Stephen Miller was luckier than most; he had a full and spectacular life. His persona was a warm breeze of optimism that touched all who encountered him.
As a boy and young adult, he was always in motion: on bike, skis, skateboard, water (in and on top), and foot. He had many friends and groups of friends whose world will shrink with Stephen’s exit, but will always be expanded for having known him.
Stephen was born in Washington DC on September 3,1963. He and his family lived in Silver Spring, Maryland. He was the third of four children of Carol and Elaine Miller, following James, Kenneth, and followed by Kathy. In 1967, the family moved to Madison, WI when his dad took a job at the University of Wisconsin. After short stints in Shorewood and Hoyt Park, the family settled in University Heights. Stephen gleefully walked to Randal Elementary School, then Cherokee Middle, and on to West High School from which he graduated in 1981.
Stephen spent his immediate post HS years working, going on train trips (he was a lifelong Amtrak fan and promoter), skiing trips in WI and out West, and attending music shows at Merlyn’s and various Madison clubs. In 1983 he started working at the Plaza Tavern on N. Henry St. The Plaza became the center of his work and social life during this period.
In December of 1984, Stephen was in an inexplicable late-night, no-one-knows-the-details accident that landed him with multiple broken bones and internal injuries at Methodist Hospital. He resided at Methodist for much of the next year. He survived and eventually overcame all that his injuries threw at him. In 1986, his dad donated one of his kidneys to Stephen. This gift freed him from dialysis and allowed him to resume his life.
Once mobile, he pursued years of higher education at MATC, University of Minnesota, and finally UW Madison to study Geology, Biology and Education. He participated on ‘Dino’ digs in Kansas and Iceland. He graduated from UW Madison in 1995 with a BS in Geology and Biology. Over time he chipped away and earned a Master of Science Degree in Education from UW River Falls in 2003.
Equipped with a degree, he began teaching earth science and math at Mt. Horeb HS (1995). He transferred to Kromrey Middle School (1996) in Middleton where he worked until he retired in 2019. Teaching was his vocation and avocation, as he loved to learn. His fun teaching style thrived when he learned with his students, never straying far from the foundations of science, except for when he did. He taught thousands of students over his teaching career, and thousands will attest to his planting the bug of science in their minds.
In 1994, while at the UW, random selection intervened in a genetics course, that brought Amy Simon into Stephen’s life. Within the decade they were married (2000) and having children, Mallory Margaret (Mal) in 2002 and Maisie Mae in 2004. Stephen was his family, and his family was him. His three girls were his world. No one will miss him more than they. They built a family home of Stephen’s design in Middleton in 2004.
Stephen was a traveler. He took numerous excursions east and west around the United States, to Canada, and beyond. He rode across the country on Amtrak multiple times, and motorcycled cross country (his first break-out solo excursion after the accident). He lived in Jackson, Wyoming for a year (fulfilling his pre-accident plan) where he skied (on a mono-ski) and worked full time. He roamed the country by bus while marching in the Madison Scouts in ’77 and ’78. As an adult, he bumped about the Midwest attending Drum and Bugle corps contests and visiting many small towns in the Upper Midwest, just to have a look around and to see the architecture. He traveled to China with Amy (2007) and took the family to the London Olympics (2012). Recently, he toured Scotland and Northern England. His last adventure was to Pittsburgh and back to ride the train and see the bridges and architecture.
Stephen’s early morning train left the station on Feb 22, 2023. He was at home with his family. Just on time. All our love went with him.
Stephen’s parents Carol E. Miller (1929-2017) and Elaine A. Miller (1930-2009) predeceased him. He is survived by 3 siblings: James C. Miller (1959-) and spouse Tammy, Kenneth A. (1961-) and spouse Deborah, and Katherine A. Miller (1967-). He has nieces: Bay and Pearl (Kathy) and nephews: Aaron (Kenneth), Josh (Jamie), and Ry (Kathy).
A celebration of his life will be held later in the year. Please contribute to FFRF (Freedom From Religion Foundation) in Madison in lieu of flowers. He thanks you.
Cress Funeral & Cremation Service
3610 Speedway Road Madison