Remembering Dick Miller, a Chautauqua Giant
As some of you are aware by now, Chautauqua lost one of the most valued leaders in its history on Sept. 18, 2021. His funeral services will be held in Wisconsin on Monday. Dick Miller served as a Trustee of Chautauqua from 1966 to 1981, as Chair of the Board of Trustees from 1970 to 1978, and as President of the Chautauqua Foundation from 1971 to 1996. When Dick came onto the Board of Trustees by all accounts Chautauqua was in a period of decline and financial vulnerability. During his tenure, new executive leadership was put into place, Chautauqua received a challenge grant representing at that time the largest gift ever received by the Institution, and a dedicated recommitment to the mission of the Institution was undertaken. As head of the Foundation, Dick led a disciplined and vitally needed effort to build the fundraising capacity of Chautauqua that has resulted in five successful major campaigns since 1985.
On a very personal level, Dick served as a lighthouse for me in my Presidency, helping me understand Chautauqua’s history, pointing out how our strategic plan was a continuation of previously held conversations, and how we might honor our traditions while also building a new and different future in service of Chautauqua. In so many ways, that was his story: honoring while pushing. He wasn’t afraid to “beat me upside the head” when he thought I was wrong, and he also would remind me in difficult times that change is hard for any human being and that my job was to stay the course. I will miss that wise and serious counsel, especially because I never doubted it was always shared out of love for Chautauqua.
Our condolences go out to Dick’s wife Miriam Reading, his children Cindi and Rich, and the entire extended Miller family. We have truly lost a giant, and I know he will join the ranks of our greatest heroes at Chautauqua. Please find here a more fulsome accounting of this great man’s remarkable life.
All my best,
Michael E. Hill
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