The family of Robert "Bob" Miller III, a 1955 alumnus of Catawba College, has established a scholarship at the institution in his memory. Preference for the Robert B. Miller III Endowed Scholarship will be given to eligible members of the College's men's basketball team.
This scholarship is being established by his wife, Tippie Miller, his son, Robert J. "Bobby" Miller, a 1985 Wake Forest University graduate, and his daughter, Sharon Miller Earnhardt, a 1987 graduate of Catawba College.
"Catawba was very important to Bob, and our family establishing this scholarship is a result of his connection here and the importance of athletics to him, in particular the basketball program of which he was a part of during his college years," explains Bob's wife, Tippie.
The late Bob Miller, a native of Salisbury, attended Catawba on a partial academic scholarship while working his way through school. He majored in business and played basketball at Catawba under the late Coach Earl Ruth. He died Sept. 15, 2001 after a long battle against cancer.
"Catawba College is not only an educational institution; but also the setting for establishing lifelong friendships. Catawba forms units not by blood but by friends, and I am fortunate to have inherited those Catawba friends from Bob," Tippie explains. "I could tell who knew Bob by what they called him," she continues. "His nickname in high school was 'Wah Wah,' but was shortened to just 'Wah' by his close friends when he came to Catawba."
Among those Catawba classmates of Bob's who knew him as 'Wah' and continue to remain close friends of Tippie and her family are Jack Ward '51, Larry Taylor '52, Bill Peeler '54 and his wife, the former Eleanor LeVan '53, and the late Bill Lippard '53. "We are truly blessed by these friendships," Tippie says.
Bob's business degree from Catawba lead to his association with a number of family-owned businesses run by John and Paul Carter: Carter Brothers Furniture, Carter Index, Carter Chair Corporation, and lastly, Carolina Color Corporation where he served as secretary/treasurer until his retirement in 1999.
"Bob was the personification of a very quiet strength. He was not a 'me' person, he was a 'you' person. He never wanted attention drawn to himself," she explains. "He is probably remembered most for his friendliness, interests in sports, and devotion to both his work and his family." When one of his Catawba buddies was asked for a one word description of Bob, he quickly said, "friend."
Bob was a dedicated sports fan, interested in practically all college and professional sports, most notably Catawba College athletics. "We followed the Catawba football games wherever they were being played at home and away," Tippie remembers.
Bob was an avid Carolina Panthers fan and Charlotte Hornets fan as well. "We would travel to Charlotte for some 12 Panther games and 52 Hornets games each year," she continues.
He coached Little League Baseball for St. John's Lutheran Church, and Pony League Baseball for Harold B. Jarrett during Bobby's playing years. He also participated in local Industrial softball leagues up into his mid-forties.
Bob was both a high school and college basketball official across the State of North Carolina for over 20 years, in addition to conducting officiating clinics. He would work the Blue White games at Catawba when Sam Moir was head basketball coach. Being an alumnus of Catawba, he was prohibited from officiating their regular games. Bob was one of the last officials to wear high top referee shoes. His fellow officials had his last pair of high tops bronzed after he stopped officiating with a plaque that reads: "Thank You for You."
Tippie says her husband was "an invested parent" whose time away from work was "totally family time." "All of our activities centered around Bobby and Sharon as they were growing up, and they, in turn, made him the center of their lives during his battle with cancer."
Tippie credits their children, Bobby and Sharon, their son-in-law, Dave, their grandson, Chase, and numerous family friends with helping extend Bob's life and improve the quality of it during his struggle with cancer.
During Bob's treatment for cancer, Tippie remembers, he witnessed another patient upset because he was having financial difficulties purchasing his cancer drugs. "That affected Bob so deeply that that day, we went to the bank and set up a fund, Rowan County Cancer Support Fund, which assists cancer patients in financial crisis with the purchase of their medications. "Again, he was not a 'me' person, but a 'you' person," Tippie says.
Tippie Miller, through her continued support of Catawba, pays a fine tribute to her late husband. She took his place on the Catawba College Chiefs Club Board and is now serving as its president. "It was an honor to be asked to 'fill his shoes,' " she says, "and I hope to serve the College well."
All three of Bob Miller's sisters also graduated from Catawba, including Mary Catherine Taylor '57 of Hickory and her husband, Dr. W. Clyde Taylor Jr. '54, Elizabeth Miller Horton '61 of Winston-Salem and her late husband, John A. Horton Jr. '54, and Linda Miller Price '64 of Hillsborough.
"What a wonderful, happy couple they were," Catawba Senior Vice President Tom Childress said of Tippie Miller and her late husband, Bob. "In many ways, Bob still lives on at Catawba and in the community through her presence and efforts. I can't think of a more wonderful way to honor someone you loved so dearly than to continue to do the things that meant so much to them – like Tippie has done for Bob at Catawba."