Meadville Tribune

September 22, 2013

William L. Miller

Meadville Tribune

LINESVILLE — William L. Miller of Linesville died at home on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013, after an extended battle with lung and brain cancer.

Born in Meadville to Austin P. Miller Sr. and Dorothy Yarian Miller on March 19, 1937, Bill lived with his family on a farm near Masury, Ohio, until 1945, when the family bought a farm between Harmonsburg and Linesville. Always a hard worker, he had his own tractor at age 8 and worked the fields with his father and older brother, Austin P. Miller Jr. They raised dairy cattle, hogs and chickens, and his mother kept a large garden. 

He attended Summit Elementary in Harmonsburg and was a member of the first graduating class of the new Linesville High School in 1955.

Following graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served in the First and Second Marine divisions. During his four-year enlistment, he rose to the rank of sergeant as an infantry rifleman and wireman. He served at home, in the Caribbean, and in the Pacific: at Parris Island, S.C.; Camp Geiger, N.C.; Twenty-Nine Palms, Calif.; Quantico, Va.; Villegas, Puerto Rico; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Okinawa, Japan; and various locations in the Philippines. He especially liked his time in Puerto Rico and the Philippines.

In 1958, he married (Edna) Gyla Short of Sharon, barely returning from the Philippines in time for the ceremony. Because he had just been promoted to corporal, there was no opportunity to update his dress blues to include the new chevron and blood stripe.

Upon honorable discharge from the service in 1959, he returned to the farm where he grew up. In addition to farming, he worked in construction and for the game commission before taking a position as a lineman for the phone company. He remained with the phone company until his retirement in 1997, mostly as a lineman, but also in engineering and supply. He found joy in his grandchildren and hunting, in the family farm, in history and his faith, in welding and fabrication, and for several years as a private pilot, ultimately taking off and landing his ultralight plane in the front yard.

He was preceded in death by a daughter, Dorothy (Dorrie) Theresa (1967), and his parents, Austin and Dorothy Miller.

He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Gyla Short Miller, who tirelessly attended to him and his treatments; a daughter, Julie Miller Piercy, her husband, Jason, and their children in whom he took great pride, Austin Lee and Robert William Piercy, of Midlothian, Texas; a son, William G. Miller of Boise, Idaho; and a brother, Austin P. Miller Jr. of Conneautville.

He was fiercely devoted to family. Though he and his wife lost their first daughter in a traffic accident, whenever asked, he always answered that he had three children, though decades have passed since the loss.

He was a humble man, but his family is not humble about him. He was always there. He was a good man, a good husband, a good father. He was a model of doubtless faith; a Marine to the end. He fought a terminal cancer prognosis tirelessly and never gave quarter, quietly beating the prognosis by months, and in the end, dying with a warrior’s grace. Semper fidelis.

Calling hours will be Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m. at Royal-Coleman Funeral Home, 6028 U.S. Route 6, Linesville.

The funeral will be held on Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the funeral home, with Pastor Terry Smith officiating.

Graveside service with military honors will follow in Evergreen Cemetery, Harmonsburg.

The family would like to extend a special thanks to Bill’s “Angels of Mercy”: Meg Larson, CRNP; Dr. Marianne Suprys; the Regional Cancer Center of Erie; VNA of Crawford County; and Hospice of Crawford County. 

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be contributed to the First Baptist Church of Linesville Building Fund, P.O. Box 387, Linesville, Pa. 16424; and Hospice of Crawford County, 464 Pine St., Meadville, Pa. 16335.

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