Milton Charles Cissell

Milton Cissell

Milton Charles Cissell, most often known as Milt, but sometimes Chuck or Butch, was born on December 9, 1944, in St. Louis, Missouri. He grew up in Creve Coeur, just outside of St. Louis, with his mother Mildred, his father Clyde, and his brother Bob. His first job was working with his father as a landscaper, which became a hobby he continued to enjoy throughout his life.

He was the first of his family to attend college, graduating in 1967 from the University of Missouri at Rolla (now Missouri S&T) with a degree in Chemistry.  It was at this point Milt permanently relocated to the Pacific Northwest to continue his education and eventually live out his life.  He went on to earn a Master’s degree in Chemical Oceanography from Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, in 1969. However, discovering on a research assignment that he was given to seasickness, he did not pursue a career in oceanography. Instead, he was drafted into the U.S. Army after he notified his draft board of his upcoming research trip. Since the trip took him into international waters, he was immediately drafted into the Vietnam war, just six months before aging out of eligibility. After purposefully flunking his Officer’s candidate exam out of anger and subsequently designated to the front lines of the war, his science skills were soon discovered, and was instead reassigned and served as an SP5 Analytical Chemist in the Chemical Division at Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah, from April 1969 to April 1971. After an honorable discharge, he returned to Oregon State University to earn a Master’s in Business Administration in 1974.

During his educational years in Corvallis, Milt worked for the Whiteside Theater as a projectionist, one of his favorite jobs, feeding reels of film to moviegoers’ delight.  After his graduations, he worked for the National Sea Grant College at Oregon State, making use of both of his master’s degrees. In 1981 he obtained a position at the Oregon State Board of Higher Education, where he began working in the programming and systems analysis field. He lived and worked in Corvallis until 1995, when CH2M Hill Inc, his employer of 8 years, relocated to Denver, prompting his family’s relocation to Seattle, where he worked for McCaw Cellular/AT&T, and finally Starbucks, where he worked as a software engineer from 1997 until his retirement in 2011.

Milt was a confirmed bachelor until he met Kathleen (Katie) Forse Appell, a bank teller at his local branch. They began dating, and married on April 5, 1986, and he took on the work of raising Katie’s three teenage sons with all the love, kindness, and generosity that he brought to everything he did. Though he never had any biological children, he was a natural grandpa to Grace (17), Holden (12), Elinor (8), and Allison (2). He also doted on his mother-in-law, Betty, and loved to sit for hours, talking and playing cribbage with her.

Milt threw himself wholeheartedly into everything he did. He loved a project (the more laborious, detailed and highly skilled effort, the better) whether it was building a screen porch, landscaping a garden, just tinkering away on his tool bench, or puttering around the house and cleaning and organizing the piles left by his wife. He was known to stay up all night making cream puffs for his co-workers (which he did every year on his birthday).  His record was 167 cream puffs! They were completely devoured by 8:30 am. Unless asleep working on his computer, or in front of his TV, the man rarely stopped moving. At least, not until it was gin-and-tonic-o’clock, although he also liked a martini or a beer. The second company arrived he was ready to be the mixologist, and he made the best Manhattan on the planet.

Milt was an introvert and loved to unwind and recharge by devouring shows or by reading his science magazines He was a principled man of thought and science, and a self proclaimed atheist, although he was baptized and confirmed at St. Paul’s Evangelical Church. He was also extremely conscientious and neat, and loved his tan sweaters and neutral colored clothing. Milt was a genuinely generous man, always willing to provide a helping hand to friends and family. Even though he could be quick to irritate, as he sometimes did not suffer foolishness lightly, he’d just as quickly forgive and return to a helpful demeanor.  He enjoyed watching baseball and football, and supported his children by attending their sporting matches.

Milt was an early bird, who loved his coffee and newspaper, especially the comics section, punctuating each cartoon with his hearty laugh that filled the room, to start his day.  He was often prompted to wake for breakfast by one of his now-deceased cats — Bandit, Buddy, or Callie — who he loved spoiling with fancy canned food and plenty of lap naps.

