Colin McMillan, Bush nominee for Navy secretary, dies at age 67

Friday, July 25, 2003

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Oilman Colin McMillan, nominated as Navy secretary by President Bush in May, died Thursday at his ranch in southern New Mexico. He was 67.

The cause and manner of death were not immediately disclosed. Roswell Mayor Bill Owen, a family spokesman and longtime McMillan employee, said neither the Otero County sheriff's office nor the state Office of the Medical Investigator in Albuquerque had determined the cause.

Owen said McMillan died around lunchtime and his body was discovered by two employees at McMillan's Three Rivers ranch, on the edge of the White Sands Missile Range.

McMillan had run Permian Exploration Corp. in Roswell, chaired Bush's New Mexico presidential campaign in 2000 and served as an assistant defense secretary under the first President Bush.

Sen. Pete Domenici and Rep. Steve Pearce, both New Mexico Republicans, issued statements mourning McMillan's death.

"America has lost a leader, a patriot and statesman," Pearce said.

Domenici said McMillan was "someone who succeeded at everything he tried and everything he did, and yet he was about as humble as anyone you will ever meet."

President Bush had submitted McMillan's nomination to the Senate in May to fill a post left vacant since January, when Gordon England left to become deputy secretary of the new Homeland Security Department. McMillan was awaiting Senate confirmation.

When his appointment was announced in May, defense officials had said they were working on terms under which McMillan would dispose of any stock holdings that could conflict with his official duties.

McMillan, besides managing the 2000 Bush campaign in New Mexico, was state chairman for Bob Dole's presidential campaign in 1996.

He also ran for the U.S. Senate in 1994, losing to incumbent Jeff Bingaman in a bitter and costly campaign. He was a member of the New Mexico House of Representatives from 1971 to 1982.

McMillan served in the Marine Corps from 1957-72 and was an assistant defense secretary in the early 1990s when Vice President Dick Cheney was the defense secretary.

McMillan was born in Texas and graduated from the University of North Carolina. He came to Roswell while working with Texaco in the 1960s, Owen said.

McMillan is survived by his wife, Kay, and their four children.

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