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Roger Milliken

Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Death: December 30, 2010 (95)
Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Gerrish Hill Milliken and Agnes Malcolm Milliken
Husband of Justine Van Rensslaer Milliken
Father of Private; Roger Milliken, Jr.; Private; Private and Private
Brother of Ann Milliken Franchetti; Private and Private

Managed by: Laura Lawson Ellis
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Roger Milliken

Located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Milliken & Company is a major textile and chemical manufacturer, a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient, and home to the world’s largest textile research facility.

Born in New York and educated at Groton School and Yale, Roger Milliken has served as Chairman and CEO of this company. He was the first inductee to the American Textile Hall of Fame and was named Textile Leader of the Century. Known for his business foresight and vision he is also a passionate supporter of horticulture and the planting of noble trees. Milliken holds twelve honorary degrees and has been a generous benefactor to South Carolina.

Roger Milliken (October 24, 1915 – December 30, 2010) was an American textile heir, industrialist, businessman, and political activist. He served as President and then CEO of his family's company, Milliken & Company, from 1947 until 2005. He continued to serve as Chairman of the Board until his death in 2010. Milliken is known as a political godfather to the American conservative movement.

Company background

Deering Milliken Company was co-founded by Roger's grandfather, Seth Milliken, and William Deering in 1865. The small woolens fabric company was initially based in Portland, Maine, but moved to New York City in 1868 after William Deering left Deering Milliken to start the Deering Harvester company (which is today known as Navistar International). In 1884, Deering Milliken Company invested in its first property near Spartanburg, South Carolina, where the company's headquarters have been based since 1958. In 1976, Deering Milliken officially became Milliken & Company.

Personal life

Milliken was born October 24, 1915, in New York City, the eldest son of Gerrish and Agnes (née Gayley) Milliken. Roger's grandfather was Seth Milliken, co-founder of what is today known as Milliken & Company. He attended Yale University, where he studied French history and graduated in 1937. After graduation, he started out in New York City’s Mercantile Stores, in which his family had an ownership stake.

In 1941, he was given the stewardship of three small woolen-producing mills in Maine. When his father, Gerrish, died in 1947, the 32-year-old Milliken succeeded him as president.


Milliken met his future wife, Justine van Rensselaer Hooper, at a dinner party. They married in 1948 and had five children.


The Milliken family was active in the community, Roger serving on the board of Wofford College and Justine on the board of Converse College. Milliken also served on other corporate and nonprofit boards, including Arthur D. Little, Westinghouse, Citicorp, Mercantile, W.R. Grace, Institute of Textile Technology, Heritage Foundation, the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport Commission, and the Spartanburg Day School.


He was president of Milliken & Company until 1983, when he became chairman and CEO. He relinquished the CEO title in 2005, and remained chairman until his death. Starting in the 1950s, Milliken helped build the South Carolina Republican Party, which had been in the minority for decades. Milliken helped convince South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond to switch to the Republican Party.

Milliken raised the money for the "Senator Thurmond Speaks for Nixon-Agnew" commercials that formed part of Nixon's Southern Strategy of attracting white Southerners to the Republican Party in the 1968 Presidential election. He was a notable donor to conservative causes. He supported National Review, the John Birch Society, Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, and Pat Buchanan, among others.

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Roger Milliken's Timeline

October 24, 1915
New York, New York, United States
December 30, 2010
Age 95
Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States