen Harp, Kori Harrison, Laddie Kumelos, Jerry Ludeke, Alan Paradise, Ned Permenter, Harvel Pollard, Karla Quintero, and Joe Thompson who provided details of Yvonne's decades in Kern County.
Memorial services might be announced in the future as conditions permit. Donations in Yvonne's honor may be made to the Bakersfield College Foundation Scholarship Fund or to the Bakersfield College Archives.