Frederick Gene Miller, 86, died on Dec. 4, 2022, at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, Ill. He was born on Jan. 1, 1936, in Greentown, Ind., to Floyd Dennis and Ruth Helena (Knote) Miller. Gene married Linda Lou Walker in Kokomo, Ind., on June 15, 1958. She survives.
Gene and Linda are the parents of three children — Douglas (Belinda) Miller of Strasburg, Va., Deanna (Kirwin) Stewart of Holdrege, Neb., and Melinda (Karen Jannusch) Miller of Champaign, Ill. They have four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister, Marcia Ann (John) Hailey of Richmond, Va. His brother, Robert William Miller, preceded him in death.
Gene was active in many academic clubs in his youth, including the YMCA Hi-Y Club, student council, Model U.N., and junior Rotarians. An avid music lover, he played clarinet in junior high, high school, and college; was part of the marching band; and served as a drum major in high school. He also earned the Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout rank.
Gene graduated from Kokomo High School in 1954, earned a B.A. degree from Butler University in 1958, and M.A. (1964) and Ph.D. (1969) degrees from Ball State University.
He was a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, serving from 1958 to 1961 in Minot, N.D.
The son and grandson of educators, Gene was passionate throughout his life about the value of public education and dedicated his professional career to training teachers. After two years as a graduate teaching fellow at Ball State University, he came to Macomb, Ill., in 1968 to teach at the Western Laboratory School. Soon after, he taught social studies at the Laboratory School and social studies methods at the Western Illinois University College of Education. Starting in the mid-1970s, his time was split between teaching as a professor in the College of Education and serving as the director of the Curriculum Publications Clearinghouse.
Gene was active at the local, regional, and national levels in professional organizations such as the National Council for Social Studies and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. In the summer of 1969, he traveled to India to participate in the Foreign Policy Association’s Modernization Project in India. He also guided tours and served as a European contact person for the WIU Travel Aboard Program.
Gene served on the WIU Faculty Senate and several university, college, and department committees. He was a member of the advisory committee for the Western Illinois Museum. He served as a reader and advisory board member for the Audio Information Service at WIU.
He believed in civic duty, served as a Macomb Alderman from 1987 to 1991, and faithfully flew an American flag on holidays. He also greatly admired President Abraham Lincoln and studied his life and times.
After retiring from WIU in 1997, Gene studied for two years and become a Commissioned Lay Pastor in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 2005. Gene preached at churches in Bushnell and Quincy, Ill., among others. Gene and Linda were members of the First Presbyterian Church of Macomb from 1968 to 2022, and worshipping God was always essential to Gene’s life.
In this “spare” time, he enjoyed woodworking, taking care of his yard, feeding the birds, attending concerts at Western Hall, traveling, and helping Linda with her store, Everything Nice.
Gene and Linda moved to Urbana, Ill., in late 2021 to be near their youngest daughter.
Cremation rites have been accorded. A Memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 7, 2023 at the Macomb First Presbyterian Church with Pastor Rene Whitaker officiating. Visitation will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, January 6, 2023 at Clugston-Tibbitts Funeral Home in Macomb.
Donations in his memory may be made to the First Presbyterian Church of Macomb, the Western Illinois Museum, or the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.
You may leave condolences and sign the guest book online at clugston-tibbitts.com.