PORT ST. LUCIE PEOPLE
JOYCE MARIE MILLIGAN
Lives in: Port St. Lucie
Occupation: School crossing
Family: Son and his family live in
Stuart; daughter and son-in-law
live in Huntsville, Alabama
Education: B.S. in education from
Ball State University (Muncie, Indiana); master’s in music
education from University of Southern Mississippi
Hobbies: music, theater, crocheting afghans, Native American
bead-work (“My father was 7/8 Cherokee, from the
Who inspires me: “My dad. He overcame tremendous difficulties
and a horrible childhood to educate himself and go
Something most people don’t know about me: “I was offered
a fellowship at Eastman School of Music to pursue my doctorate
but had to decline. I couldn’t take two years off from my
teaching job. Those pesky things like bills, you know … the
finer things in life like electricity, insurance, groceries!”
As musical director for A.C.T. Studio Theatre’s recent production of A Christmas
Carol, Milligan worked with singers and actors of all ages. Shown here
are (left to right) Milligan, Brian Grien, Samyah Henry and Fletcher Morton.
looking up to guards as extra grandparents or mentors. “All
of our guards are excellent,” Salena says, “but Joyce is one of
Milligan’s posts, which she shares with two other guards
on the team, are particularly busy. After working at River’s
Edge Elementary School on St. James Boulevard, the team
moves just south to Southern Oaks Middle School to contend
with a divided highway as well as a single entry and exit system.
“The job is not for the timid, or the faint of heart,” says
Salena. “Even our officers compliment their work.”
Milligan, who admits she was scared the first time she
walked out into traffic, says that bad experiences are a regular
part of her week. “Frustrated people cuss at us. We take turns
with who gets to go first, and some people don’t like to wait.
They can be very juvenile.”
They can also be reckless. Milligan has almost been hit on occasion.
“How could they not see me in this neon green vest?”
If drivers zip through stop signs or speed through school zones
often enough to be recognized, license numbers are reported.
The police may go to the driver directly or perhaps station an
officer nearby to watch for further reckless behavior.
Students are, for the most part, more compliant. “Once in a
while, a student doesn’t want to follow the rules, but the supervisor
will talk to the principal or let the student know an officer
may show up at his house to discuss it with his parents.”
Like the ancient Persian quote associated with the United
States Postal Service, crossing guards sometimes face inclement
weather: Neither snow nor rain ... stays these couriers
from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. In case
of lightning, guards are allowed to return to their vehicles
only if no students are present. Before concrete light poles replaced
wooden ones, Milligan says she was working during a
storm and had just gotten into her car when lightning struck
the pole where she had been standing.
Lightning might send Milligan to her car, but spotlights?
That’s another matter. When she auditioned for a role in a
community theater production of Annie Get Your Gun in 1978,
she got the lead. “It was a baptism by fire.” She was also completely
Over the years, Milligan has served as stage manager, musical
director, choreographer and actor in amateur companies
as well as performing with a few professional dinner theaters.
“I used to prefer musicals, but the older I get, the less I sing.
I enjoy acting, though, and working with musical direction.”
Local audiences often see her at the Pineapple Playhouse in
Fort Pierce or A.C.T. Studio Theatre in Stuart.
In December, Milligan was both musical director and accompanist
for A.C.T.’s production of A Christmas Carol. This
involved rehearsals and performances after work, fitting in
her regular gig playing piano for First Baptist Church in Fort
Pierce. “You just change hats,” says Milligan.
As well as that neon green vest. E
Port St. Lucie Magazine 53
Milligan and the other guards get children safely from Point A to Point B,
but also might get to know the children well enough to notice problems.