Gary E. Miller, 72, of Springfield, Illinois died on July 28, 2017 at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, DC.
Gary was born in Pittsfield, Illinois to Ernest Henry and Irene Little Miller. He was the youngest of three children: Ethel (Floyd) Miller Brooks and Margaret Miller Skiles.
He is survived by his wife, Kathy Bandstra Miller of Springfield, IL; a sister, Margaret Skiles of Virginia, IL; in-laws, Jim and Sheryl Gallagher of Indianola, IA and Gene and Jan Bandstra of New Sharon, IA; and several nieces and nephews, great-nieces and nephews, and great-great-nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Ernest and Irene Miller; a sister, Ethel Brooks; and two brothers-in-law, Floyd Brooks and Peter Skiles.
Gary made his profession of faith at a young age in the United Methodist Church, Virginia, IL, and continued to be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ until his death; and he is now in the presence of his Lord and Savior. At the time of his death, he attended West Side Christian Church in Springfield.
Anyone who knew Gary, knew that he loved music. At the age of 9, he started singing solos at the Methodist Church in Virginia, IL, and during his high school years won several first-place medals at State Music Contests.
Gary lived several places in his youth, until the death of his father when Gary was 12 years old. He then resided in Virginia, IL with his mother until he graduated from high school.
After attending Illinois State University in Normal Illinois, he lived in Springfield and worked for the State of Illinois for 37 years, spending his last 12 years with the State as the Director of the State Agency: Guardianship and Advocacy Commission.
Gary continued his involvement in music while living in Springfield. He directed the choir at the United Methodist Church in Virginia, IL. Gary played the organ for several area churches and belonged to the Springfield Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. He continued singing solos at churches and other occasions. Gary starred in several musicals at the Springfield Muni Opera, including Brigadoon, My Fair Lady and Paint Your Wagon.
In the fall of 1981, he met the love of his life and best friend, Kathy Bandstra at a surprise birthday party for his very good friend, Hank Cronister; later marrying in 1984. They always enjoyed being together. In addition to loving to play and sing hymns, they loved Southern Gospel Music, attending several concerts and even the National Quartet Convention for several years.
Gary was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star. In 1980, he and Caroline Dietrich were leaders over the Grand Jurisdiction of Illinois. Then in November 2015, he was elected to the Office of International Secretary of the Eastern Star. This required a move to Washington DC to live at the Headquarters which is located in the Belmont Mansion. The Eastern Star has Chapters over several parts of the world and as Secretary, Gary traveled to several of them. This year alone, Gary and Kathy had the privilege of visiting Chapters in Guam, Taiwan, Philippines, Australia, Romania, Germany and Provinces in Canada. There was never any doubt that Gary enjoyed each and every member that he met while visiting these Chapters. He and Kathy had just arrived back at the Belmont Mansion a half hour after getting home from Germany when he suffered a heart attack that took his life.
Since his death, there have been some wonderful comments made about Gary. From a high school classmate: “Gary was always special because he was so kind-hearted, funny and very smart. He was one of our class leaders from the beginning and our Senior Class President. I always respected him. And, I loved his singing. I think the first time we sang together was in grade school chorus. I wasn’t too sure what I was doing there … but Gary sure knew what HE was doing. I think everyone recognized his talent very early on.”
The following is a note from one of his nieces: “Heartbroken… my family’s and my life will never be the same as we have known it. We were fortunate and blessed to share it with our amazing Uncle Gary who was serious, loving, funny, smart, caring, hardworking, a singer and a musician, just to name a few. Little did we know our “lasts” would really be our “lasts.” Till we meet again. Loved you with all my heart, Uncle Gary.”
Funeral Services: 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 9, 2017 at Third Reformed Church- Pella.
Memorial contributions may be made to Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 75817, Topeka, KS 66675-8517; Land of Lincoln Honor Flight, 57 Country Place, Springfield, IL 62703; TNT Adult Bible Class c/o West Side Christian Church, 2850 Cider Mill Ln., Springfield, IL 62702; or to the Preservation and Restoration Fund for the Belmont Mansion (headquarters for the International office of the Eastern Star), 1618 New Hampshire, Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20009.