Conway PD major shares memories of career

By Caroline Zilk Published November 27, 2011 at 3:10 a.m.
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— One of Bill Milburn’s earliest memories is watching his home church, the First Church of the Nazarene in Conway, burn to the ground when he was only 5 years old.

The Conway native remembers that church members were in the middle of a discussion about whether to remain in its old location or move to a new facility.

“God answered that question for us, and we ended up rebuilding in that same location,” Milburn said. “I could take you over and show you within 5 feet of where I was standing when it happened.”

Milburn likes to say that he won his wife, Pam, in a card game. He did, in fact, win a bet to take his roommate’s sister out on a date.

“I proposed to her three days later,” he said. “It took her about a year to say ‘yes.’”

The Milburns, who have been married for 40 years, first lived in Nampa, Idaho, near Pam’s family. He graduate d from Northwest Nazarene University with a degree in business administration in 1973. When their children were young, the Milburns decided to move back to Conway.

“We wanted to give my parents a chance to spend time with their grandchildren while they were still young,” Milburn said.

Since he had fond memories of ride-alongs with his brotherin-law, a police officer in Oklahoma City, Okla., Milburn decided to apply to work for the Conway Police Department.

When asked why he has loved his job so much for the past 26 years, Milburn said he didn’t want to give the standard answer: He likes to help people.

“But that’s the truthful answer, too,” he said. “I think it’s a way of giving back to your community. I didn’t just want to be a police officer. I wanted to be a police officer in Conway, my hometown, and overall, it’s been a good career. I would do it again.”

While serving as a sergeant, Milburn was appointed SWAT commander. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1997. In that position, he served as patrol shift supervisor and supervisor of the Conway Regional Drug Task Force until he was promoted to major in 2002.

He said one of his proudest moments was placing 11th in the National SWAT Team Championships in Atlanta in 1992.

“We were just a small town SWAT team,” he said. “We did it as a learning experience and competed against federal officers and members of the military.”

In his spare time, Milburn is usually either in the deer woods or in Belize helping to build schools.

He said that project got started several years ago at First Baptist Church in Conway.

“They were helping out a Nazarene school down there and visited our church to tell us about it,” Milburn said. “I told my wife that if the Baptists were working on a Nazarene school, I better get on the bus.”

Milburn said he is much more concerned with schools in South America teaching students about Jesus than the name on the front of the building.

Milburn has worked with Conway Police Chief A.J. Gary for parts of 26 years. Gary said Milburn’s hardworking spirit and institutional knowledge will be greatly missed when he retires in June.

“He is a person of high integrity,” Gary said of Milburn. “He is a great role model for others to follow. He is always hard-working.”

Milburn was recently awarded the Jim Wooley Lifetime Achievement Award at the first Law Enforcement Officer awards at New Life Church in Conway.

“I knew Jim Wooley,” Milburn said. “He was a good cop and a great man, so it was an honor to receive something named after him.”

Milburn said he is looking forward to retirement.

“I’ve heard you can get tired of fishing, so I’m going to try,” he said.

River Valley & Ozark Edition Writer Caroline Zilk can be reached at 501-244-4326 or

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