Joseph Milligan Jr.

Obituary of Joseph Edward Milligan Jr.

On May 27, 2024, Joseph Edward Milligan Jr. of Keller, Texas passed away near his home, family at his side. His loving wife of more than 60 years, Betsy, preceded him in death in September 2021. 

Rosary at 2:00 p.m. with visitation until 4:00 p.m. and a Vigil Service at 6:00 p.m. with visitaiton until 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 4, 2024 at Thompson's Harveson & Cole.

Mass of Christian Burial: 11a.m. Wednesday, June 5, 2024 at Holy Family Catholic Church.  Interment: Oakwood Cemetery, Fort Worth. 

Known simply as “Joe,” “Deacon Joe,” “Dad,” or “PapPap,” he was born December 15, 1938, in Glassport, PA, to Joseph and Sara (Trbojevic) Milligan Sr. He graduated from St. Peter’s in McKeesport, PA in 1956 and attended Duquesne University. He married Elizabeth “Betsy” Schweiger on January 30, 1960, in Pittsburgh, PA and was ordained a Deacon for the Diocese of Fort Worth on August 19, 1989.

After high school, Joe very briefly attended the University of Notre Dame Seminary to discern a call to the priesthood.  Having met Betsy at a dance that summer and learning that she could really bake, Joe discerned he was more properly suited to serve God as a married man!  They were blessed with four children, 14 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren, so far. To provide for his family, Joe moved them between Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, New Jersey, and Illinois before moving to Bedford, Texas in 1979 and building a home in 1995 with Betsy in Keller.  He worked briefly in various sales and insurance positions, before spending 20 years in business as a buyer and merchandiser with several retail companies: (the old) Spencer Gifts, Helen Gallagher Gifts, Pier One Imports, and the Love Shops.  He later worked with various inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities helping others seeking assistance in finding addiction recovery programs.

Joe strived to live out and kindle in others a deep and abiding faith.  Joe and Betsy actively served in their parishes and local communities.  While Joe would lector and cantor at church, what energized him was an intense prayer life, seeking to live every day in service to God and others.  He had his children accompany him to serve others at the Atlantic City Rescue Mission.  In recent years, he would frequently send his adult children to deliver “a few things” to the Keller Community Storefront Food Pantry.  He sought to help others grow in holiness participating as a leader in Cursillo and Marriage Encounter, Teens Encounter Christ (TEC) and “Happenings.”  Even his struggles to overcome alcohol addiction helped to greatly deepen his faith and compassion for others.  He served as an inspiration for others to seek help through Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and CALIX.  Joe and Betsy were longtime members of Holy Family Catholic Church in Fort Worth. After Betsy’s death, Joe joined and was committed to helping build the newly formed parish of St. Teresa of Calcutta in Roanoke.

Always a man of service, Joe, in the early 1980s, began to discern a call to serve God and others more deeply as a permanent Deacon in the Catholic Church.  So, in 1985, Joe, with Betsy’s full support, began his formation in the Diaconate.  Along with 12 other men, he was a member of the first class of permanent deacons in the Diocese of Fort Worth.  After ordination, he served at Holy Family from 1989-2011.  Between 1995-2003, he served as the diocesan director of deacons, helping in the formation of men called to the diaconate.  Deacon Joe preached and lived the Gospel; administered the sacraments of Baptism and Marriage; and cared for the sick and those in prison. 

In addition to Betsy, Joe was preceded in death by his parents as well as several beloved nieces & nephews, cousins, and brothers-in-law.

He is survived by children, Joseph E. Milligan III (Linda); Louise M. Trotter (Chris), Kristen M. Wood (Randy), Maria M. Spoolstra (Scott); grandchildren, Sean Michael, Luke, Cassidy and Leah Milligan, Colleen (Phillip Dyson), David, Matthew (Lana) and Patrick Trotter; Riley, Spencer (Katy), Connor and Brady Wood; Jason (Rebecca), Charles (Samantha) Spoolstra; great grandchildren, Clare, Catherine, Elizabeth, Gregory Joseph, Eleanor, and Margo Spoolstra; Henry and Emma Dyson; sisters and brother & sisters-in-law:  Judith Milligan, Mary Louise Valecko, Sarah Milligan, James J. Schweiger (Dorothy), George Ann Paladino, Karin Maniet (Lou), and Cathy Schweiger; numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins; and many, many close friends.

An additional article in the North Texas Catholic may be accessed at this link:    North Texas Catholic