Raymond Miller was born November 18, 1929 to Maude (Neck) and Roy Miller in the rolling hills of Prairie Farm, Wisconsin into his life of faith, family, and agriculture.
He graduated from Prairie Farm High School in 1947, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in science and agricultural education from the State Teachers College in River Falls in 1951.
That autumn Raymond became “Mr. Miller,” the ag teacher to future generations of agricultural students, FFA members, and student teachers - in Oconto Falls and then for nearly 40 more years in Bloomer. In likeness to Aldo Leopold, he taught stewardship of the land at the heart of production agriculture. He introduced a new course, Field Conservation, which garnered the top award in the nation in “Building Our American Communities.” He welcomed women into the FFA and advised the first woman state FFA officer in Wisconsin, his daughter, Becky. He was stationed by the “owl” as FFA advisor; why by the owl? The owl is a time honored emblem of knowledge and wisdom. Being older than the rest of us, Mr. Miller was called upon from time to time to advise us. It was his hope that his advice was always based on true knowledge and ripened with wisdom.
Your lives touched Mr. Miller, perhaps as his student, or one of 55 student teachers he supervised. Perhaps as a member of the Master Farmers, or the Bloomer Park Board, or at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church. In his professional sojourn, Mr. Miller earned his master’s degree from UW-River Falls, and was humbly proud to receive the Honorary American Farmer Degree, the Outstanding Teacher of Vocational Agriculture award (one of four in the nation) in 1989, and to be inducted into the Wisconsin FFA Hall of Fame in 1999.
Today the autumn leaves have fallen and the trees throughout Bloomer whisper, “he is gone,” and the Tree City USA flag in Willis Park floats in the breeze, honoring Ray’s vision of canopied streets with maples, oaks, ashes, and numerous other species. Dutch elm disease was an ending and a beginning in Bloomer, as Mr. Miller, city forester for over 25 years, planted over 2600 shade trees.
Ray met his wife, Gloria, in the library at River Falls, and they were married in 1951. He is survived by Gloria, and three children, Becky (Nate) Splett, Brock, and Brett; and his special grandson, Shane, whom they raised; granddaughters, Natasha and Chanel; also his sister, Eleanor Harstad. He was preceded in death by his parents, and brothers, Kenneth, Merlin, and Ralph, his sister, Elaine, and nephew, Bob.
This past Sunday, November 12, St. Peter experienced Mr. Miller’s firm and strong handshake, that we are all familiar with, as he went to be with the Lord. We share, for Raymond, the same last scripture as was his father’s, from II Timothy 4:6-8 “… the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Hence forth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.”
Visitation will be Friday, November 17, from 4:00-8:00 at the Olson Funeral Home in Bloomer. The funeral service will be Saturday, November 18, at 11:00 at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Bloomer.