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Obituaries » Robert Thomas Milligan Jr.

Robert Thomas Milligan Jr.

January 11, 2017


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MILLIGAN, Jr., Robert Thomas (Tom) Tom (February 9, 1951 – January 11, 2017) was a man of great conviction, integrity and heart. He was a devoted family man, talented winemaker and cook who had great passion for life. He loved people; his smile, laugh and stories would light up any room. When Tom entered a conversation, it was sure to get louder and livelier. Tom loved nature, gardening on his lovely property at home, hiking, and connecting with friends and family – often at Yosemite or the Sierras. The eldest of four siblings, Tom was a native Californian raised in Orinda, CA. He had lived in Sonoma County since 1974. During college, Tom worked summers as a HotShot firefighter across the US and with the US Dept of Fish & Game in Alaska. After graduating from Sonoma State University (1977), he entered the wine industry. Tom and Karen (Green) were married in 1983 and celebrated their 33rd anniversary last June. They have three grown sons, Jesse, Aaron and Gabriel, and grandson, Jasper. They were his greatest joys. Tom supported many causes in Berkeley and surrounding areas in the 1960s, stoking a lifelong commitment to helping others and preserving nature, especially wild and scenic rivers. He was an ardent voice for social justice and environment; “A bold light of consciousness,” stated brother, Stephen. Tom had an amazing encyclopedic memory and spoke with authority on almost any topic, yet like his father, the late Dr. Robert Thomas, Sr., was self-deprecating and didn’t need accolades. He was genuinely interested in hearing other opinions, and was a critical thinker who made up his own mind on issues. Tom loved all kinds of music, a passion readily shared with his brothers and sons, “He wasn’t just a passive listener of music,” said son, Aaron. Tom had an exquisite palate and prepared an annual Thanksgiving feast along with his wife, Karen. In the wine industry, Tom worked his way from the bottom up at La Crema (1990), Kendall Jackson and Hartford Court before becoming head winemaker at Fieldstone Winery (1997). He was respected for innovative wine-making and an incomparable work ethic. Friend and winemaker, Dan Goldfield, shared, “No one worked harder or longer than Tom.” Tom produced noteworthy Pinot Noir and Petit Sirah among other varietals at Fieldstone. Tom was diagnosed with advanced cancer in July, 2016. As he faced the tough road ahead, he focused on what really mattered; Love, family, and friends. It brought him peace. Typical of his curiosity and courage, Tom refused mind-dulling medicines so that he could lucidly experience the transition from life to death when he died. Tom was at home in Sebastopol when he died peacefully – surrounded personally by Karen, Aaron, and a dear friend, Michael – and in spirit by his large community of family and friends. Tom is survived by his wife, Karen Milligan-Green; sons, Jesse, Aaron, and Gabriel Milligan-Green; mother, Jeanne Conradi Milligan; brothers, Stephen and Morgan Milligan (Karen); sister, Janet Milligan Shalinsky (David); grandson, Jasper; nieces, Emily, Claire, Allie, and Hannah; nephew, Zachary; and many other family members. Tom’s life will be celebrated April 30, 2017 at a memorial service in Sebastopol. Donations may be made in his memory to the charity of your choice.