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Former tech college innovator sets up scholarship

Formal photo of Don MillerBy CHARLES A. MASON- the Daily News

Thirteen days in 1962 could have altered Donald R. Miller's life.

The 1955 Warren County High School graduate was sitting in South Florida while serving in the U.S. Air Force in October of 1962, waiting with the rest of the world to know if there would be a nuclear war with the Soviet Union.

Thankfully, war didn't occur. The Bowling Green resident later established vocational education facilities in Kentucky, and he developed the first advanced technology institute in the commonwealth the Kentucky Advanced Technology Institute campus of the Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College in Bowling Green.

Now Miller, 77, wants to potentially alter someone else's life.

SKYCTC announced Tuesday that the Donald R. Miller Endowed Scholarship has been established in the amount of $20,000. The endowment's interest will fund scholarship money for SKYCTC students.

"I've decided to pay back some of the things people have done for me. It might give someone a second chance," Miller said Tuesday.

Miller also knows something about second chances.

He worked at the Times Journal Publishing Co. in Bowling Green before he was old enough to drive. Later, he wanted to be an Air Force pilot, but because he had dropped out of Western Kentucky University prior to getting a degree, he became a loadmaster for the giant C-130 jets.

One of his jobs was to make sure parachutes functioned properly. When he transferred to the Air Force Reserves, he got a second chance at a WKU degree and made the most of it, earning a bachelor s degree in industrial education at WKU. He became an industrial arts teacher at Allen County High School. Then, military service beckoned again during the 13 days of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

When the missiles stalemate was negotiated, he said the Air Force brass ordered the equipment it had readied for action taken back to Fort Campbell. Miller returned to teach at Allen County. He said teaching was the first step in his long career in vocational education. He retired from Bowling Green Technical College in 1991. Miller and his wife, Jeanette, live in Bowling Green.

"I remember a sign I once saw. It said, 'Opportunities are for those who know how and why.'"

He said the endowment is another way to provide opportunities for young people.