Tribute to William "Bill" O. Miller (1924-2008)

Tribute to William

Paying tribute to a former International President. 

By Bennie Bough, DTM, PIP

Toastmasters International mourns the loss of one of the organization’s longtime dedicated leaders: former International President William “Bill” O. Miller. In December, at the age of 84, Miller passed away from congestive heart failure. We remember him for his kindness and his strong belief in the Toastmasters experience.

A resident of Rockville, Maryland, Miller was elected International President at the 1982 International Convention and chose as his theme “Learn and Grow Through Participation.” It was at that same Convention that Toastmasters elected the first woman to the Board of Directors’ Executive Committee: Helen Blanchard, DTM, who was tapped as the Third Vice President. She says Miller instantly made her feel part of the team.

“Being the first woman in that position, you wonder how the President is going to approach you, or you wonder how he’s going to treat you as a member of the group,” Blanchard recalls. “I was certainly immediately welcomed and treated as an equal member with the rest of the officers, and I always appreciated Bill for that.”

Past International President Tom Richardson, DTM, who served on the Board when Miller was President, says, “ Bill had the ability to make anyone feel good about where they were. He was a great encourager – a man of great character.”

Miller predicted the organization’s growth explosion. In his inauguration speech as International President, he said, “This organization has awakened from its sleep and riveted its gaze on a hopeful future. There are no bounds.” Since that speech nearly 27 years ago, Toastmasters has doubled in size.

Bill Miller will be missed by many of his Toastmasters friends. Along with his wife, Betty, he is survived by the couple’s six children, 16 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. 

Bennie Bough, DTM, PIP, served as the Toastmasters International President in 1992-’93. He is a resident of Fairfax Station, Virginia, and a member of the Springfield Toastmasters club.