Milo Green: A Man of Many Talents Makes His Mark in Iowa and Nebraska

   Someone once told me that everyone is born with a gift. It is up to us what to do with that gift, but if you have it, why not use it? As I’ve grown older, I’ve found that some people are born with several gifts, and they use each and every one to the fullest extent of their ability. One of these people was Milo Green.

   Milo Leonard Green was born in Taylor County, Iowa in 1908. When Milo was a little older, he and his family moved north to Corning, in Adams County. He grew up there, attending one-room school houses and discovering a real interest in public performance and art.

   As he grew older and entered into high school, Milo continued to develop these talents. He and his classmate Warren Lee founded the Greenlee Players, a group of locals who wrote, directed, and starred in plays. At first, they put on performances on the stage of the Corning Opera House, but they would later play in other towns, as well. Many of these plays were very well received, and Milo loved to perform.

Poster Milo Green
An advertisement for a play starring Milo L. Green at the Corning Opera House. Courtesy of the Corning Opera House. 

   Milo entered his artwork in the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, and was voted class president. He was popular and well-liked by many.

milo green painting
A landscape painting by Milo Green. Please note his signature in the corner in the lower left. Courtesy of Corning Opera House. 

   After he graduated high school in 1927, Milo started attending classes at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. It was here that he discovered a talent for yet another performance medium – radio. Teaming up with a few friends, including Warren Lee, Milo put on performances over a local radio station in Iowa City.  He would go on to do extensive radio work while living there.

   In 1941, Milo entered the United States Army. By the end of the year, the United States had entered World War II.  Milo did not hesitate to join the fight in Europe, and in 1942 he shipped out overseas. While he was there, he put his writing talents to good use.  Milo wrote a column called “Brickbats” for the Corning-based newspaper the Adams County Free Press, talking about what was going on with Co. F of the National Guard, based out of nearby Villisca, Iowa. Several men from Corning were also enlisted in that unit.

   “Brickbats” was, like any other kind of correspondence in WWII, censured by the United States military. This didn’t bother Milo, however, and he was able to paint an accurate picture of what it was like fighting in Europe and North Africa, as well as how daily life went for the soldiers from Southwest Iowa. In the days before satellites and cell phones, it must have been a comfort to the families back in Corning to know how things were going for their loved ones.

North Africa Iowa Milo Green
U.S. soldiers in Africa during World War II. 

    Milo was honorably discharged in 1945, and returned to the United States. He settled in Council Bluffs, and found work as a radio announcer for an AM radio station out of Omaha, Nebraska called KOIL. He also continued to act and perform in the local Omaha theatre scene, winning awards for his efforts. This included the locally prestigious Henry Fonda – Dorothy McGuire ‘Oscar’ award for best seasonal acting at the Omaha Community Playhouse in 1948.

   Milo was proud of his work, and people were proud of Milo. But for him, there was still something lacking. He rejoined the Air Force in 1950, becoming a public relations specialist. With his background, Milo was almost overqualified.

   In 1951, Milo challenged his painting skills once again. He had kept up with it since submitting his art to the Iowa State Fair in high school. He had even started painting the Stations of the Cross at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Corning at one time, but was unable to complete the project. During his second enlistment in the military, Milo would challenge his skills even more.

   Using oil paints, he painted what was, at that time, one of the biggest murals in Nebraska. On a permanent wall in the armory of the Organized Reserve Corps at Fort Omaha, Milo painted a seventy-five foot long, twelve foot high landscape mural that served as a backdrop for their indoor shooting range.

   He also gave talks about military life and subject matter in Corning, as well as other places. In about 1957, Milo made his last public appearance in Corning when he served as the PA announcer for a large local event.

   But, all good things must come to an end. In 1959, Milo Green was found dead in his Omaha hotel room. He was only 51 years old.

   Some have said that the lights that burn brightest also burn out fastest. Milo Green was a bright light in the world he lived in, and was blessed with several gifts. Milo used those gifts to their fullest extent, giving back to the people and the communities of both Iowa, the state of his birth, and Nebraska, where he lived for so many years.    

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