Kristen Grady Milligan ’95

Kristen Grady Milligan ’95 passed away peacefully on Oct. 26, 2012, in her Pisgah Forest, N.C., home surrounded by her beloved family. She was 39. Milligan is preceded in death by her father, J. Michael Grady, and survived by her husband, Deric Milligan, 547 Valeria Dr., Pisgah Forest, NC 28768-9955, and their children, Ashlea, Luke, and Rebecca. She is also survived by her mother, Lynn Grady, and her twin sister, Kim Brock. Milligan, a graduate of Davidson and Florida State University, was an orientation and mobility specialist and guide dog trainer by profession, but her true passions were as a wife and mother of three adored children. Milligan’s legacy of caring for other young families with a terminally ill parent continues through Inheritance of Hope, a nonprofit ministry she established. After retiring from her first career of training guide dogs for the visually impaired and deaf-blind to become a full-time mom, Milligan was diagnosed with a rare liver cancer in stage 4 on March 18, 2003-her 30th birthday. For the next 10 years, Milligan was dedicated to helping families navigate life-threatening illnesses, beginning with her own children. She wrote A Train’s Rust, A Toy Maker’s Love to communicate about illness and death with her then four-year-old daughter, Ashlea, two-year-old son, Luke, and seven-month-old daughter, Rebecca. She wrote another book for children and one for adults about her experiences. Milligan also was a poised speaker, who shared her story with audiences around the United States and internationally. In May 2007, Milligan and her husband, Deric, launched Inheritance of Hope with the vision that “Every Family Deserves a Legacy.” They desired to share their experiences, insights, and resources with many other families dealing with life-threatening illness. So far, Legacy Retreats have impacted ill parents, devoted caregivers, and the children in well over a hundred families. In her writing, speaking, and co-founding of Inheritance of Hope, Milligan’s message was consistently joyful. Throughout her journey with illness-which included six surgeries, 22 months of chemotherapy, and two rounds of radiation-she wanted people to know that she found more joy than harm. Such joy came from a deepening relationship with God and increasing awareness of God’s work in her and around her. Milligan claimed James 1:2 as a favorite verse: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” Milligan’s dying days were marked by a profound peacefulness. She was an inspiration to all who knew her, and she is deeply missed. Her legacy continues, though, in all the lives she has touched and in the work of Inheritance of Hope.