Dr. Bill Miller passed away peacefully in his home on January 8, 2023, surrounded by angels and loved ones.
William LeRoy Miller was born on Oct 8, 1945, in the Bremerton Naval Hospital, Bremerton, Washington. He was the second of four sons and lived with his parents, Dorothy and Dilge Miller, in the small lumber village of Oakville, Washington. He was a precocious youngster, quick and sharp, living in a community that loved him. In high school he was a celebrated achiever in Future Farmers of America, winning regional and state honors in fitting and showing cattle. As a sophomore, Bill rounded up other talented peers and captured all of the student government positions, serving as ASB President. An extremely talented leader and athlete, Bill was a proud Oakville Acorn, celebrated and admired by his family and community. He was captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams and was offered a full athletic scholarship to Eastern Washington University.
Bill met the love of his life, Judy Malernee, in Oakville. While attending Washington State University, Bill and Judy eloped to Coeur d’Alene, ID. Bill graduated from WSU with a degree in Education in 1968. He accepted his first teaching position in a public school in Centralia, Washington. Trusted to advocate for those who struggle, Bill was recommended to teach at a state school for delinquent teenage girls and boys. From there, he attended Central Washington University and obtained his Masters Degree in Education with an emphasis in Reading. At his professor’s encouragement, he pursued an EdD, successfully completing his doctorate at the University of Northern Colorado in August 1976, earning the distinction of Dr. Bill Miller, or simply “Dr Bill”.
Using his talents as an educational specialist, Bill worked in communities in Washington until he and Judy had the exciting opportunity to move to the North Slope of Alaska with their four children. Beginning the adventure of a lifetime, Bill was hired as the school principal in the small village of Atqasuk, AK. After two years, he was promoted to the leadership position of principal of Ipalook Elementary in Barrow, AK and spent the next decade-plus as a trusted administrator, innovator, thought-leader, and teacher of teachers in Alaskan communities.
Continuing his excellence in educational leadership, Bill and Judy left Alaska and moved to Mattawa, Washington where Bill became the Wahluke Superintendent of Schools, nominated several times for Superintendent of the Year at both the state and national level. He retired at the top of his career, only un-retiring briefly to be the principal at Forks Elementary in Forks, Washington, in order to train a new generation of teachers and administrators.
Bill Miller loved to work hard. At 5 years old, he picked up cans and bottles in his community to recycle and, at age 8, he expanded his financial enterprise to become a very popular, bicycle-riding paperboy. Bill loaded wood shake trucks, cut and baled hay, pioneered the Pacific Crest Trail for hiking, worked as a farmhand (including dairy farms), lumberjack, landscaper, garbageman, school bus driver, seasonal forest firefighter, volunteer fireman, as well as helping to design, build and renovate schools. One of his schools earned national recognition for construction and design.
Bill felt that every problem was an opportunity. He was an expert negotiator and conducted himself above reproach, unifying others around a common goal. He loved school kids of all ages and backgrounds and had a keen perception for those who felt marginalized or who struggled. His sense of humor and compassion was legendary and he knew how bring a community together. Bill loved music, basketball, football, golf, tennis, handball, running marathons, skiing, wrestling, boxing, hunting, hiking, camping, rafting, digging for clams, reading, writing, singing, writing poetry, king crab, vanilla ice cream, practical jokes, knives, guns and good, honest people.
Bill and Judy joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1968 in Pullman, Washington and the Bill Miller Family was sealed together in the Idaho Falls Temple in 1977. Bill presided over church services in Alaskan villages for 13 years.
Bill is preceded in death by his parents, Dilge and Dorothy Miller. He is survived by Judy Malernee Miller, his loving wife of 58 years and his children, Bruce (Mary) Miller, Rick (Kathryn) Miller, Katy Miller (Bill) Wade, and Jacob (Gina) Miller as well as 15 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. He was grateful for his brothers and their wives, Ken (Bonnie) Miller, Larry (Marj) Miller, and Tobe (Lorella) Miller with whom he shared so many adventures and memories.
Dr. Bill Miller—pioneer, loving husband and father, loyal friend, educational advocate for thousands of children, and the most kind, honest and dynamic man you could hope to know—will be greatly missed.