Our View: November 16 marks death of Willis MillerNovember 16 marks a somber day in the history of the Hudson Star-Observer. It was on that day one year ago that longtime publisher and historian Willis H. Miller died at Regions Hospital in St. Paul.
By: Editorial staff, Hudson Star-Observer
November 16 marks a somber day in the history of the Hudson Star-Observer. It was on that day one year ago that longtime publisher and historian Willis H. Miller died at Regions Hospital in St. Paul. He had suffered a stroke two days earlier.
As expected, life at the Star-Observer has never been the same – and never will be for that matter. We staffers still have to catch ourselves as we regularly wonder aloud if Willis would know the answer to our questions regarding newspapering and local history.
Life could be so much simpler if Willis were still in our office each morning!
Despite the daily reminders that we miss Willis each and every day, the year has gone by remarkably quick in many respects. It seems like only yesterday that Willis was making his way to Dibbo’s for breakfast each morning and came back with a good news tip – or at the very least, a good story or joke.
For those who are new to town, Willis Miller worked at the Star-Observer most of his 89 years on earth and was publisher/principal owner from 1958 to 1984. In all, he spent 68 years in one capacity or another at the Star-Observer.
In death, as in life, Miller was a generous man. Many readers saw recently that Miller left $1,068,552 to UW-River Falls. The gift was the largest individual gift in the school’s 135-year history. 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.
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 – those characteristics carried over into his death. The gift to UW-River Falls reflects Miller’s philanthropic nature and his interest in encouraging young people. He also left funds for many local groups, but clearly his interest in giving young people a lift was his first priority.
Somehow the Hudson Star-Observer has managed to get through the past year in the absence of Willis H. Miller. We think it is because he was also a good teacher – he taught our staff lessons on operating a successful newspaper. When a guy works for the same company for 68 years, some of his brilliance is bound to rub off! As they say, if you throw enough mud against the wall, some of it’s going to stick.
It sure would be nice, and much easier, if we could run into Willis’ office each day with our questions and concerns. The good news is, he led by example and it is clear that some of his knowledge has rubbed off onto the rest of us.
So now we enter year two without the wisdom and expertise of Willis H. Miller. As we look at his photos still hanging in the office it gives us a sense of comfort – he clearly still has an influence over our staff and the way we operate the newspaper. That’s a good thing!