An inspiring legacy of two unusual brothers
Nolan & Dick Miller
Nolan and Richard (Dick) Miller began life at a disadvantage. In 1916, both brothers were stricken with measles and whooping cough. Nolan was eight and suffered hearing loss. Dick was one year old and went completely deaf. That didn’t slow them down much.
Nolan and Dick’s lives became closely knit. Dick could read lips but did not speak or use sign language, and Nolan helped his brother to read, communicate, and further his schooling. Both brothers were intensely creative and gifted in different endeavors. Nolan became an accomplished writer and was the first fiction editor of The Antioch Review. Dick studied at the Art Students League of New York and became a successful self-employed artist.
When Nolan moved to Yellow Springs, Ohio to teach at Antioch College, Dick followed later. The brothers built homes that were connected by a breezeway, and they lived together in the village for more than half a century. When the brothers were elderly and Nolan became mostly deaf and blind, Dick helped his brother stay independent and in his home as long as possible.
Nolan died in 2006 at age 99. Dick followed him in 2009 at age 94. Their lives were intertwined as they helped each other while they lived, and their lives remain intertwined now as they help others in perpetuity.
Yellow Springs Community Foundation, Antioch College, and the Student Miller Fellowships
Nolan and Dick Miller left behind more than just a $3.6 million bequest to the Yellow Springs Community Foundation when they passed. They also left a vision – that the endowment should generate opportunities for students to assist local public service organizations, thereby deepening cooperation and mutual respect between the Village of Yellow Springs and local colleges and Yellow Springs High School.
How exactly those things should happen was not specified, but the brothers chose the Yellow Springs Community Foundation knowing that organization was poised to achieve what they hoped for. The bequest was unusual and creative, just as the Millers’ lives had been, and fulfilling it required ingenuity. The result was the Student Miller Fellowships, which are administered by the Community Foundation, offering paid internships for students to work for local nonprofit organizations.
The first Student Miller Fellowships were awarded in 2011. Since then, over 200 students have used fellowships to work in more than 185 positions at more than two dozen Yellow Springs nonprofits. Nolan and Dick specified that their endowment should demonstrate to students the importance of community service, and the Yellow Springs Community Foundation has worked hard to pay due diligence to that vision.
The Miller brothers’ lives were driven by creativity, individual expression, and a commitment to others and community. Their legacy extends those values to strengthen collaboration between Yellow Springs and local colleges.