Goodbye Dear Friend -- Milford Anholm (1923-2017)

Our dear friend and long-time volunteer, Dr. J. Milford Anholm, passed away at home on July 24, 2017. He was 94 years old.

We still recall Milford—almost thirty years ago—braving the seas aboard our catamaran, The Canvasback, bringing dental care to the remote, outer islands of Micronesia. Among the first Canvasback volunteers, Milford gave more than time and expertise; with his late wife, Louise, registered nurse and dental assistant, Milford consistently delivered healthcare with genuine warmth and kindness. When his hands could no longer perform procedures he still kept giving, once screening 500 patients at a 2-week dental clinic, acting as consultant to the other dentists. And to this day, the ever-increasing dental health among children of Ebeye is a result of the school dental program Milford created.  

Son of Danish immigrants, Milford could empathize with disadvantaged children, since he himself faced poverty and loss as a boy.  Six years after his birth in 1923, Milford lost his mother and, seven years later, his father. Orphaned at 15, Milford had to make his own way in the world. 

“Milford never forgot what he came from,” says Jacque Spence. “And was grateful that a benefactor helped him get his early education.” Milford helped earn his way by delivering milk, mowing lawns, and doing odd jobs. When going through dental school, he continued his odd jobs, often feeling too tired to get up in the morning. “He told us he used to stick his feet in ice water to make himself wake up,” Spence recalls.

An adventurer who lived in 22 places, from Corvallis to Bangkok, and who visited over 100 countries, Milford is remembered by son John as a man who walked his faith, as did his wife of 61 years.

“Something about the way they lived was contagious,” explains John, also a Canvasback volunteer with his wife, Dr. Anne Anholm. “Doing for others, and volunteering for mission trips was a result of the way our family lived.”

Milford’s generosity lives on in the lives of those he cared for on 33 mission trips, and those whom he aided in providing a Christian education, just as someone so long ago did for him.


 A memorial service and celebration of Milford’s life will be held 4:00 p.m. on September 30, 2017, at the Thai Seventh-day Adventist Church, 10855 New Jersey St. Redlands, CA 92373. The family request that in lieu of flowers, memorial gifts should be sent to Canvasback Missions, 940 Adams Street, Suite R, Benicia, CA 94510.  (Milford was buried near his wife following a simple graveside service at Montecito Memorial Park, 3520 East Washington Street, Colton, CA 92324.)