Millie Hadwin (2017)

April 01, 2020 12:41 PM | Anonymous member

Oct. 21, 1923 - July 29, 2017

On July 29, 2017 the Michigan museum community lost a shining star in Millie Hadwin. To read more about her remarkable life and the role she played in Michigan's museums, please read her 
obituary. The Michigan Museums Association would like to express their condolences to her family and friends and appreciation for her service to the field. 

Below is a personal reflection on the impact her mentorship had on Phillip Kwiatkowski, retired director, Michigan Historical Museum.  

When word reached me that Millie had passed away I realized that one of my mentors is now gone.  She, as many people have said, was a great inspiration to the museum field and the Michigan Museums Association.   Because of the that I contacted the MMA office to ask that her accomplishments be highlighted in one of the future issues of the newsletter.  When Lisa asked me to write about Millie, I was honored but I quickly realized that there are many people that knew and worked with her longer than I that could write about her. After thinking about it I thought it would be fitting to remember how she affected me as a young professional.

I met Millie when I was a graduate student at Central Michigan University. I think she was at the CMU museum attending a MMA meeting. Attending were the Directors of the museums from around the state. I was in awe and a bit afraid of the “big shots” attending but very pleasantly surprised how they welcomed a young student in their midst, when I was introduced.   Millie was gracious and told me several times that if I ever needed advice or just wanted to talk to contact her. Little did I realize then how often I’d be calling.  

Sometime later, at a MMA meeting, I saw her again. To my surprise, she remembered meeting me.  I was impressed. She welcomed my questions, and introduced me to her husband, Bernie. What a great couple they were. 

Millie and I spent many hours discussing museum issues. Even when I left the state, I would track her down at regional or national meetings for advice. She was a wealth of information from dealing with difficult board members, curatorial issues, fund raising and community programming. When I was going through the accreditation process at the Sloan Museum I leaned on her to discuss the process.  

She always had time for this young director bugging her. I will never forget that. And I’m probably one of many young museum professionals that she impacted.  

Over the years, I realized how much I appreciated her willingness to share her knowledge. Information I’m sure I used every day in one way or another. She was an inspiration to me and to others. 

I remember her smile, her candor and her intensity when grappling museum issues. She was a very stable voice when MMA was struggling with issues.  

Submitted by Phillip Kwiatkowski, retired director, Michigan Historical Museum


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