James Jefferson "Jeff" McMillanMarch 12, 1949 ~ August 30, 2017 (age 68)
James Jefferson “Jeff” McMillan of Portland, ME, a beloved husband and father, architect, world traveler and reservoir of obscure trivia and pop-culture knowledge, died Wednesday after a seven-year battle with liver disease. He was 68.
Jeff was a reserved man with a dry wit, unparalleled intellect and many diverse passions. Among the things he loved: Southern barbecue, Duke basketball, blues, early rock music, wilderness, big cities, science fiction, classic Westerns, Bob Dylan, puzzles, film noir and Thai food.
In his final days, he was surrounded by family, which brought him great joy. Despite having significant pain from his illness, he asked the doctors to ease back on his pain medication so he could lucidly interact with his wife, Yvonne Berry, and his children, Susan and David.
He bobbed his head to Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” while looking at old photos, and Howlin’ Wolf crooned over speakers as he slept. Yvonne sang Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me, Babe” to him while he lay in bed.
Yvonne and Jeff celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary in August. They met as social workers in Tampa in 1977 – Yvonne was a trainee, Jeff a supervisor – and their first date was at a Waylon Jennings and Emmy Lou Harris concert.
Always the progressive couple, Jeff bought the concert tickets and Yvonne bought dinner. They passed those traits onto their children, who both have strong co-equal relationships and passionately fight for equal rights and civil rights.
Jeff often said his greatest accomplishment was his two children.
Along with his family, Jeff ventured across world. Together they went to Angkor Wat in Cambodia and the Louvre in Paris; Cape Cod and London; and climbed mountains in the Swiss Alps and Yosemite National Park.
Jeff’s father, Lawrence McMillan, was a Sears store manager who frequently moved, and as such, Jeff lived in many different towns throughout the south as a child. He attended college at Duke University on a National Merit Scholarship and architecture school at Florida A&M University.
As an architect, Jeff worked for the acclaimed Orlando architectural firm HHCP, building health care facilities from Florida to Yakima, Wash. He spent most of his life in Florida, only moving to New England in 2012 to be close to his children.
Jeff will have his ashes scattered on St. George Island in Florida at the family beach house, which was the first building he ever designed. Some will also be scattered in North Carolina, whose barbecue and mountains nourished his soul.
In addition to his wife and children, Jeff is survived by his mother Mary Crane McMillan, 94; his brother Dan McMillan; his sisters Tish Alspach and Annie Leach; and eight nieces and nephews.
An open house Sunday from 2-4 p.m. to celebrate Jeff's life will be at Yvonne's home at 74 Ballpark Drive in Portland, ME.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Hospice of Southern Maine, which provided incredible care to Jeff in his final days. You can donate at www.hospiceofsouthernmaine.org or by mailing a donation to Hospice of Southern Maine, 180 US Route 1, Scarborough ME 04074.