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 Ralph Gordon “Doc” Millstead

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Ralph Gordon “Doc” Millstead

  • Birth 6 Jan 1925 Philip, Haakon County, South Dakota, USA
  • Death 6 Jan 2008 Philip, Haakon County, South Dakota, USA
  • Burial Philip, Haakon County, South Dakota, USA
  • Memorial ID 23927869

Ralph G. "Doc" Millstead, age 83 of Philip, SD, formerly of Laguna Woods, CA , died January 6, 2008, at the Hans P. Peterson Memorial Hospital in Philip.

Ralph Gordon "Doc" Millstead was born on January 6, 1925, in Philip and died on January 6, 2008, on his 83rd birthday, in Philip.

As a small child in Philip, he was known as "Gordon" but acquired the nickname "Doc" in grade school when he helped the football coach tape up the ankles of team members. The team started calling him "Little Doc" because of his taping skills and eventually the name got shortened to Doc, a nickname he used for the rest of his life.

He attended grade school and high school in Philip, graduating from Philip High School in 1942. He has been remembered in his high school years as a good football player, basketball player and champion debater. Old friends also remember him even in grade school as quite a promoter, enlisting his friends to do "the dirty work" in his schemes. But because of his personality, they cheerfully followed him anywhere.

After one year of college in Brookings, Doc enlisted in the Marines in 1943, serving all over the world. He was proud of his service and always honored those who served their country. He was discharged in 1946.

After seeing a picture of a Midwest Basketball Beauty Queen, he began a mail correspondence with Mary Fitzwater in 1944. They corresponded for a couple of years, finally meeting in person in early 1946. Mary often recalled how she took a friend with her to initially meet Doc, but upon meeting him in person, quickly ditched the friend. They married a few months later on June 21, 1946, in Rapid City and spent their first married year in Philip. They were married for 60 years until Mary's death on March 11, 2007.

Using his early skills as a promoter, his intelligence, and his great work ethic, he eventually became a very successful businessman in the insurance business. He owned Millstead Insurance in Scottsdale, AZ, for over 20 years and served as President of the Arizona Insurance Association. Later he was honored as Arizona Insurance Man of the Year, and his name is now enshrined in the Arizona Insurance Hall of Fame. There are four major insurance awards that can be won in Arizona and he is the only man to have won all four.

Doc and Mary raised their two children, Marsha and Mike primarily in Scottsdale, AZ. After his retirement, they stayed in Arizona for the winters and Oceanside, CA, in the summers. About 10 years ago, they settled in Laguna Woods, CA, to be closer to Marsha and the grandchildren. After Mary's death, Doc settled permanently in Philip.

Several years ago, Doc and Mary donated a considerable sum of money in the memory of his parents, R.V. and Arbeula Millstead and his sister, Phyllis Engelson, for the renovation of the Philip Nursing Home. Also upon his return to Philip this year, he donated money to six different non-profits: Philip Health Services, the Masonic Cemetery, the Volunteer Fire Department, the Senior Center, Philip High School and the Kadoka Nursing Home. He loved his hometown and wanted to support it in any way he could.

Doc was preceeded in death by his parents, R.V. and Arbeula Millstead; his sister, Phyllis Engelson; his half-brother, Charles Millstead; and his beloved wife Mary Millstead.

He is survived by his children, Marsha Millstead Willis of Irvine, CA, his son, Michael Hayden Millstead; his grandchildren, Jeremy, Sarah, Sam and Katie; and two great-grandchildren, Kyler and Dominic. He is also survived by his son-in-law, David Willis, and his niece and nephew, Linda and Merle Stilwell of Kadoka.

Doc also leaves behind many dear friends who will remember him for his quick wit, his humor and his generosity of spirit. He valued his friendships greatly and was very grateful in these last few months of his life to the people of Philip who showed him so much support and love.

Graveside services will be Saturday, January 12, at the Masonic Cemetery in Philip, with Pastor Mark Ford officiating.

Arrangements are with the Rush Funeral Home of Philip.

Written tributes may be made at

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  • Created by: In memory of Scott
  • Added: 12 Jan 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 23927869
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Ralph Gordon “Doc” Millstead (6 Jan 1925–6 Jan 2008), Find A Grave Memorial no. 23927869, citing Masonic Cemetery, Philip, Haakon County, South Dakota, USA ; Maintained by In memory of Scott (contributor 46776086) .