PAOLA — The Panther Family lost one of its own with the passing of former coach, teacher and hall-of-famer Fred Miller.
Miller, 80, died after a long bout with cancer.
He was a pioneer in sports at Paola High School, starting the physical education program at the old South School and the Lady Panther basketball program.
Miller graduated from Independence High School, Kan. and Pittsburg State University. Miller began his career teaching physical education in Overland Park. He taught physical education at the South School in Paola, moved to Paola Middle School where he taught industrial arts and concluded his career teaching physical education and health at Paola High School.
Miller and his wife Jennie lived on the same farm for 53 years. The couple were married Dec. 22, 1963.
He was a member of the First Baptist Church, serving as a deacon, a trustee, an usher and a greeter.
In addition to girls basketball, Miller coached freshman football, golf and softball in the summer. He retired from Paola USD 368 in 1998. Miller was a teacher and coach for 34 years.
One of the highlights of his coaching career was having the opportunity to coach both of his daughters: Regan (Miller) Crow and Rachel (Miller) McCraley. Crow lives in Ashland, Mo. McCraley lives in Independence, Mo.
Regan (Miller) Crow, like her father, was inducted into the Paola High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Coach Miller led the Paola Lady Panther basketball team to the state tournament twice, including a fourth-place finish and a season record of 21-3.
Miller remained active in the community, volunteering his time with the Fair Board the Extension Council, the Farm Bureau Board and the Miami County Fire Board.
Miller was a Township Trustee, a member of the Stanton Cemetery Board, a member of the foundation board for the Kansas Association of Retired School Personnel as well as the East Central Association of Retired School Personnel.
He was also known for his pigeons and doves. Miller was a member of the State Line Flyers Pigeon Club from 2003 to 2017. He won the National President’s Cup Award in 2007 in recognition of outstanding performance, having the eighth-fastest bird in the nation. Miller loved releasing his doves at weddings, funerals, the Miami County Fair Rodeo and the Miami County Relay for Life.