Retired teacher keeps making his mark
By Kaitlyn Von Behren, Current Staff
The left brain and right brain merge seamlessly to create Bill Millonig, former East math teacher and current artist.
In August, a painting by Millonig was chosen as the winning trout stamp for 2017. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources holds yearly contests for the stamps, which residents must purchase to hunt or fish the particular species.
Millonig has designed nine total stamps, including four trout, two turkey, and one each for pheasant, salmon, and duck.
Now retired from teaching, Millonig cannot remember a time in his life without drawing and painting.
His mother nurtured this love for art. She took the time to learn about and create art even during the Great Depression.
“She was very artistic and got me started at a young age. I was very lucky to have that,” he said.
Millonig’s father, a hunter and fisherman, also had an influence on Millonig’s art.
“Hunting and fishing with my dad was a real treat,” Millonig said. “That combination of hunting and fishing and then having that artistic background is pretty evident in the kinds of things that I like to paint and draw. The majority of my work is landscapes and wildlife.”
For Millonig, practice, patience, and persistence (the Three P’s) are the key to improving as an artist.
“You have to have a desire to be an artist. You have to have a passion and if you don’t have the passion, well then you’re not going to be successful,” he said. “And of course it takes lots of practice. No one is an excellent artist right from the get-go. There is no shortage of artists in the world. So, you need to be persistent. If you practice enough and you have the passion you will improve.”
Millonig taught at West Bend East High School for 27 years, from 1980 to 2007. Over the course of his career, he taught general math, math score, algebra, geometry, advanced algebra, statistics, and biology.
“I enjoyed being a teacher and during my summers I would paint and then do art shows,” he said.
When Millonig retired after 33 total years of teaching, he donated two art pieces to the teachers’ lounge. Then Mary Skalecki, East principal at that time, dedicated the lounge to him. There’s still a plate above the door declaring it the Millonig Lounge.
“He was a very professional math teacher,” said Todd Brahm, current East math teacher. “Very professional, consistent, fair, and also a prankster that nobody knew.”
Brahm recalled how Millonig liked hiding things on people and photo-shopping somebody’s head on the figure and then putting the sign up on the wall. But Millonig’s pranks did not come without friendly backlash.
Retired East math teacher Roberta Fackelman brought water guns to school one day after leaving sticky notes on his window with phrases like “An eye for an eye” and “Vengeance shall be mine.”
“Mrs. Fackelman and I went down into the faculty restroom and we filled the Super Soakers,” said Christine Breuer, current East math teacher. “He knew something was coming so he had locked his door that day, but because we all have keys to the math rooms we were able to go in right at the end of his eighth hour class. We went into his room with the Super Soakers and just blasted him. He had a good sense of humor. The kids all got a kick out of it and it was a fun way to end the day.”
“[Millonig is a] very intelligent man. He had a great heart, very thoughtful person, very calm person, but he had this sense of humor that really made working with him enjoyable,” Breuer said.
(Top image: Bill Millonig’s trout painting earned recognition by the Wisconsin DNR. Other photographs by Hannah Bensen, Editor in Chief.)