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Giles H. Miller

Giles H. Miller (1902/03-2005) was born in his parents' home in Lynchburg, Virginia, while Theodore Roosevelt was serving his first term as President of the United States. As a young man, not yet graduated from Lynchburg High School, he wanted to contribute to his community and serve his country. He went to the local recruiting station with two of his friends at the age of 15. Giles remembers the officer's reaction of seeing the three teenagers in his office, with intentions to enlist: The officer laughed and said, "Sergeant, three glasses of milk, please." Even Giles admitted, "We were just too young."

Giles entered Virginia Military Institute with the class 1924. During his cadetship he played basketball for VMI's team, then known as The Flying Squadron . The Flying Squadron won all of the nine games they played his freshman year. As a cadet, he also served on The Honor Court. The Honor Court is often perceived as one of the most unusual aspects of the Institute. He graduated in 1924 with a bachelor's degree in the liberal arts.

The first job Giles worked after graduating from VMI was as a draft clerk at a bank in Danville, Virginia. He worked there and then at another bank in Matoaca, West Virginia, before transferring to Orange, Virginia, in 1929. It was nearly a year later, in October, when he permanently settled down in the town of Culpeper, Virginia. During his 42 years at the Culpeper National Bank, Giles served as its president and also as a chairman on the its board. Later in his career, as his father before him, he presided as president of the Virginia Banker's Association in the 1950's.

Not long after arriving in Culpeper, Giles soon began working for the community. Giles, with the help of Winfree Fore and Verne Healey, recognized the need to increase jobs in their community. They recruited Rochester Ropes, a rope making company, to build a processing plant in their town. The plant brought essential jobs to the area, encouraging families to settle down, and quickened the construction of new houses there.

Giles began his work in politics prior to the outbreak of World War II. He spent 38 years serving on the town's council, including his 31 years as Vice Mayor of Culpeper. He also served within the Culpeper United Methodist Church, also dedicating himself as the leader of the Salvation Army's local organization. His only daughter, Mary Green, once commented: "He's given his life to serving and giving to the community." In appreciation of his services, the Culpeper Town Council decided to recognize August 2, his birthday, as "Giles Miller Day."

Forever a dedicated alumnus of VMI, he served the Institute with the same fervor he exhibited in other aspects of his life. He served both on the Institute's board of visitors and on the VMI Foundation board of trustees, receiving the latter's most recognized honor: the Distinguished Service Award. He also became President of the VMI Alumni Association and was the director of the George C. Marshall Research Foundation In 1986, he was given the Spirit Award by the board of governors of the Keydet Club, where he also served as president.

As a basketball player during college, he displayed his enthusiasm and support for VMI's sports teams. Until a few months before his passing, and for 25 years, Giles continued his dedication to VMI's athletics by attending the VMI Sports Hall of Fame Committee as one of its chairman. Mr. Gil Minor, the current President of the VMI Board of Visitors, offered a few thoughts concerning Giles' contribution to VMI sports teams upon his death:
"Giles Miller stood for everything that is good about VMI. His passion for the Institute manifested itself in many ways, but especially for VMI athletics. He set the example for all to follow. VMI has lost one of its most beloved leaders, but his contributions to VMI will live forever.

One thing Giles Miller did give VMI, above all recognition or noteworthy accomplishments, was a summary of what the "VMI Experience" actually is. He explained VMI as a stool with three legs: one leg being academic experience, another military bearing, and the last leg being physical fitness. Giles believed that these three aspects were an essential attribute of every model VMI cadet. There is now a scholarship set aside, in his memory, for the basketball player who best exhibits these qualities.

Because Giles contributed so much to the Institute, he was given the honorary title of "Mr. VMI," possessing all the qualities he so well defined. Colonel Tom Davis, a friend of Giles and also a professor at VMI, recalled what Giles once said to him: "The reason I [gave] so much to VMI is because VMI gave so much to me. I can never give back to the Institute as much as it gave to me."
In his last years, Giles spent his time at home writing letters of appreciation to the Hospice workers for their care. His granddaughter, Eleanor Green Long, said that what kept him going so long, despite his athleticism and genes, was the family found within his close circuit of friends. Giles H. Miller died October 4, 2005, as VMI's oldest living alumnus.

References

  • Arrington, Randy. "'Mr. Culpeper'" CulpeperCitizen.com. Accessed 30 January 2006 .
  • "GILES H. MILLER, JR. '24." Virginia Military Institute. 2006. Accessed 30 January 2006 .
  • "Giles H. Miller '24 Succumbs at 102." Virginia Military Institute Athletics. 5 October 2005 . Accessed 30 January 2006
  • "Honor System." Wikipedia: Virginia Military Institute. Accessed 30 January 2006 .

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