Camera in hand, a little late, as usual, Key Peninsula’s well-known reporter and photographer Hugh McMillan walked into the Civic Center on April 22 to cover what he thought was a Boy Scouts celebration.
Little did he know. It was, in fact, a gathering of about 100 local residents, community leaders, school district staff and politicians to honor him — a gathering that, amazingly, the Key Peninsula kept a secret for months from McMillan.
“Whereas, Hugh McMillan has become a friend to students across the Peninsula School District and achieved a new student sense of pride through his recognition of their talents,” said Jim Coolican, PSD superintendent, and, after reading 10 significant contributions of Hugh McMillan, declared, “Now therefore be it resolved that: Hugh McMillan shall be officially appointed The Peninsula School District ambassador, with heartfelt appreciation from the Peninsula School District No. 401 Board of Directors, students, staff and community.”
With that, the ceremony of tributes to McMillan was underway. Through musical salutes from the KPMS Jazz Band, Peninsula Youth Orchestra and a KPMS girls’ chorus, a stream of notable guests reminisced over memorable stories of McMillan’s influence in their lives and upon the peninsulas where McMillan roams with his camera and tablet ready. The stories revealed contributions of this former CIA agent, who once roamed the world at large, to the Citizens Against Crime, FD-16, PSD and the KP Lions Club.
Councilman Terry Lee added another formal proclamation, the official adoption of April 22, 2006, as Hugh McMillan Day in Pierce County.
There was a bit of roasting including the closing remarks from McMillan’s devoted wife, Janice, the woman behind the man. After expressing gratitude for the recognition for her husband, she let it slip that, “He doesn’t do a thing around the house.”
The recognition was produced by the Boy Scouts of America Pack 220, Troop 220, and Venture Crew 220 under the direction of Scoutmaster Bill Macaras. “I had been thinking about this for a couple of years, so back in November of last year I brought this idea up at a monthly scoutmaster meeting. It took very little discussion because all the scoutmasters and adults at the meeting thought it was way past due for something like this,” said Macaras as he recognized a huge number of supporters and volunteers who joined him in this endeavor.
Just as it was at the celebration, after the compliments, some speakers had one more comment to add.
“Hugh is always late — but he seems to be always late everywhere. He’s the busiest guy I know,” added Irene Torres.
“I have been a constant admirer of his wife’s cookies; his very unusual dogs; and his view of the seals outside of his house,” added Keith Stiles.
“When I grow up I want to be just like Hugh,” added Jeff Harris.
Rep. Derek Kilmer noted how difficult it must have been for Hugh to sit there as the band and orchestra played, the chorus sang, and not take pictures. McMillan, who usually is known to talk a lot, was at a loss for words and handed the microphone to his spouse.