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BPC mourns loss of former president Miller
A memorial service for Dr. William Starr Miller, president emeritus of Brewton-Parker College, was conducted on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2006, in Saliba Chapel on the Brewton-Parker campus in Mount Vernon.
A graveside funeral service preceded the memorial service that morning at Eastside Cemetery in Statesboro.
Miller, who served two terms as president of Brewton-Parker College, died Thursday, January 26, 2006, in Vidalia after a brief illness.
Miller, who oversaw the formation of Brewton-Parker’s first bachelor’s degree program, was 84. He was a well-known educator with 38 years of experience, most of which was gained in higher education.
“Dr. Starr Miller worked tirelessly to help Brewton-Parker College establish a center for higher education in Newnan, Ga., where he and his wife, Luine, lived,” said Dr. David R. Smith, Brewton-Parker’s president. “His reputation as a renowned educator, committed Baptist layperson and strong advocate for Brewton-Parker College made him a valued and recognized leader in our state.
“The Brewton-Parker College family will miss this fine man. We offer our deepest condolences to his family and pledge our prayerful encouragement to all those affected by Dr. Miller’s transition from this world to the next.”
At a special called meeting of the Board of Trustees on May 3, 1979, Starr Miller was elected the 12th president of Brewton-Parker College by unanimous vote. He served until 1983 and returned as interim president from 1997-98.
William Starr Miller was born June 23, 1921, in Plainville, Gordon County, Ga., the son of Charles Leander Miller and Bessie Druzilla Miller. He was named for both of his grandfathers, William “Bill” Miller and William “Bud” Miller, and for Dr. Starr, the physician who delivered him.
After graduating from Plainville High School, he attended junior college at West Georgia College, from which he received a normal diploma in 1940. Miller taught in Gordon County schools in Plainville and Sugar Valley from 1941 to 1943, and, following military service during World War II, enrolled at the University of Georgia, where he was awarded both the bachelor of science and master of science degrees in education during the summer of 1947.
From 1947 to 1949 Miller served as assistant to the president and instructor at Young Harris College. His next position was dean of Tift College in Forsyth from 1951 to 1961. In 1953 Miller received his doctor of education degree from Duke University, and married Sarah Fallin of Thomaston.
Their union produced two children, Melanie, born March 22, 1956, and Charles Starr, born September 11, 1958. The loving marriage lasted until Mrs. Miller’s death in 1980. He later wed Luine Wilson Baxter in 1987.
While at Tift, Miller was granted a one-year leave to direct a study of Faculty Development in Small Colleges through the Southern Regional Education Board in Atlanta. Following the publication of this study, Miller accepted a position with Georgia Southern College as director of education. After the college was divided into academic schools, his title was changed to dean of the School of Education. He remained in this position from 1961 to 1979.
Miller assumed his duties as president of Brewton-Parker on July 1, 1979. At graduation exercises on June 7, 1980, Miller was officially installed as president during a special ceremony.
At that time, Miller requested that the trustees consider revisiting the idea of constructing a fine arts building, a concept that had been proposed during the previous administration. He recommended that an ad hoc committee be formed to study the need for such a facility and the possible funding.
However, the college grieved the loss of Mrs. Sarah Fallin Miller, wife of the president, who died Sept. 21, 1980. Shortly after Mrs. Miller’s death, the Fine Arts Building ad hoc committee determined that a facility to house the Music department would be the most feasible way to meet the pressing need.
Just before the spring quarter of 1981, Dr. Miller contacted his son-in-law, Steve Stokes, a former Brewton-Parker student then serving as minister of education and youth in a Baptist church, to come to Brewton-Parker as director of Campus Life for one quarter, and remained in the position for 18 months.
Steve and Melanie Stokes served as resident directors in what is now LeRoy Hall. Today, Melanie Stokes serves as assistant secretary on the Brewton-Parker Board of Trustees. They currently live in Ludowici.
Miller’s two grandsons, Mark and Luke Stokes, both received their baccalaureate degrees from Brewton-Parker, and Mark Stokes is an instructor of Drama at the college.
In March 1981, the college announced that the first student to attend courses through the Tift College program was graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Music.
By January 1982, the college was nearing its goal of $400,000 for the music building. Groundbreaking ceremonies were on Nov. 23 of that year, and construction on the new facility began. Upon its dedication in 1984, it was named the Miller Music Building for Starr and Sarah Miller.
At the regular meeting of the board of trustees held June 5, 1982, the subject of developing a bachelor of ministry degree offered directly by Brewton-Parker was introduced. That fall, the college announced that it would begin offering courses leading to the B.Min. in January 1983.
As the bachelor of ministry program was launched in the winter quarter 1983, Miller made a request of the trustees to relieve him of the duties as president of the school and allow him to continue to serve the school as coordinator of the Bachelor of Ministry degree for one year.
Following the term of Dr. Y. Lynn Holmes as Brewton-Parker’s president from 1983-97, Miller returned to the college as its interim president until Dr. David R. Smith was hired in 1998, and later that year the trustees bestowed the honor of president emeritus upon Miller.
While living in Newnan, Miller was instrumental in helping to open a Brewton-Parker educational extension center by serving as the executive secretary of a nonprofit group serving education in the Newnan/Coweta County area known as the Commission for Higher Education.
The commission raised and provided “start-up” funds to meet college needs in buildings, facilities, supplies and promotion. Brewton-Parker’s Newnan Center opened in January 2004 and received approval from its national accreditation agency to offer two degree programs in early 2005.
On Jan. 19, the Brewton-Parker Board of Trustees approved a resolution that praised Miller “for his assistance in the establishment and development of the Newnan Center.”
“In recent months the administration, with the assistance of Dr. Starr Miller, has begun to explore possibilities for additional courses and programs that might be of service to the community,” the resolution read. “There seems to be significant potential for the development of the Newnan Center.”
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested memorial tributes be sent to: Brewton-Parker College, Mt. Vernon, Ga., 30445, designated for the Newnan Center or the Miller Music Building Expansion Project.