Anton J. MillerSeptember 26, 1931 ~ June 27, 2017 (age 85)
A Gentleman and Scholar
Anton Jerome Miller, with fist of a warrior raised in a gesture of “onward”, died June 27, 2017 at the Wisconsin Veterans Home in King, WI of Parkinson’s related decline.
Tony was the son of Matilda Burger and Martin Miller, immigrants from German-Russian Ukraine. A first generation American, he was born September 26, 1931 on the farm in Hirschville ND. He was the tenth of 11 children in a single-parent German-speaking household during the Depression. An early childhood chore was to sit on chickens and slit their throats. He grew up watching dust bowl storms and sleeping behind the wood stove. His older siblings cared for him and worked off-farm to send money home rather than attend school.
As a result, Tony was the first in his family to attend Junior High and then high school. At 18, before graduation, he enlisted in the National Guard and was sent to the Korean front line. He served a distinguished career as a mine walker, munitions specialist, Sergeant and recipient both of the Bronze Star twice and the United Nations Service Metal. He proudly brought all his men home safely from the front line. In his twenties he was a logger, airplane pilot, truck driver, and high steel worker. A natural on the dance floor he dreamed of being a dancer; but boxing was the next best thing. In 1957, he became the Golden Gloves Boxing Champion of ND by practicing on all his older brothers. He then went to college on the GI Bill where he studied history with Edward Blackorby and was active in theatre and debate at UW Eau Claire.
After college, he taught high school history, sociology, and economics in Chippewa Falls and Sun Prairie, WI. He helped to start the Wisconsin State Teacher’s Union where he ultimately negotiated contracts ensuring pay equity, health care, and many other critical safeguards for teachers. He worked tirelessly for civil rights and economic justice through candidate politics and nonviolent action. He taught us to treat each other as human beings, first and foremost. He taught us that the world isn’t always fair, but that everyone has it in their power to make it better. He was a poet, and showed gratitude for beauty in all its forms. He never shied away from a fight.
The Black Rose
The gift of the rose is the gift of life, of peace, of love.
A Vietnam generation ago the symbol was the dove.
For then it was said “The rose of red was better dead.”
The thorn of the rose became the barb of wire.
Another generation under fire.
Today we celebrate the day for the Rose of Black, the rose of King.
For those of us to his message cling.
We are saddened by the irony of his gentle cry.
War is back. Our brothers and sisters die for oil so black.
Like thee we search for psalms to sing. We dream with you, Martin Luther King.
----Anton Miller 1/21/91
He loved words and understood their power and magic. His quick wit and bad puns remained until the end. At 80 he began his boxing training afresh with help of the Bob Lynch Boxing Foundation, and started a boxing club at his home at King. He loved children. He specially loved fishing with his grandkids and watching them dance.
In 1958 he married Lorna Clancy of Valley City ND and, tho divorced, they remained lifelong friends.
Tony is survived by his daughters, Michelle Miller (Bob Stone) and grandson Sean Stone of Madison, Renee Knight (James Knight) of Madison and grandchildren Xia Magnus of Los Angeles CA, ErynDae Thorvaldsen of Bellingham WA, and Anastasia Knight of NY, NY. Sibling survivors are Paul Miller of St.Paul MN, Eva Redding of Omaha NE, and Francis Yeager of Dickinson ND. His son Sean Clancy Miller, wife Lorna, parents and siblings; Anna Maria, Joseph, Julius, Rose, Martin, Matilda, and Christian precede him in death.
Maple Crest Funeral Home in Waupaca is assisting the family with arrangements. The family is planning a memorial service in Dickinson ND at time of interment. We wish to extend or deepest gratitude for the excellent nursing care given by AFSME Union Local 555 at the VA Home at King. Our experience was one of great care and friendship. Thank you. In celebration of his life please give more time to good humor and a donation of time or money to the social justice organization of your choice.
“If you want Pie in the Sky, bring a long fork” love, Tony.