George Miller

MILLER

The life on earth of Brockway’s George Miller came to a close on Saturday, August 7, 2021 when he passed away at Christ the King Manor after a short illness. Our family, both the Grants and Hicks branches, had worked and played with George and his family for most of a lifetime and knew them all pretty well. In 2014, George was honored by the Brockway Area as its “Man of the Year”.

“George Miller was delivered by a neighbor lady on October 30, 1929 in a back sitting parlor of his grandfather’s farm house near Canonsburg, PA. He was the son of the late Archie and Pansy Miller and had a sister Pauline Wagner. Archie was actually a native of Brockway having been born in a little frame house on the corner of 2nd Avenue and Alexander Street in 1909. Archie’s mother was a Bliss from one of the pioneer families of the area, that lived on a 250-acre farm located around the intersection of Clay Plant Road and Game School Road.

Archie’s mother died of the flu when he was only 9 years old, so he went to live with his Bliss grandparents on the farm and went to school in the nearby one-room Holt School with the Freemers and Holts. Following the invitation of a friend, Archie went to work for the telephone company in the Pittsburgh area, where he met and married his Pansy, and took up permanent residence there. The Miller family originally lived in McDonald, PA and then moved to Carnegie as George was growing up.

George graduated from Baldwin High School in Pittsburgh where he played basketball and participated in track and gymnastics. He sang in the chorus and quartets and was elected president of his senior class. He also met the love of his life while in high school, named Lois Wise. George enrolled in college at the Penn State Behrend campus. For his sophomore year of college, he transferred to the main campus of Penn State at State College to continue his studies. He married Lois on March 3, 1951 while attending college and worked numerous jobs to support his family and his education including, working on farms, working at an A&P grocery store in the meat department, and pumping gas. He traveled back and forth to his jobs on a bicycle.

George and Lois had two sons, Bruce and Gary before he graduated from Penn State in 1953 with a degree in Agriculture Education and General Science. While attending a job interview for an Agriculture teaching position at an Indian Reservation in New York, George happened to be standing near Brockway School’s Superintendant, James L. Hysong. When he heard Mr. Hysong say that he needed an Agriculture Teacher, George introduced himself and then set up a time to travel to Brockway to meet with him. He was enthused about a job in Brockway it had always been a pleasure for the Millers to visit the Bliss family and other local relatives and to camp and hunt with them among the nearby hills and woods.

Mr. Hysong took George from house to house to meet the school directors where he was received favorably. George finished his classes at Penn State on a Friday and started to work the next Monday at Brockway teaching Vocational Agriculture in 1953. George taught Vocational Agriculture and Environmental classes for thirty-six years before his retirement, having earned an Honorary Keystone Farmer Degree and Honorary American Farmer Degree. In 1971 George was named Conservation Educator of the Year and in 1981 was voted into the Agricultural Hall of Fame by the House of Representatives for service in agriculture.

For many seasons during his teaching career, George took a group of students to the PA Farm Show in January who had earned the trip through their work in class and in the FFA (Future Farmers of America). It was an educational trip but George always went far beyond the call of duty by including a side trip to some other facility. His theory was “Walk right in like you belong there and nobody will ask any questions!” During the summer, high achieving students also had the opportunity to go on a camping/fishing trip to Canada.

Shortly after retirement from teaching, George was recommended by the district’s Senator, to be named as a director on the PA Game Commission. He received a majority vote from the Senate in 1989 and was appointed to serve the unexpired term of a vacancy. He was then reappointed for another 8 years, where he served as president for two of them. George spent long hours devoting his time to going to meetings in Harrisburg and meeting with numerous sportsmen across the state. One of George’s most prize accomplishments is the Clarion-Little Toby Creek Trail. George spearheaded this trail and worked long hard hours for this project to become completed.

George has been a member of the Toby Creek Watershed Association for many years and the Archaeology Chapter 29. He has also been an active member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and is a lifetime member of the United Bow hunters of America. His many interests include collecting Indian artifacts, fishing, hunting, arrowhead knapping (making arrowheads), pottery making, painting and throwing atlatl (an Indian weapon). He learned to throw atlatl while in Florida and brought the sport home for his grandchildren to try. He traveled around with his grandchildren, competed with the atlatl and has demonstrated the sport many times to different organizations and schools. George still continued to be an active hunter; in fact, he shot a ten-point buck with his crossbow at the age of 84 years old.

Of course, George is most proud of his family. He has been married to Lois for sixty-two years that, without her, he would not have been able to accomplish the things he has done while raising seven children. They are: Bruce, Gary, Susan, Sandy, Becky, David and Lisa. He also has nineteen grandchildren and sixteen great-grandchildren. He started taking his family camping at a very young age. Of course, starting out in a tent and then graduating to different size trailers, he and Lois continued camping for many years.

Their daughter Susan (DeSantis) recalls, “We were taught that there were rewards for hard work. There was always a big garden and Dad had acres of strawberries, which we helped pick to fill orders for people in town. We were not allowed to go to the swimming pool until we had all orders filled, and all the items on our list of chores crossed off. We laugh about it now, but we loathed it back then. There are so many wonderful memories. He has been the best Husband, Dad, Grandfather, teacher and friend to us all. For that we are grateful and so very proud of him.”

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