Wayne Thomas Lee Milnes was born in Frankfurt, Germany on June 25th, 1950 to Paul Eugene Milnes and Ethel Milnes (nee Smith). At the 97th General US Army Hospital. Wayne was the second oldest of five siblings. He graduated from William Crismon High School in Independence, MO in 1968 and attended Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU) from 1968 to 1972, majoring in speech and theater. Wayne enlisted in the US Army in 1970 and was honorably discharged the same year. He lived in Independence, MO, Springfield, MO, and Branson, MO. Wayne was married to Kelly Jones on October 9th, 1988 and fathered three children: Nicholas Kayne, Harrison Shad, and Thomas Rex, all of whom reside in Branson, MO. He leaves his three sons, siblings Susan Edmonds (Howard) of Blue Springs, MO, William Milnes of Blue Summit, MO, and Karen (John) Moore of Independence, MO, and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father and mother, and his brother Robert Milnes.
Wayne was a lifelong entertainer, beginning his career in 1968 at Silver Dollar City as a street performer and train robber. He later began performing in their many variety shows, entertaining hundreds of thousands if not millions in their many daily shows for nearly twenty years. He worked for Springfield television stations KMTC (now KRBK) and KSPR in performing roles. He held employment at several Branson theaters and attractions, including the Toby Show at the Corn Crib Theater, Grand Country Music Hall, the Grand Palace, the Jim Stafford Theater, the Kirby Van Burch Theater, Big Cedar Lodge, and several other engagements. Wayne also traveled the country doing school assembly programs, birthday parties, and presentations. He hosted and performed in several local area events and celebrations. He began his well-deserved retirement in 2015.
Wayne played many well-known characters such as hillbilly ne'er do wells Zenus and Cylde Cloyster, silent pantomimes Mike the Mechanical Man, the “Man Eating Fast,” and Mr. Bojangles, and was the first titled “Master Feature Entertainer” at Silver Dollar City. He hosted the late night horror show Dr. Dead for KMTC in the 1970’s. His arguably most iconic role was Sammy B. Good, a lovable hobo clown and host the Springfield children’s show Sammy’s Place on KSPR from 1985 to 1989. He made several other notable television appearances on different programs including Bozo the Clown and America’s Funniest People. He also enjoyed playing parts in his sons’ ill-conceived video projects.
What Wayne liked most in life was making others laugh. Wayne had a sense of humor unlike any other. He was always the funniest person in the room and would find a way to make even the most serious person crack a smile. Several have compared him to many comedy greats over the years, often being put ahead of them. Wayne was also a kind person and would do anything he could to help another in need. In his private life, he was a loving father who enjoyed spending time with his family. He enjoyed watching football and baseball on television with his sons, rooting for his Kansas City home teams and the St. Louis Cardinals. He was an avid watcher of television shows and films. He loved playing video games and keeping up with the newest electronics. Wayne was gifted with an unparalleled financial acumen and kept immaculate records.
He will be dearly missed. Memorial Services will be held at Snapp-Bearden Funeral Home and Crematory on Thursday, June 13th at 10 AM. Donations and contributions can be made towards Champion Athletes of the Ozarks, a local non-profit organization that benefits individuals with special needs, 1715 S. Kansas Ave., Springfield, MO 65807.
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