The high school coach of two of the best athletes ever to grace a football field in Tacoma passed away over the weekend.
Former Lincoln High football coach Bill Milus died after a long battle with multiple myeloma cancer on Sunday.
Milus was 73 years old.
Milus coached both Lawyer Milloy and Jon Kitna at the south Tacoma high school during the 1990s. Both players had lengthy, productive careers in the National Football League.
Kitna recently returned to fill the same role his mentor Milus resided over years ago as head football coach for the Abes.
Milus finished 41-38 in nine years of coaching at Lincoln High.
Helen Milus, wife of Bill, said he had a chance to talk to Kitna about taking the job before slipping into a coma recently.
“He found about Jon being the head coach at Lincoln and he was so pleased,” Helen Milus said. “He was just a dedicated coach, and always said that the players felt like his own sons.”
Milus worked for 23 years in the Tacoma school district as a teacher at Stewart Jr. High and Lincoln High, and as an assistant principal at Mt. Tahoma and Wilson high.
But his true love was coaching, starting at Eastside Boys and Girls Club and eventually working his way up to the head coaching job at Lincoln.
His oldest son Ron Milus played defensive back at the University of Washington, and currently serves as the secondary coach for the Denver Broncos.
“He influenced a lot of people,” Ron Milus said about his father. “A lot of guys looked up to him and how he carried himself as a coach and as a man. And I think that people respected that.
“I tell people all the time, I always wanted to make sure that I grew up to be like my dad. I never wanted to disappoint him, and that’s me and my brother Terry. I’m probably proud of what his accomplishments are more than anything I’ve ever done, because he helped a lot of people.”
Milloy said Milus served as a guiding influence in his high school days.
“In a lot of ways Coach Milus was my father figure, even without saying it or knowing it,” Milloy said. “He was the one male figure in my life at a crucial point of my life that I had to look up to.
“Not only was he a good coach, but he was a good teacher. He was just a kind, soft-spoken man that got his message across without yelling. And that’s the ultimate respect – when you can grasp a hold of a room or an individual just by your presence.”
Milloy said Milus was a steadying influence for kids at Lincoln during the peak of gang violence in Tacoma in the 1990s.
“We had a lot of guys doing negative stuff,” Milloy said. “But he taught us a different way and led us in a different direction.”
Milloy was one of several family members and friends who had an opportunity to say their final goodbyes to Milus, who had been in the hospital since Jan. 17. Milus had been dealing with cancer since he retired from the Tacoma School district in 2003.
Milus also is the uncle of Dallas Mavericks guard and Seattle native Jason Terry.
“I’m glad I got to see him one last time,” Milloy said. “Lying there on the bed he looked good. He looked peaceful. His hands and his body felt warm. I have no doubt where he’s going.”
Milus is survived by wife Helen, sons Ron and Terry and step-daughter Victoria. A memorial service will be held for Milus in Lincoln High’s gymnasium at 2 p.m., Saturday.