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Northwest Missouri State University

News Release

June 2, 2011

Leon Miller, Northwest’s first graduate dean, passes away

Dr. Leon Miller

Dr. Leon Miller

MARYVILLE, Mo. - Dr. Leon Miller, who led the development of Northwest Missouri State University's first graduate programs and served in several prominent roles during a career that spanned 35 years at the University, died in Springfield Saturday, May 28.

Miller would have turned 92 today.

At Northwest, Miller was chair of the Division of Education and Psychology and director of the Horace Mann Laboratory School from 1950 to 1960. He was dean of instruction from 1960 to 1969. In 1969 he became the University's first graduate dean and served in the role until his retirement in 1985.  

For most of his career at Northwest, Miller coordinated campus accreditation reports. He also chaired the Little White House Conference on Children and Youth and was chapter president of the American Association of University Professors.

He received the Distinguished Educational Service Award from Phi Delta Kappa, a professional educational fraternity, in 1982. Northwest also honored him that year with the title of distinguished professor.

Born in Springfield, Miller lived in Maryville for 60 years and became known for his extensive civic involvement. He was involved with the Lions Club, American Legion and the Nodaway County Board for United Way. He served as a Red Cross volunteer, directed state oratorical contests, chaired the local boys state selection committee, and organized Memorial Day and Veterans Day celebrations.

Miller was an honor graduate of Southwest Missouri State Teachers College, now Missouri State University, in 1940, majoring in history and English. In 1985, he was inducted into the university's athletic hall of fame for his three MIAA doubles tennis conference championships in college.

He earned his master's degree and doctorate in education at the University of Chicago.

He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Mary Belle Harmon Miller, and a daughter, Carol J. Miller. His younger daughter, Gayle Miller Bilden, a graduate of Northwest, died in a car accident in 1979.

Memorials to honor Miller may be sent to the Northwest Missouri State University Foundation for the Leon F. Miller Graduate Grant Award, to the Lions Eye Tissue Bank, to the Missouri State American Legion Oratorical Program or to Hope Lutheran Church.

A visitation for Miller will be 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 3, at Price Funeral Home. A service will be Saturday, June 4, at Hope Lutheran Church in Maryville, with burial afterward in Nodaway Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Maryville.  

For a complete obituary in the Maryville Daily Forum, click here.

For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468