By Jason Mullins
Monday’s unexpected death of former Milligan President Donald R. Jeanes has left many in the community expressing shock and sadness.
Jeanes, who served from 1997 until 2011 as the 14th president and chancellor of Milligan College, is being remembered for his commitment and lengthy service to the school and to the community.
Jeanes died early Monday, according to Milligan College officials.
Current Milligan President William Greer succeeded Jeanes as the school’s president last July. Greer said that he learned of the news during a fundraising trip to the Midwest for the college. “It’s been a shock to hear about Don’s passing. He served Milligan College his entire life. That dedication prepared him to become president some 15 years ago. He brought a tremendous passion and a love for Milligan College that will truly be missed,” Greer said. Greer added that he is truly grateful and appreciative for the support Jeanes provided to him over the last year as he took over the reins of the college’s leadership. “He gave me a great example of leadership to follow. He was a true mentor and a friend for me,” he noted.
Earlier this spring, Milligan College held a special ceremony to honor Jeanes and his wife, Clarinda, for their service to the school. A granite fountain was unveiled bearing the couple’s name during the April 27 event at Milligan.
Milligan College conducted a special prayer service for faculty, administrators, students and the community to honor Jeanes and his unexpected passing. Greer, who said he was unable to attend the event, said hundreds attended the service to pay their respects to the Milligan alumnus, faculty member and president.
Jeanes’ impact on the community went far beyond the Milligan campus. Carter County Tomorrow President Tom Anderson spoke to the Elizabethton STAR prior to a meeting at Sycamore Shoals Hospital Monday evening. “President Jeanes was one of the most unpretentious people you could ever meet. He had the ability to make everyone feel comfortable around him. At the same time, however, he was able to be a leader. He represented Milligan College and Carter County with great distinction,” Anderson said.
Jeanes was heavily involved in numerous civic organizations and served on the boards of numerous businesses and charitable groups. An ordained minister in the Christian Church, Jeanes served as a volunteer chaplain with Mountain States Health Alliance’s Johnson City Medical Center and was a member of the MSHA board of directors.
“Don was not only an outstanding leader in our region, but he was also a treasured friend,” said MSHA President and CEO Dennis Vonderfecht. “For many years, he has been a pillar of the community and a pillar within Mountain States Health Alliance.”
Vonderfecht commented that Jeanes was heavily involved in the 1998 formation of Mountain States Health Alliance. He added that the former Milligan president also continued to provide his leadership to the health care organization over the last 15 years. Jeanes was recently selected to begin his second term as the MSHA board of directors chairman.
Milligan College has announced it will hold a special memorial service Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Seeger Chapel on the Milligan campus.
Visitation will be 1:00–3:00 pm and 6:00–8:00 pm on Thursday, August 30 at First Christian Church, Johnson City.
A celebration of life service is scheduled for Friday, August 31 in Seeger Memorial Chapel at 1:00 p.m.
MILLIGAN COLLEGE is a Christian liberal arts college in Northeast Tennessee whose vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The college offers more than 100 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in a variety of fields, along with graduate and adult degree completion programs. To learn more about Milligan College, visit www.milligan.edu or call 800-447-5922.