President and Proprietor of TOTE Passes Away

Friday, October 25, 2002
Robert B. "Bob" McMillen, born July 10, 1935, died October 12, 2002 at his home in Bellevue, Washington, following an extended illness. His family and friends celebrated his life on October 24, 2002 at the First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue, Washington, with the Reverend Danna VanHorn officiating. Special remembrances of Bob's life were offered by colleagues Mike Garvey and Stan Barer, and his best friend, Seattle Seahawks Coach Emeritus, Chuck Knox. "There were three very distinct things that marked Bob's life," said Mike Garvey, who, along with Bob and other businessmen, purchased Totem Ocean Trailer Express 20 years ago in October, becoming Totem Resources Corporation, then SaltChuk Resources. "First, he was totally committed to the business," referring to Bob's 17 years as TOTE's president until 1993 and executive of TOTE's holding company until his death. Continued Garvey, "He was always good for his word, and he expected the same of you. And lastly, Bob respected people." "Bob understood that you only succeed by working with other people," said Stan Barer, another 20-year owner of TOTE. "He was an eloquent man; maybe not in speeches and such, but if you watched what he did, you didn't care what he said." Coach Knox shared how his former players would always ask about Bob when he began experiencing health problems. They would call and say, "How's your man?" To which he would retort, "He's not my man, he's my MAIN man!" Born and raised in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, Bob's first job was in his dad's pharmacy. After graduating from Denison University in Granville, Ohio, in 1957 and a stint in the U. S. Air Force, he spent his entire career in the transportation industry. He worked for Kramer Brothers Freight Lines and Transcon Lines, then moved to the Puget Sound to join Totem Ocean Trailer Express, Inc. in 1977 as the President and CEO of this upstart company. In time Bob became one of the most respected executives in the U. S. maritime industry, forging union relationships and watching TOTE and other SaltChuk subsidiaries become successful. The list of awards to McMillen is lengthy, including Transportation Club of Tacoma's Man of the Year 1985; Puget Sound Maritime Man of the Year 1986; Merle Adlum Labor-Management Maritime Man of the Year 1991, and the 2000 Torchy Award given by the Washington Athletic Club. The honor Bob was most proud of, however, was bestowed upon him in 2001 by the Seafarers International Union when they named a simulator annex building after him at the Paul Hall Center for MaritimeTraining & Education in Piney Point, Maryland, making only the second time in history a building was named after an industry executive. McMillen was generous with his time and money. He served on many boards, including the Seattle Chamber of Commerce Alaska Committee; the University of Washington Foundation; Chairman of the Tyee Board of the University of Washington and Alaska Pacific University, Anchorage, Alaska, just to name a few. He had a warm heart for medical causes, serving on the Board of Directors for Swedish Medical Center Foundation and the Washington State Chapter of the Leukemia Society. Bob is survived by his son, Michael and his wife, Erin, and his beloved granddaughter, Jasmine. He is also survived by a niece, Virginia M. Kerr, and nephew, Howard A. Morrison, and several great nieces and nephews He is also survived by the love of his life, Joan E. Thurman. He was preceded in death by his parents, Walter "Bus" and Maude McMillen, and a sister, Virgina Morrison. Remembrances may be made to the Northwest Kidney Center Foundation, P. O. Box 3035, Seattle, WA 98114, or Harborview Medical Center, McMillen memorial Fund, N. W. Lipid Research Clinic, Box 359950, Seattle, WA 98104.
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