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Miller won't return to civil service commission

Bob Miller, longtime member of the Brainerd Police and Fire Civil Service Commission, has decided 33 years on that panel is long enough. The retired Brainerd teacher will serve out his term but will not seek reappointment to the board that administers tests to full-time firefighters and police.

“I just figure it’s time to let somebody else do it for awhile,” the 91-year-old said of his decision.

First appointed to the commission by then Mayor C. Elmer Anderson, Miller has seen several police and fire chiefs come and go. One of the more time-consuming controversies the panel was involved in during his tenure was the demotion of Brainerd Police Chief Wayne Hasty in 1980. He said he didn’t care to make any statement about that controversy because it was so many years ago. He said he was willing to serve when asked to by Anderson, a former Minnesota governor.

“If I could contribute something to the welfare of the city I should do it.”

Fellow commission member Bill Matthies noted Miller was a former coach with an easygoing attitude. He said he hated to see him go.

“I think he’s been invaluable,” Matthies said.

The third member of the commission, Sue Hilgart, said she’d also miss Miller’s contributions to the panel.

“He has always been knowledgeable,” she said. “He’s kept very much in touch with what’s going on ... in the departments.”

Raised in St. Cloud, Miller attended the St.Cloud Teacher’s College and started his education career in Brainerd in 1942. His career was interrupted by his service with an army field artillery unit during World War II. Returning to the Brainerd School District, Miller taught general mechanics in junior high and later wood working at the high school. He retired from teaching in 1983, but teachers continued to be a part of his life. He married his wife, Alma, a home economics teacher, in 1942. They raised three children, Jerry, Chuck and Jean, who all went into education and who all married spouses who were in education.

Miller is known to Brainerd sports fans for his role as an assistant coach on Washington High School’s 1954 state basketball championship team and as a head track coach. For 25 years he was camp director of Legionville and was involved in the school safety program for 60 years.

Commission members will meet at Miller’s home at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday for a social gathering to honor him for his years of service.

MIKE O’ROURKE may be reached at or 855-5860.

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860