By Gary Lloyd
When Ralph Mitchell’s father died about 48 years ago, a neighbor stepped up.
The neighbor taught Mitchell, then 12 years old, how to water ski, how to track a deer while hunting, how to shoot and carefully take care of his gun, how to skin a rabbit and squirrel.
The neighbor was Ken Millar, 81, who was shot and killed in his Rockridge Avenue home in Trussville last Thursday. Freddie Earl Patton, 53, is charged with murder.
“Ken kind of stepped in as a surrogate father,” Mitchell said Friday.
Millar encouraged Mitchell to join the National Guard, which he’s now retired from.
“He was just a real positive influence on me as far as encouraging me to do things,” Mitchell said. “He took me under his wing.”
An avid rabbit hunter, Millar convinced Mitchell’s mother to allow him to buy a 16-gauge single-shot shotgun at Western Auto in Trussville. Millar bought Mitchell’s hunting license and ammunition, purchased his lunch each time they went hunting.
“He took care of everything,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said Millar, raised in Pinson and a retired mechanic from Alagasco, had a “good heart” and was “very caring.” He said Millar was very active at First Baptist Church Trussville’s ministries and choir. He taught Sunday school for 45 years.
“He was awesome, the kindest, sweetest soul,” said Susan Millar, Millar’s daughter-in-law.
She remembers that her father-in-law, a dedicated Alabama football fan, tended to a vegetable garden in the Cahaba Project area of Trussville. She said Millar used to take fresh vegetables to a lady who lived nearby, placing them in a basket and setting it on her front porch while she was at work.
“He’d give you the shirt off his back if he could,” she said.
First Baptist Church Trussville’s minister of music and worship, Joe Estes, emailed the choir after news spread of Millar’s death Thursday night.
In part, the email read, “Ken loved his family and his Savior and served HIM faithfully. There’s no doubt that tonight he looked into the face of Jesus and heard the words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’”
Contact Gary Lloyd at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.