Purvis Due McMillan traveled around the world while serving in the Navy
Published 11:21 am Monday, October 16, 2006
(This week The Atmore Advance spotlights Purvis Due McMillan, who turned 82 this year.)
Q: When and where were you born?
A: I was born in Monroe County in a small town called Drewry.
I was born on Sept. 28, 1924.
Q: Who were your parents?
A: Will McMillan and Mary Sue (Watson) McMillan.
They married in 1923 and remained married until my father died in 1955.
Q: Do you have any brothers or sisters?
A: I have seven brothers and two sisters.
My brothers are, Preston, he's deceased; Johnny; George and Willie, they were twins, but George is deceased; Zachariah; Thawather and Prince Edward McMillan.
My sisters are Novella Johnson and Violena McMillan.
Q: Where did you attend high school and/or college?
A: I went to the Escambia County Training School.
While I was there I joined the Navy in 1943. I was 19 years old. I stayed in the Navy for two years and five months.
When I came back to Atmore I went back to the Escambia County Training School and graduated from there in 1946.
Then I went to the Midwest Institution in Chicago. I studied automechanics and graduated from there in 1952.
Q: How did your family travel when you were younger?
A: We traveled on foot. We didn't have a horse and buggy because my father let the horses rest when he wasn't plowing the fields.
We didn't go much. We went to school and church. We had to walk two miles to school because they didn't have buses.
Q: Do you remember the first vehicle you bought?
A: A 1941 Chevrolet. It cost about $400 or $500.
Q: What jobs have you held?
A: Well, while I was in school, I helped my father on the farm.
Then, during the summers, I would work for C.C. Powell stump removal. I worked with them until I went into the service.
While I was in the service I was a Fireman 1st Class. I was stationed in Great Lakes, Ill., Sampson Training Station, Pier 92 in New York and Treasure Island, Calif.
Then I was stationed overseas. I spent most of my time on Espirito Santo Island. I drove an ambulance there and sometimes planes would crash into the water and I would have to go out there and get the passengers.
By the time I was shipped back to the U.S. the war was over. That was in 1945. I was shipped to San Diego.
Then I got on the troop train headed for New Orleans. It stopped in Texas on the 24th of December for us the celebrate Christmas.
We arrived in New Orleans on the 27th of December and I was discharged on Dec. 29, 1945.
I came back to Atmore and started working for C.C. Powell again and helped my father on the farm.
Then the government came out with a program to train veterans how to farm. They taught it in Atmore and I attended it. After the program I farmed for several years.
From 1954 to 1959, I had a seasonal job as a harvester. I harvested and canned crops like sweet corn, sweet peas, potatoes, and tobacco.
Then I started my own pulp wood and logging business. I had my own trucks and equipment.
I hauled wood to Cantonment, Mobile International Paper, and even shipped it over the water on barges.
I retired from the logging business in 1986.
I always did mechanic work, though. That was my profession. I worked at the Freemanville garage as a mechanic for a while. I still work as a mechanic every now and then.
Q: Did you ever marry?
A: Yes and her name is Mary Louise (Parker) McMillan. We were married on July 6, 1947 and we just celebrated 59 years.
Q: How did you meet?
A: Well, the train used to run from Frisco City through McCullough and Poarch and then to Atmore.
One Saturday, when we were heading home, my cousin asked me what way I was going and I said which ever way the women were going and that was the direction that Mary was going.
I talked to her all the way to her house and asked her if I could see her tomorrow. She said, "If you come to church tomorrow." I went and from that day on we were dating.
Q: Do you have any children or grandchildren?
A: We have five children, Willie McMillan; Purvis McMillan Jr., he's deceased; Fayetta Kendrix; Jerry McMillan and Valerie Jones.
I have 15 grandchildren, but two are deceased, 14 great grandchildren, and 3 great-great grandchildren.
Q: Where do you attend church?
A: I attend the Faith Pentecostal Church. I was the pastor there for 15 years. I am also the Overseer Bishop of Faith Pentecostal Church plus two other churches.
Q: What keeps you busy these days?
A: Going to church. It seems the older I get the more need to go.
Mowing my lawn and the church's lawn, traveling, carpentry work around the church and mechanics.
Q: Have you traveled much?
A: Oh yeah, when I was in the Navy I traveled a lot. And when I was harvesting.
Most of my traveling was done when I was hauling wood to the mills. I also hauled gravel a little.
I love to travel on vacation, too. I've been to Orlando, Fla., California, Chicago, Texas, Michigan, Detroit, Birmingham, New Orleans, and Louisiana.
Q: What is your favorite television show?
A: I like to watch westerns, detective shows, and any kind of ball game; basketball, baseball, football, golf, tennis, etc.
Q: What advice can you give on staying healthy?
A: Eat right and be sure to get God in your life. My medication is herbs. In the scriptors, God's remedies are herbs so I stick with my herbs, like herbal tea. Also, read your Bible, say your prayers, and repent everyday.
I have two "mottos" that I believe in. "Talk to each other and quit talking about one another" and "You might not love me, but I'm gonna love you."
(If you would like to recommend a senior to be spotlighted please contact Stacie Cofield at 368-2123 or e-mail her at composing@atmoreadvance. com.)