Walter Joseph Miller Jr. (1947-2023), known as “Joe” to most, “Big Joe” to some, and as “Bud” to a few daring relatives, completed his life's journey Tuesday morning at his home in New Castle, Indiana. Joe's hard worked and well-lived life began in Salt Lick, Kentucky to his late loving parents Walter Joseph Miller Sr. and Bertha E. Miller (Martt). He was also preceded in death by his loving sisters Stella Wood (Miller) and Jeanetta Miller. He leaves behind a grieving, but grateful family, including daughter Amber (Frank) Schuyler, son Robert (Elizabeth) Miller, sister Carol Flockhart (Miller), brother David (Libby) Miller, brother Marcus (Sue) Miller, brother-in-law Ray Wood, and many nieces and nephews. He will be severely missed by his biggest reason for living; his grandchildren Carlin Lucas, Sadie Schuyler, Grayson Miller, and Catie Miller.
Joe grew up with a love of the outdoors, where he played, hunted, and caused mischief with his adventurous siblings and many cousins. When his family moved to Indiana, Joe thrived in school “once they figured out, he needed glasses”. His love of learning was only matched by his love for his family. Two loves he nourished his whole life. He played every sport the small Straughn, Indiana school offered. Some he played better than others, but at least “it meant he didn’t have to work.” After high school, he enrolled at Purdue University for a year (Boiler Up!), before proudly serving his country in Vietnam as a Specialist 5th Class for the United States Army and earning the Bronze Star Medal for his service. Upon returning home, Joe's compassion and love of learning led him to Ball State University where he discovered another way to help others, teaching. After earning his degree, he started his life with his former wife, Cathie. He began his teaching career at Western Wayne School Corporation and soon had children, an intelligent, charismatic one and a boy. His new family inspired a fierce devotion that he often instilled in others. While teaching, coaching, and helping raise two children, Joe's growing intellect (and lack of money) sent him on another path… entrepreneurship. Joe and his brother David started detasseling corn with local high school kids willing to take on the challenge and summer-heat. But Joe's ever-growing ability to "find a good deal", took him down a different path to loading docks and warehouses. He saw the potential in a wood pallet long before the DIY projects of today. Through many evenings in a small shed, recycling wood pallets for local factories, Miller's Wood Specialties was created. Everyone’s hard work, Joe’s determination, and “a lot of luck” turned a part-time job into a large family run corporation. Through the growth and development of the family business, Joe was able to do the things he enjoyed most; spending time with friends and family, learning, teaching, and helping others. He sponsored many local sports teams, race cars, high school bands and choirs, community events, and individual projects. As the business grew, so did his family. With the birth of each grandbaby, he seemed to grow even larger with love and pride. When his chronic illness slowed Joe down, it was his love for his grandkids, his children, his family, and all his friends that kept him smiling and moving forward. Though he was ill for the last several years of his life, Joe continued to provide opportunities, love, laughter, and friendship to anyone he met.
Joe's family welcomes everyone to a celebration of this great man and his life's work at a viewing on Saturday, August 19th from 2:00 PM to 8:00 PM at the Western Wayne (Lincoln) High School Gym of Cambridge City, Indiana and at his funeral on Sunday, August 20th starting at 2:00 PM at the Marshall & Erlewein Funeral Home of Dublin, Indiana. He will be laid to rest at the Ebenezer Church of Lewisville, Indiana with full military honors. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you carry on Joe's passion and sponsor a community team, event, or group in his name.