Marching arts pioneer and businessman Fred J. Miller passed away on Aug. 3, 2012, at the age of 80. A resident of Centerville, Ohio, Miller was founder and chairman of his self-titled company, known for designing and manufacturing color guard and band uniforms.
“He was the type of guy that always had a smile on his face and found the good in everything,” says his son Mark Miller. “His whole life was dedicated to educating young people and promoting music, color guard and marching band and all aspects of the performance pageantry. He lived life every day like that.”
Miller attended the University of Dayton and became the director of bands at Fairborn (Ohio) High School from 1957 to 1968, followed by a position as music supervisor for the district. He was a founding member of the United States Twirling Association and founder of the Miller’s Blackhawks Twirling Corps, which won national championships every year from 1956 through 1968, a record that remains unmatched. The driving force in bringing Winter Guard International to his hometown of Dayton, Ohio, Miller also served as treasurer for many years and was inducted into the WGI Hall of Fame in 1995.
“Someone said to me, ‘Your family’s business is really the American dream,’” Mark says. “It started in the basement of our house, and now we have 125 employees and manufacture band and color guard uniforms nationally and internationally. It has gone beyond what he even thought it would be.”
The family-owned business expects a seamless transition as Mark has been running the company together with his mother and two siblings for many years already.
In memoriam, the family has established the “Fred J. Miller Memorial Music Education Fund.”
“That is still a work in process, but it’s going to be used to give to an individual or individuals who are going into the music field in regards to higher education,” Mark says. Fred J. Miller is survived by his wife, Marlene, his three children and eight grandchildren.
“He was just a great man and everybody’s best friend, and we’ve just got to make him proud now, continue and move forward,” Mark says.