Photo by George Lauby
Miller at the Hershey field, 2007
The community of Hershey grieved Monday at the unexpected loss of veteran coach and teacher Gregory Miller, who died Sunday at his home.
Miller, 56, who started working at Hershey in 1982, was a force at the school, guiding hundreds of students.
“He always was accessible to the students; he always encouraged them,” school board member Floydene Brown said. “He will be dearly missed by many.”
Miller was the school’s K-12 physical education teacher and during his 30-plus years at the school, he coached every sport.
Miller started the Hershey Elementary basketball program.
Brown said testimonials poured into her facebook page Monday from former students and fellow employees.
Miller's funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Hershey High School gymnasium.
Visitation is 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday and Friday at Odean Colonial Chapel at C & Sycamore in North Platte. Miller’s family will be on hand to greet friends during visitation from 5-7 p.m. Friday.
Miller was born in McCook and grew up in Cambridge. He graduated in 1976 from Cambridge High and attended Nebraska Wesleyan College to play football. He earned a degree in education and started his teaching/coaching career at Hershey.
Activities director and girls basketball coach Jeremy Thomas said it will be difficult to think of the school without Miller.
“Other than his own kids and family, the school was his life,” Thomas said. “Every one of the students are affected by his passing, from Kindergarten up.”
“Gregory always made it a point to know and work with them all,” Thomas said. “He didn’t care who you were or even if you had two left feet, he would make you feel like you had potential.”
Thomas said Miller was his mentor when Thomas learned the ropes as a coach. Thomas has guided the girls basketball team to the state tournament for two consecutive years, and the team has consistently challenged opponents for a berth in the tournament for several years, just an example of the Panthers' sports achievements.
“I credit all our athletic success at the school to him,” Thomas said.
Superintendent Jane Davis said Miller met each student everyday with a huge smile, a high five and words of encouragement.
“He had a positive approach to life and these qualities radiated to those around him,” Davis said. “He was an avid Panthers fan and supporter and encouraged everyone to work to the best of their abilities.”
When Hershey built a new football field, track and bleachers in 2007, Miller told the Bulletin it all started some six years earlier when residents pitched together to clean the area. They erected new lights and stands for the home team. The high school shop class built a new press box. A new scoreboard was purchased and installed.
When it was all finished, Miller was gratified with the new $650,000 football field and track, not only because he was a veteran coach, but because he lived at the north end of the field.
“You don’t know how many times I’ve looked out my window and wished for something like this,” he said with a wide grin.
Miller was a member of Maria Lutheran Church and the Nebraska Coaches Association.
Immediate survivors include his wife Tracy and daughters Shaylyn, Daynlee and Treyann Miller, all of Hershey; his mother Glenda Miller of North Platte and his brother Scott (Stacey) Miller, of Temecula, Calif.