Diocese’s oldest priest dies May 13 in Springdale

Father Milton Lange

SPRINGDALE — Father Milton Robert Lange, the oldest priest in the Diocese of Little Rock, died May 13. He was 96.

Father Lange was born July 1, 1919 in Milwaukee and was educated at Holy Angels Parochial School and Boy’s Trade and Technical High School. Before joining the priesthood, Father Lange graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1943 and became a chemical engineer. He worked at the Pine Bluff Arsenal, making mustard gas during World War II. Once the war ended, he worked for the Cotton Belt Railroad. After a few months, he joined St. John Seminary in Little Rock and was ordained on May 31, 1952, right before his 33rd birthday.

After he entered the seminary, he taught math and science at Catholic High School until 1966 when he was sent to St. Jude Church in Jacksonville. He was instrumental in changing the once Presbyterian church building into a Catholic parish.

From 1970 to 1980, Father Lange served at St. Raphael Church in Springdale and then at Christ the King Church in Fort Smith for three years. In 1983, he returned to St. Raphael and has remained in the northwest Arkansas community since his retirement in 1996.

In retirement, he continued to hear confessions on Saturday mornings and celebrate Mass at 7 a.m. on Sundays at St. Raphael.

In a 2012 Arkansas Catholic article celebrating his 60th jubilee as a priest, it said Father Lange enjoyed being a ham radio operator, gardening and would walk with the assistance of “George,” the nickname he gave his cane.

“God has been good to me. I can’t complain. God has been very good to me,” Father Lange said in 2012. “I just wish other people would have as good a life as I’ve had.”

There are no immediate survivors.

A vigil service was May 18 and a Mass of Christian Burial will be May 27 at 10 a.m. at St. Raphael Church.

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