Milton Slade

May 08, 2017
Milton Slade

Camden — Milton Slade was born Sept. 7, 1925, in Los Angeles. The son of Russian immigrants and the youngest of four children, he faced many early challenges, from which grew an exceptionally good-natured outlook on life that served him, and all who knew him, well for almost 92 years.

From an early age, Milton had a keen eye for business opportunities. He sold flowers on the street corner and collected milk bottles from neighbors. Life in Los Angeles during the Depression offered simple pleasures and Milton enjoyed camping with other families by the river and the smell of orange blossoms that filled the city on a starlit night. At the age of 16, he left school to help support his family and worked for the city of Los Angeles as a gardener. He helped to plant and maintain the iconic Griffith Park, the Greek Theater, Pacific Palisades Park, and Holmby Park, and earned the rank of senior gardener.

In 1943, at the age of 18, Milton enlisted in the Army and received the first set of new clothes in his life, his uniform. He served as a medic at Camp Beale near Sacramento, Calif., and it was there that he took his first train ride, igniting a passion for trains and travel that would last a lifetime.

In 1949 Milton met Ditte, a beautiful blond with a warm smile and sparkly eyes. Three months later, they were married and together raised two daughters and built a wonderful life filled with family and a devoted circle of friends known as the "Bicycle Group."

In 1950, Milton and his older brother, Irv, decided to take a chance and go into business together. They bought a landscape company that had three accounts and Milton pulled out the back seat of his car to make room for a lawnmower and tools. When the number of accounts grew, they bought a used pickup truck at an auction and started to service many of the city’s parks. When Irv died suddenly, Milton continued to run the business on his own for 25 years, retiring at the age of 55, when the business was the largest landscape maintenance company in the city of Los Angeles. “Not bad, for a gardener,” he liked to say.

After retiring, Milton continued to live life to the fullest. A self-taught historian of old Los Angeles, he was often asked to lecture at local libraries, colleges, and historical societies, and photos from his collection were featured in books and articles.

In 2013 Milton and Ditte moved to Maine to be close to their daughter Beverly. Milton gracefully tolerated the Maine winters, but remained a Californian through and through. On April 21, 2017, seven months to the day after losing his Ditte, Milton died peacefully at home, surrounded by his loving family.

Milton is survived by his daughters, Beverly Slade and Barbara Slade; his son-in-law, David Conover; his daughter-in-law, Jane Scott; and his beloved grandchildren, Emma Rose Conover and William Garrett Conover. East and west, he will be truly missed.

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