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.