Jim Miller was a leader. When he was a young prisoner of war during WW II, he led other POW’s in song as they were marched from place to place, inspiring them and providing a reason to go on. When he was a BHS quartet singer, he was a lead who took two quartets to district championships and on to International rankings, entertaining thousands in the process. When he was a football coach, he developed Howard Schnellenberger and Paul Hornung, both of who were instrumental in shaping the way the game is played today. When he was a chorus director, he led two different chapters, The Louisville Thoroughbred Chorus (CAR, 1963-1985) and Cincinnati’s Southern Gateway Chorus (CAR, 1986, 1990-1995), to a total of seven gold medals at International competition.
Whether it was his infectious grin, his twinkling eyes or his “Just call me Jim” attitude, Jim Miller was the epitome of an inspirational teacher and leader, always bringing out the best from his members. Jim had it. It was in his heart. There are those who walked in his shadow and hoped to be like him, but there will only be one Jim Miller. Seeing him direct was always exciting and mesmerizing, like watching lightening explode in a bottle. Then at the end of the performance, he would turn to the audience just before the applause would start to erupt. And there it was. Jim’s beaming smile. So sincere. So exciting. He loved directing, he loved performing and he wanted you to love it just as much as he did.
As the lead in The Citations and the Derbytowners, Jim was smooth as silk. What a showman! Whether he was singing a ballad or an uptune, nothing was sung by chance. He sang with every inch of his heart.
To Jim, barbershop was a family affair. His children sang barbershop, his grandchildren sang barbershop and even his son-in-law and grandson-in-law are barbershoppers! In addition to his wife of 66 years, Rosemary, Jim is survived by three generations of barbershoppers in the Hawkins, Crutcher, and Wheaton families. Jim’s daughters, Donna Crutcher and Kathleen Hawkins, have followed in his footsteps as Miller Photography, which has served as the official photographer for Society’s conventions for decades.
Jim’s family desires to see an endowed scholarship for directors to attend Directors College at Harmony University in Jim’s name as a fitting tribute to the legacy he has left us all. Members and non-members alike may make donations in Jim Miller’s name to Harmony Foundation’s memorial program, Keep a Melody Ringing, to ensure this scholarship is funded. In memory of Jim Miller, it’s our turn to be leaders in finding the next legend of the Society by funding this scholarship. Make your gift now at www.harmonyfoundation.org.