Alumni In Action
Dr. HERBERT C. MILLER
Dr. Herbert C. Miller January 5, 1930 – April 2, 2023
Dr. Herbert Cleo Miller, Ph.D., passed away on April 2, 2023, at the age of 93 after a brief illness. He was a retired Professor Emeritus of Indiana University Kokomo and a trendsetter in the field of education.
Dr. Miller was born on January 5, 1930, in Indianapolis, Indiana, to the late Walter and Orinda Pettiford Miller. He was the youngest child of his parents and a descendant of Joseph and Martha Weaver Pettiford. He was a 1948 graduate of Crispus Attucks High School. He attended Butler University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in German, Spanish, and French languages in 1952, graduating cum laude. He received his Master of Arts in Slavic Language and Literatures (Linguistics) from Indiana University in 1958 and his Ph.D. in Slavic Language and Literatures (Linguistics) in 1967. He also received a Romanian Language Certificate from Cornell University in 1953, and a Russian Language Certificate from Moscow State University in 1969.
As a United States Air Force member, Dr. Miller served his country with distinction. It was there that Dr. Miller learned and taught Russian. He was one of only 80 service members the US Information Agency (USIA) selected as a Russian-speaking guide in an exchange program with the then-Soviet Union. Even after joining the faculty of IU Kokomo, Dr. Miller continued to participate in USIA programs, including the first USA-Soviet Union exchange of language teachers, in which he studied Russian at Moscow State University. Dr. Miller was joined in marriage to his high school sweetheart, Lillian Fisher, on December 23, 1956, and they enjoyed 56 years of marital bliss until she died in 2014.
Dr. Miller arrived at the Indiana University of Kokomo campus in 1960, becoming the first black faculty member. He often spoke about accepting the job but not being able to find a place to live because of his color. He was able to enlist the aid of his friend, who was white, to help him find a place to stay and purchase land for his future home. Over the years, he worked to bring about racial equity for all in Kokomo. As he stated in an article about this, “I’ve spent a lot of my time over the past 30 years or so talking to people in the various communities and actively engaged in trying to push forward the issue of reducing the racial separation and racial segregation which was, at that time anyway, common. We worked toward getting an open housing ordinance, for example, in the city of Kokomo so that people coming into the area could buy a house or live wherever they wanted. Which was not the case when I came.” Dr. Miller held many roles on campus, including Professor of International Business and German, Dean of Faculties, Chief Executive Officer, Affirmative Action Officer, and Acting Chancellor. He retired in 1994 as the Professor Emeritus of Slavic Language, Literature, and German and Professor Emeritus of
International Business. After his retirement, he received many awards, including the IU Kokomo Distinguished Service Award, an Indiana University Honorary Degree, L.H.D, Doctor of Humane Letters, and the Bicentennial Medal. He was a passionate educator who dedicated his life to teaching and helping others succeed. He also received the Sagamore of the Wabash in 2000, from former Indiana Governor, Frank O’Bannon.
Beyond his work in the classroom and administration, Dr. Miller and his late wife, Lillian, were prominent community members, particularly in their outreach to newcomers to the Kokomo community. Dr. Miller and his wife welcomed newcomers by teaching them about American (and Hoosier) culture, connecting them with other community organizations, and helping them improve their English. Dr. Miller was preceded in death by his parents, his siblings, his nieces Beverly Jo Dotson, Angela Dotson Knox, and his nephews Timothy Dotson, Christopher Dotson, and Charles Westmoreland, and great great nephew Clinton Ron Walker.
Dr. Miller is survived by his niece Carla Stratton Shepherd (Eddie), nephew Andre’ L. Vaughn, and niece Adrienne N. Shepherd McQuiston(Arron), great grandchildren Spencer L., Elliot R., Maddox V. McQuiston. Nieces Gloria Westmoreland, Norma Johnson, Linda Williams, Nephews Wayne Dotson, Reginald Dotson and Darryl Franklin, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Dr. Herbert C. Miller will be remembered for his pioneering work in education and his dedication to improving the lives of others. Beyond his scholarly accomplishments, Dr. Miller, or as his family called him, “Uncle Herbie”, was known for his kindness, generosity, cooking and humor. He was a mentor and friend to countless students and colleagues, and his impact on the IU Kokomo community will be felt for years. He was a kind and generous soul whose laugh was infectious. He was a source of joy and pride to his friends and family. He will be greatly missed by the community and all who knew him.
Memorial services will be held on Friday, April 14th, at IU Kokomo beginning at 3:00 in Kresge Auditorium. A reception will be held immediately after starting at 5:00. A public viewing will be held from 9:00 – 11 before the funeral service begins on Saturday, April 15th at 11:00 at Wayman Chapel 920 North Apperson Way, Kokomo, IN 46901. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Dr. Herbert C. and Lillian M. Miller International Travel Scholarship (0370012373), IU Foundation, P.O. Box 6460, Indianapolis, Indiana 46206. All gifts will support international travel at IU Kokomo. Gifts can also be made at https://give.myiu.org/iu-kokomo/P370012373.html