Miller must have been born laughing. Knowing him and spending time
around him was always so much fun. With his unique sense of humor,
he invariably saw the hilarious side of virtually any situation.
To be with Leo was to laugh. A lot.
because of this tendency to chuckle when others were frowning, Leo
wrote two books and began this third one in his final years.
Intending the books primarily as entertainment for his own family
and his close friends, he set about in the first one to recount
humorous anecdotes out of his own childhood in rural Iowa and
then, in the second book, to recall amusing tales of his 60-plus
years of service as a lay preacher in a band of congregations in
southern Indiana and the surrounding area.
found a receptive audience for his first two volumes, Leo set
about to write a third series of mainly comic reflections on his
years as a professor and later as an administrator in the school
that has come to be known and respected as the University of
Indianapolis. As in his first two books, his main aim in his
essays was to chuckle one more time as he shared memories of
people and events during his colorful tenure at the school.
last few months, Leo began mailing me copies of these essays,
wanting me to reassure him that what he had written would not come
across as disrespect or disdain for any of the characters in the
tales. So I had seen most of these brief pieces before Leo’s
sudden illness and death. Shortly after his funeral, his dear wife
Alberta asked me if I would assume an editorial role on this final
book, and, loving both them as I do, I could only say Yes to her
result, as you will see, is not at all the book Leo planned to
write. It does include his delightful essays, as you would expect,
but it pays tribute to him in a way that would have made his
modest soul uncomfortable. And in a small way it recaps the
history of his 34 years at U of I, a time when the school was
morphing from a tiny, almost unknown institution lost on the
fringes of the city into an educational center that touches all
levels of leadership in the city and the state. As this book will
document, Leo Miller had a lot to do with helping to re-invent the
school in its present mature role.
spice to Leo’s brief essays, we have included reflections from
Alberta, so it would be accurate to list her as a co-author of
this volume. Several months ago she wrote me saying, “I
have been thinking a lot about Leo’s third book and wondering if I
have anything worthwhile to put into it. When I can’t sleep at
night, I get up and write down things that might go into the book.
Then I go back through the files and wonder anew if what I have
written has any value.” I think you will agree with me that her
reflections add a valuable dimension to the finished work. “In
this volume about our university years,” she explains, “I have
jotted down rough drafts of stories that highlight certain people
and events that were most meaningful during that span of years.”
Alberta’s request, the book also contains a tribute to Leo from
former student and generous school donor Don Ray, now retired in
Florida. Alberta also insisted that I include the eulogy I offered
to Leo at his funeral service.
who have known both Leo and the school may find that the choice
photos sprinkled throughout the book communicate the strongest
message of all. We hope this volume will be a meaningful keepsake
for those whose dreams and dollars are invested in the University
special gratitude to Dr. Gene E. Sease, former U of I president
and Leo’s boss in his last years of employment, for his aid in
finding some of the best photos and in helping us clean up some
minor inaccuracies that had crept into the manuscript.
Noot, Director of Publications at U of I, and university archivist
Christine H. Guyonneau responded quickly and graciously to our
search for some of the most historic photographs, and Alberta’s
present neighbor Wes Charpie readily contributed his expertise and
his quality equipment both to take some of the more current
pictures and to scan special ones out of the Millers’ archives.
Don Cushman, on staff at Indiana Central before his next life as a
park ranger, graciously allowed us to use his portrait photo of
Leo on the cover of the book.
Allen Ketchersid, a mutual
friend of the Millers and me, and owner of Ketch Publishing in
Bloomington, Indiana, assisted greatly in the final assembly of
the book. Another mutual friend, professional book cover producer
Tom Williams contributed his expert services in designing the
exquisite book cover.
personal thanks to all who helped on this labor of love.