Our View: Miller gift to UW-RF reflects his lifeFormer Star-Observer Publisher Willis H. Miller impacted many people during his 89 years of life. With his $1 million-plus estate gift to UW-River Falls, he will continue to impact lives into perpetuity.
By: Editorial staff, Hudson Star-Observer
Former Star-Observer Publisher Willis H. Miller impacted many people during his 89 years of life. With his $1 million-plus estate gift to UW-River Falls, he will continue to impact lives into perpetuity.
It was announced last week that Miller, who died Nov. 16, 2008, left $1,068,552 to UW-River Falls. The gift was the largest individual gift in the school’s 135-year history.
Many often kidded Willis about his frugal nature, but when it came to helping people he always was reaching into his wallet. Generosity and a positive attitude were his hallmark. He gave people money, he lent people money (often not repaid), he encouraged people and he always found the good qualities in everyone.
The gift reflects Miller’s giving nature and his interest in encouraging young people. The scholarship money is a perfect legacy to the man who gave so much of himself during his life. With his gift to UW-River Falls Miller’s giving nature will continue forever.
The money will be used to establish endowed scholarships, giving preference to students from Hudson, North Hudson and their surrounding towns – Hudson, St. Joseph and Troy.
With the size of the Miller gift, around $40,000 a year – each and every year in the future – will be divided among selected students from the Hudson area who attend UW-River Falls.
The exact dollar value and the number of scholarships have not yet been determined.
UW-RF Chancellor Dean Van Galen was very appreciative of the gift, calling it “an act of amazing generosity.”
Van Galen said the magnitude of the gift is tremendous.
“The impact on students will last for many years to come, living on into perpetuity,” Van Galen said.
It is interesting that Miller studied to be a teacher, but was lured to the newspaper business for the grand sum of $11 a week in 1940. Miller, however, never forgot his “teaching” roots. He valued education.
Bob McGrew, personal representative of the Miller estate, said Miller “had a passion for the newspaper, history, travel and education. I’m not sure what was on the top of the list, but based on his gift, education must have been pretty high.”
Helping people was Willis’ first priority in life. With his gift to UW-River Falls, that characteristic and the Miller name will continue to live on forever.