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David M. Miller

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David M. Miller Obituary
David M. Miller Sept. 5, 1934-May 6, 2014

David M. Miller, Prof. Emeritus of English, Purdue University, died Tuesday in Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, Tidewell Hospice Care, after a courageous battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife, Joanne (Ervin) Miller; two sons by his first wife, Nancy (Templeton) (deceased): D. Garth Miller (Grace Ju), Marion, IN and Dain C. Miller (Laura Becker), Greensboro NC; stepdaughters Tanya (Versluis) Reed (Erik), Shelton, WA, and Andrea (Versluis) Love (Joe), Livermore, CA; sister Elizabeth Williams, Elysian, MN; 10 grandchildren (ages 22-2); and 15 nephews and nieces.

Prof. Miller was preceded in death by his parents, Richard and Merle (King) Miller; brothers Joseph and Donald; and youngest son Erik J. Miller, USF English honor student, formerly of Lafayette, IN.

Born Sept. 5, 1934, in Citronelle, AL, David moved to Elysian, MN at age 9, graduated Waterville High School in '52, and served in the U.S. Army from '54-'56 (stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, where he pitched baseball as he had in high school, and played tuba in the 7th Army Band). He earned B.A. ('58) and M.A. ('61) from Univ. of MN, and Ph.D. from Univ. of CA, Davis ('66). After teaching jr. and sr. high school in the Minneapolis area, he was an instructor at Mankato (MN) State Univ. ('64-'66). David taught at Purdue Univ. in West Lafayette, IN from'66-'98, when he retired to Sarasota.

While at Purdue, David won numerous Outstanding Teacher awards from the Dept. of English; in '78, '84 and '85 he received the Excellence in Teaching award from the School of Humanities, Social Science, and Education. David served as Director of Graduate Studies in English '86-'89, and as Associate Dean of the Graduate School, '89-92.

During the summers, David ran "Miller Enterprises" by day, a home repair, remodeling, and roofing business, hiring his grad students so they (and he) had extra income. In the evenings, the students and other young English Dept. faculty played slow-pitch softball, the only academics in an otherwise blue collar league. The senior team member, David pitched.

Miller's teaching, though focused in the British Renaissance, particularly the works of poet John Milton, later expanded to the Bible as Literature, Fantasy and Science Fiction, J.R.R. Tolkien, Frank Herbert ("Dune"), and Literary Theory. His published works include "The Net of Hephaestus: Modern Criticism and Metaphysical Metaphor," "John Milton: Poetry," "Frank Herbert," and many articles and conference papers on these and other related works. He appeared on a Sarasota Interfaith panel discussing the film "The Passion of the Christ" (Gibson) at Covenant Life Presbyterian Church ('04), and as a speaker at a public forum on faith and literature at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church ('05). In his final months, David was revising and editing his major work, "Realizing John; a Strenuous Reading of the Fourth Gospel."

Following his son Erik's death in Dec. 2008, David served as Adjunct Faculty ('09-'12) at USF-Sarasota Manatee, teaching Milton, The Bible as Literature, and Science Fiction. His Milton classes presented two public performances for campus audiences: a dramatic reading of "Samson Agonistes," and a tongue-in-cheek musical, "'Comus,' the Melodrama."

David's family extends sincere thanks to Sarasota Memorial 7th floor nursing staff who for 3 weeks took such excellent care of him. We also express our gratitude to the Tidewell Hospice staff at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center who cared for him so lovingly and gently during his final 2 weeks. Our special thanks to Dr. Phyllis Elsishans, David's primary care physician for many years; oncologist Dr. Fahdi Kayali; and his surgeon, Dr. Daniel Kaplon.

A Memorial Service is planned for Sat., May 17, 3 p.m., at Cornerstone Church of Lakewood Ranch. National Cremation Society is in charge of local arrangements. Inurnment in Elysian MN is planned for this summer.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in David's memory to TideWell Hospice of Sarasota, Cornerstone Church, or the Erik Miller Literary Criticism Writing Award at USF-SM. Donations may be sent c/o Joanne Miller, 3917 DeSoto Rd., Sarasota, FL, 34235.

Published in the Journal & Courier from May 10 to May 11, 2014
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