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College remembers Miller

Liz Harter | Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Saint Mary’s community is paying tribute to former chair of the department of mathematics and professor Donald E. Miller who died Sunday, April 13, in his home after a six-month battle with cancer.

Miller, 67, taught mathematics at the College since 1967 and chaired the department since 1997. He was assistant coach of the Belles softball team, a position he took over in the 2000-2001 year. He also served as the faculty advisor for the team, helping them to keep up with their majors, grades and other scholastic matters.

Shortly after the news was released to the College, Resident Advisors (RA) sent e-mails to their residents to inform them.

“If you would please pray for his soul as well as pray family and loved ones, I’m sure they would appreciate it,” LeMans R.A. Christina Werner said in an e-mail.

A Facebook group, ‘Donald E. Miller Memorial (and fan club!)’, was also created to honor him.

Over 200 Saint Mary’s students, alumnae and friends of Miller’s family joined the group, leaving notes of sympathy and memories of Miller on the group wall.

“As a teacher, he was always doing something crazy,” sophomore Theresa Earle said. “He called tests celebrations and he made sure that everyone talked in every class. He often said that a day in which you did not contribute to class was a day wasted.”

Associate professor of mathematics Mary Connolly agreed with Earle.

“Don was the consummate teacher,” Connolly said. “His students would all say that he challenged them and led them to levels they never thought possible. Students were always his first priority, whether working with them in class, in the office, on the softball field or in developing new or enhanced programs of study. His enduring legacy will be the students whose lives he changed.”

She said many students and alumnae attended Miller’s funeral, which was held Thursday at Little Flower Catholic Church.

“His record of service to the College is extensive, but his real legacy will be the students whose lives he changed,” Connolly said. “The number of students who found his course tough as nails and ended up loving him is astounding.”

She said the department has been getting notes of sympathy from everyone imaginable. There is a bulletin board in the mathematics hallway where students and members of the community can write remembrances of Miller. The math professors have been adding notes they have received from alumnae and faculty at other local colleges.

Miller often donned a red suit and transformed into Santa Claus during the holiday season and many students have written on the memory board “everyone already misses you dearly, Santa.”

He also served as the marshal at Commencement ceremonies for more than two decades.

“Don was the ideal College marshal,” Commencement Committee Chair Susan Dampeer said in a statement. “[The event] is consistently beautiful, dignified, and flawless because of his attention to detail. Don loved the ceremony and understood its significance in the lives of our students and their families. It is hard to imagine Commencement without him.”

Miller’s family asks any donations be made to the Donald E. Miller Memorial Fund at the College.