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Thomas Lee Miller, died peacefully at home on August 21, 2021 in Midland, MI surrounded by his family.  He was born on October 7, 1946 in Lansing, MI to the late Harris and Nettie (Rice) Miller.  On June 13, 1970 her married the love of his life Christine Sanger.

Tom received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in math from Central Michigan University. He was an outstanding athlete at CMU competing in gymnastics, swimming where he was a diver and in track/field. After two years he decided to compete only in track and field earning All American honors for pole vaulting in his senior year. He was so proud of this accomplishment and the banner bearing his name and image hangs from CMU field house rafters.

Tom spent his entire 30-year career with Midland Public Schools teaching math and physical education at Northeast Middle School and the last few years at H. H. Dow High School. During his tenure he coached boys and girls swimming at Midland High School and volleyball at Northeast Middle School. For many years he volunteered with track at Northeast, Midland High School and Dow High School including becoming a track official. Coaching boys and girls soccer at Dow High School starting in 1986 became a passion and continued for 10 years after he retired from teaching. Never having played soccer as a youth, he learned everything he could about this sport including playing in a local adult league. He compiled many winning seasons which led to earning numerous honors in the Saginaw Valley League. Tom was the first soccer coach inducted into the Michigan High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame. He is also in the Michigan High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Another honor was being inducted of the Midland County Sports Hall of Fame where members’ plaques are displayed at the Midland Dow Diamond Stadium. In 2020 he was inducted into the H H Dow High School Hall of Fame. Over the years since retiring many former players have shared what it meant to play soccer for Coach Miller. Qualities most often mentioned included integrity, the value of hard work whether you win or lose, treating everyone equally, and becoming the best person you can.

Family was Tom’s foremost priority and providing for them always came first. When he wasn’t in the classroom or on an athletic field, he challenged himself with a wide variety of household projects. Tom loved being active, volunteering at church, working in his yard to make it beautiful, or updating another area of his home. Once retired he began golfing and had more time for skiing. Helping to teach his grandchildren in Colorado to ski and play soccer thrilled him. He had a terrific smile, was always ready to lend a hand, and prided himself on teaching life lessons to his children, grandchildren and many athletes. Tom and his wife were avid travelers visiting 49 of 50 states and cruising the world was a favorite activity. Spending winters in Sarasota, FL provided the opportunity to make new friends.

He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Christine C (Sanger) Miller, son, Matthew T Miller of Midland, daughter, Erika (Jeremiah) DeBell, grandchildren Addie and JT of Highlands Ranch, CO, sister-in-law Monica Sanger and mother-in-law Anita Sanger, both of Midland. He was predeceased by parents Harris K Miller, Nettie E (Rice) Miller and sister Roxanne R Miller.

A memorial service will be held at 1:30 on Saturday, September 25, 2021 at First United Methodist of Midland with Rev. Anita K. Hahn and Rev. Dr.  J.D. Landis officiating.  Friends may visit with the family at Smith-Miner Funeral Home on Friday, September 24, 2021 from 4-7 pm and on Saturday at the church from 12:30 pm until the time of service.

Those planning an expression of sympathy are asked to consider First United Methodist Church.

Smith-Miner Funeral Home is honored to be serving the Miller family; to share a special memory please visit www.smithminer.com.

Condolence Messages

  1. Michael Wolf, Dow High Class of 89

    01 September 2021 2 weeks ago

    I had the honor of being coached by Tom Miller, at at a time I was also undergoing chemotherapy for treatment for an aggressive pediatric cancer diagnosis. I played for Dow High, thanks to his support. It often requires a time of reflection, especially for teenage years, to appreciate the help you receive – minus the attitude you carry at that time. Tom gave me opportunity…in an amazing manner when I really, really needed it. 30+ years on, I still think of him and am grateful for the help he gave me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  2. Darlene McLean Gilbert

    24 August 2021 3 weeks ago

    Christine and family, I am so sorry to learn of Tom’s passing. My deepest sympathy to you. Cherish all the wonderful memories that you and Tom shared.

  3. Angela Hernden

    24 August 2021 3 weeks ago

    Dear Christine & Family.
    Please know you are all in my thoughts and prayers. Tom was a remarkable guy and one that made this world better for being in it. Christine I know your hurting now but treasure the memories, smiles, laughter and remember he’s no longer in pain. My heart is with you and I’m here for you anytime. ❤️❤️

  4. Janet R Caldwell

    24 August 2021 3 weeks ago

    Tom set a “high bar” and did it through example as an educator, husband and family man, and athlete. His smile was infectious, and I know he will be forever missed. My sincere sympathy to Christine and his whole family!

  5. Molly Harrigan-Huff

    24 August 2021 3 weeks ago

    Sending much love to the Miller family during this time of loss. Coach Miller was my first swim coach at Midland High School. He was a kind, supportive and energetic coach. Can still see him on the deck of the pool encouraging and cheering me on during my 500 swim. He instilled in me what it meant to be a strong competitor, the goals, the values, the humility, the will to give it my best. 40+ years later I’m still swimming on a Masters team. I will carry his memory in each of my swims. Fly Free Coach 💖
    Molly Harrigan-Huff

  6. Lois Niethammer

    23 August 2021 4 weeks ago

    What a beautiful tribute! He was truly was an amazing person. Sending thoughts and prayers to the family.

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