Milt loved a story in any form. He often listened to radio dramas while he worked or drove, and watched detective shows and quirky science fiction all his life. He never knew a mystery show that he didn’t solve before the end, immediately announcing to whoever he was with that he knew who did it. He played cards, especially cribbage and poker, as well as board games and other games of strategy and chance. He also loved to ski, golf, camp and raft, garden, attend movies and theatrical performances, cook and grill, and be with family and friends.  He was an avid exerciser, running into his 50s, taking frequent trips to the health club throughout his life.

Milt was diagnosed with ALS on January 7th, 2017 and died on June 18, 2019. That day his famous hearty laugh disappeared, never to return. He did often express gratitude for the care he received from family, friends, and caregivers. Their love and attention enabled him to bear his condition.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Clyde and Mildred; and his brother, Bob. He is survived by his wife, Katie, of Bothell, WA; his step-sons, Nelson and wife Aimee of Washington, MO, Jaime and wife Michele, of Bellevue, WA, and Eric and wife Christy, of Kirkland, WA; four grandchildren; sister-in-law Dorothy Cissell, of St. Charles, MO; nephew David Cissell and wife Mary Beth, of Wentzville, MO; niece Karen and husband Steve, of Defiance, MO; and nephew Bobby of St. Peters, MO, nephew Jared Lasater and wife Chelsea of Snohomish, WA, and many more beloved friends and family.

There will be a memorial service at Gift of Grace Lutheran Church, 2102 N 40th Street, Seattle, on July 6, starting at 6:30 pm. Private interment will be at 11:30 a.m. on July 5, at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, WA.

6 Responses to “Milton Charles Cissell”

  • Kathy Lassen says:

    I have know Milt from the beginning of Katie meeting him. She was so in love with him from the beginning. They equaled each other in intelligence and generosity. My late husband, my kids and I had many a wonderful adventure with the family. We loved him as if he was our family member. The world has lost a shining beacon.

  • Joe and Dona Moody says:

    Katie, we are so sorry to hear this news. Prayers coming your way for comfort and healing. God bless you! ❤ Dona & Joe

  • Paul and Sue Stromsness says:

    Our hearts are so sad. Milt brought a smile to everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him. That smile of his was one of a kind. We are so sorry for your loss and pray that the memories you hold will give you peace. God Bless you all.

  • Mary Beth Cissell says:

    So very sorry for your loss. Uncle Milt was a very special person in our lives. He was always so full of life, laughter and a little ornery. The first time a met him and we talked about cats I knew we would get along so very well. Visits there or St Louis were always too short and too far between. He will be missed tremendously. He is at peace.

  • Michele Appell says:

    Milt will we missed. I have known him every since I met Jaime and Katie back in the early 90’s. He was a great person and Dad to us all. Milt was a wonderful grandfather too. He had lots of friends and family. We have lots of memories with family gatherings and trips. He had a gray smile and laugh. You are the best Milt and will always be with all of us.

  • Don Langford says:

    Last night, a memory of a 1962 white Chevy Impala jumped into my head along with the name Milton Cissel. I had not seen Milton in a very long time. We were Chemistry students at MSM, later named UMR. Milton was ahead of me and closer to graduation. I looked him up immediately on the internet.

    In 1966, he had relocated to the Univ of Missouri main campus at Columbia to take some classes, I believe, and he had invited me to visit him for my 21st birthday. He said he would get dates for both of us. As I recall, he had a basement room like those rented to students in a home at that time. When I arrived, I asked Milton when and who we would be going out with. He said, “I don’t know how to tell you this, but we don’t have any dates.” It was alright, though, after some disappointment, but I can’t remember what we did – dinner and refreshments, I imagine.

    I don’t believe that I saw Milton after that weekend, but I haven’t forgotten him. We both have had similar lives in that we had Chemistry backgrounds, were in the military and later worked with computer disciplines. I married in 1969, however.

    I didn’t know that Milton was an atheist, but may the Lord Bless You, Milton. You were a kind and nice person. I’m saddened that you struggled with ALS. Until we meet again.

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