Chattanooga-area Judge Ted Milburn dies

April 11, 2016

From The Chattanoogan

U.S. Circuit Judge H. Ted Milburn of Signal Mountain, Tennessee, died after a brief illness on April 1, 2016. 

Judge Milburn was born in Cleveland, Tn. on May 26, 1931.  He was the youngest of the six children of The Reverend James Earl Milburn, Sr. and Hazel Dell Shanks Milburn.  During his childhood, his family lived in many locations in East Tennessee where his father was a Methodist minister.  He spent his teenage years growing up in Chattanooga where he graduated from Chattanooga City High School in 1949.

After high school, Judge Milburn attended college at The University of Chattanooga for one year and then was awarded a scholarship for voice at Boston University where he spent one year.  He completed his B.S. at East Tennessee State University in 1953 and joined the Army serving for three years in the Army Security Agency.  Judge Milburn embarked on his lifelong pursuit of justice studying at The University of Tennessee College of Law graduating in 1959.  While at the University of Tennessee, Judge Milburn met the love of his life, Alice Elaine Dillow and they were married on August 23, 1957.

After graduation, the couple moved from Knoxville to Chattanooga to establish what became their lifelong home.  Judge Milburn joined a local law firm establishing himself as a talented and accomplished trial lawyer.

Based on his hard work and legal skill, he quickly became a partner at what became Bishop, Thomas, Leitner, Mann and Milburn.  He spent many years developing as a lawyer and especially loved being in the courtroom.  His success and fairness earned him the respect of the legal community which resulted in his appointment by Gov. Winfield Dunn to be a judge, Tennessee
Circuit Court, Div III, Hamilton County in 1973.  He subsequently won reelection, running unopposed, to this position twice.

In 1983, Judge Milburn was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, upon the recommendation of Senator Howard Baker, as a US District Judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee sitting in Chattanooga.  The next year, President Reagan appointed him to a newly created seat as a US Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.  During his tenure he served on and was chairperson of the Administrative Office Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States.  He served actively on the court until 1996 when he took Senior Status.

In addition to his family and his legal career, Judge Milburn's other passion was music, especially choral music.  During college, he was a member of several choirs and paid for his college education as the choir director of churches in Erwin, Chattanooga and Knoxville.  He was regularly a member of his church choir and also loved performing at holiday events at the courthouse.  After taking Senior Status from the Court and moving to the Alexian Retirement Village on Signal Mountain, he continued to sing at events up until his death.

He is preceded in death by his siblings, Mary Tilson, Ruth Clark, James (Jim) E. Milburn, Jr., William (Bill) Milburn, and his daughter Elizabeth (Lisa) Milburn.  

He is survived by his wife of almost 59 years, Elaine Milburn, their son and his wife, Blair and Susan Milburn, and his brother, Dr. Joseph (Joe) Milburn.  

The family will be holding a private memorial service for Judge Milburn.

Remembrances can be shared with the family via email at <>.  Memorial contributions in lieu of flowers can be sent to Grace Episcopal Church, 20 Belvior Ave, Chattanooga, TN 37411, where his ashes will be interred.  

Visit to share words of comfort to the family.

Arrangements are by Heritage Funeral Home, 7454 East Brainerd Road, Chattanooga, TN  37421.

Judge H. Ted Milburn