South Florida FLEET WEEK Leader Dies

Joe Millsaps, of Fleet Week and Orange Bowl Committee, dies at 70


Joe Millsaps (pictured), one of South Florida's biggest champions of the U.S. Navy, died while on a trip to watch the Indianapolis 500. He was 70.

A long-time Fort Lauderdale resident, Millsaps is most closely associated with Broward Navy Days, which organized the annual Fleet Week celebration that brings sailors and naval ships to Fort Lauderdale every spring. He helped found Broward Navy Days and served as president and chairman of the board.

After attending Sunday's Indy 500 race, he suffered a heart attack while he and a friend were on a golf cart being taken to their car, said his daughter, April Halleran.
Friends spent much of Memorial Day mourning his death.

``It's a tremendous loss to this community,'' Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler said. ``He gave so much of his time, so much of his energy, so much of talents. He just kept giving back to the community and made South Florida a better place.''

In addition to his work with Navy Days, Millsaps worked with the Winterfest boat parade and the Orange Bowl Committee. Professionally, he was a founding partner of the commercial real estate firm Rauch, Weaver, Millsaps & Co., now known as Rauch Weaver Norfleet Kurtz and Co. He stepped down as a partner in 1999 and devoted more time to Broward Navy Days.

A funeral service is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Calvary Chapel, 2401 W. Cypress Creek Rd., Fort Lauderdale. A reception will follow.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/05/31/1657516/joe-millsaps-of-fleet-week-and.html#ixzz0pnUnuJpZ

Joseph R. Millsaps | Civic dynamo known as `Mr. Fort Lauderdale'

Joseph Millsaps, known as Mr. Fort Lauderdale for all his civic involvement, died of a heart attack while leaving the Indy 500.


``Mr. Fort Lauderdale'' was no Average Joe.
Joseph R. Millsaps, who got his nickname from his huge involvement in the community, was best known for founding Navy Days, which led to the Air and Sea Show, and helped plan Fleet Week and the Winterfest Boat Parade.

Millsaps had been attending the Indianapolis 500 Sunday and was riding in a golf cart back to his vehicle when he began experiencing chest pains. He was taken to an Indianapolis hospital, where he died of a heart attack. Millsaps was 70.

``I know a lot of people with big hearts, but there is no one I know who has a bigger heart than Joe,'' said Chuck Malkus, who served on three boards with Millsaps. ``You really had to see the gleam of his eyes when he volunteered to know the size of his heart.''

A native of Clinton, Tenn., Millsaps fell in love with Fort Lauderdale on a spring break trip while he was attending the University of Tennessee. After spending some time in the U.S. Army, he made Fort Lauderdale his new home.

Although he achieved professional success as a founder of the real estate firm Rauch, Weaver, Millsaps and Co., he was better known for his involvement as a volunteer in organizations throughout South Florida.

His titles included chairman of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, chairman of Winterfest, member of the Orange Bowl Committee and president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Association of Realtors. He retired from real estate in 1999 but continued his volunteer service until his death.

``He was a significant force in more than a dozen organizations,'' Malkus said. ``He set an example for many others of how to volunteer and be involved in Broward County. He was always asking `How can we get things done?' Joe would get it done.''

A former first lieutenant in the U.S. Army, Millsaps was most recognized for his work as chairman for Broward Navy Days. He helped start the organization in 1990 and coordinated events such as Fleet Week and an adopt-a-ship program with local elementary schools.

``He wanted every serviceman and woman in the country to know their service was appreciated, and he recognized them in any way he could,'' Malkus said.

He was awarded Distinguished Public Service awards from both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Despite his many titles, Millsaps remained humble. April Halleran, Millsaps' youngest daughter, said the most important thing she learned from her father was to ``never put yourself at the front of the table. If you're in a good position, it's because you're asked to be there.''

``By the time you're 70, everybody will know if you're a fake. But he wasn't. He was the real deal,'' Halleran said. ``Everything he received, he gave right back, whether it was a plaque or Marlins tickets.''

According to his daughter, Millsaps was once on the cover of Time Magazine -- but not for his civic involvement with Fort Lauderdale.

On Aug. 27, 1956, Millsaps helped escort the 12 black students into his alma mater, Clinton High School, making it the first school in the South to be desegregated.

Millsaps' generosity was not limited to his civic career. Halleran recalled being with her dad at her grandmother's Tamarac home during Hurricane Andrew.

She was a teenager at the time and was terrified of the storm. ``He literally held my hand all night long. He didn't let go for eight hours. I woke up and he was still holding my hand,'' she said. ``The same selfless example he was in the community, he was as a father.''

Millsaps has three other daughters, Cheryl Azrin, Debra LaCruz and Mary Kennedy, all of Birmingham, Ala., and eight grandchildren. He is survived by three brothers, Kenneth, Harry and Frank, sister Dana Davis and his longtime companion, Bunnie Willis.

Millsaps enjoyed spending time with his family and ``all things manly,'' according to Halleran. He loved the military, sports, everything related to South Florida and, of course, volunteering.
``He was one of the most enthusiastic and positive volunteers the state of Florida will ever know. He didn't just go the extra mile, he went the extra 10 miles,'' Malkus said. ``He's not just Mr. Fort Lauderdale. He probably should be known as Mr. Florida.''

Millsaps' funeral service will be at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, 2401 W. Cypress Creek Rd. Instead of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Broward Navy Days, in care of Garry Murphy, 5300 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/06/02/1658903/deaths-joseph-r-millsaps-70-civic.html#ixzz0pnV2TGjE