COLUMBUS — Jerry Miller has made a big difference in Madison County. The Friends of Madison County Parks and Trails who nominated Miller share that although he is over 70 with physical pain, he still gives cheerfully and energetically back to others. As his nomination states, he is an inspiring example and deserving of recognition.
Miller had a tough start in life, when his parents separated while he was three and placed him in foster care. He lived with several foster families and changed schools 13 times before graduating from high school in Morgan County. After that, Jerry moved to Columbus, found a job, and joined the National Guard. He married his high school sweetheart and ran a construction company until he decided to open his own company.
After retiring due to a debilitating ankle injury, he started looking for volunteer work. He heard that the Friends of the Madison County Parks and Trails were trying to acquire space in a building that needed repairs. He explained about his building experience and soon gave the building a thorough review and a checklist of repairs to be considered. The board soon came to understand that he was a leader and a doer so they decided to nominate him to the Board of Directors in 2010 where he currently remains.
Miller has worked with high school volunteers and church volunteers to clear brush, cut trees, and remove invasive species near the trail. He uses his personal tractor, trucks and trailer to maintain the multi-purpose trail and the Little Darby Preserve for the Madison County Park District.
He is often found working along the trail or nature preserves. It is understood that when a trail section has been freshly maintained, he must have been out working again. After noticing that tree roots were damaging the asphalt trail, he engineered and helped build a “Root Ripper” machine to cut roots along the trail before they can become a problem. He has shared his invention with other trail groups and park districts with no desire for personal compensation.
When a camping area was needed along the Ohio to Erie Trail, Miller was there to help clear brush, use his equipment to level the land, build tent platforms, and plant grass. Trail users from as far away as South Korea, the UK, and Australia have camped there — all thankful for the safe, convenient, friendly location.
Miller teaches us that at any age, even with medical issues, one can express kindness and generosity in a manner that motivates others to do more. Those that work with him know that he is a man you can count on. He is someone that you can give a job to and forget about it because it is as good as done.
His leadership style is recognized by many. He does not act as a one man show. He does not insist on his way but offers ideas and is quick to recognize others if they have better ideas. He looks for solutions and his “don’t give up” attitude has a positive effect on others. He is an outstanding role model for active involvement in the community.