I came on the board of my alma mater, a small, distinguished liberal arts college, just before Andy Miller retired as a trustee; that overlap marked one of life’s blessings for me. In that context, I came to know one of the most outstanding of the U.S. national Salvation Army (S.A.) Commissioners and an American candidate who came close to making General, the highest possible position of the world-wide Salvation Army.
Andy aptly fits his biographer’s description of him as a “walking exclamation point,” but he is so much more than a colorful personality. As I sat beside him in meetings, he would whisper hilariously witty commentary on the proceedings, then shortly afterward he would be a dynamic force in initiating productive solutions for problems or offering insightful assessments of critical issues. He sees the humor in life, but it does not distract him from his central purpose or the vital tasks of the moment. In fact, when people talk about Andrew Miller, it is his spiritual depth rather than his wit or personality that gets top billing.
Andy Miller makes friends with powerful men as easily as with the common man. He was an usher at Robert Kennedy’s funeral because he met and formed a friendship with the former U.S. Attorney General while jogging on the streets of New York City. He can be very disarming in his friendliness and his compassion, but he can also be hard-nosed when it is necessary. The story is told that a local banker was trying to wiggle out of being the honorary chairman of a fundraising campaign for the Salvation Army. The banker suggested a lower-ranking bank dignitary for the job, but Miller pushed, “We always have our lead banker be the chairman.” “How much money do you have in our bank?” inquired the bank president. Learning it was multiple millions invested from previous fund drives, the banker agreed to be chairman, but then declared, “Miller, you are the original godfather!” The nickname stuck, but as he observed the work of the Salvation Army that banker became an enthusiastic supporter and a member of the S.A. National Advisory Board.
No one who meets him can forget Andy Miller; he has friends all over the world –– most of them have a favorite anecdote about the “godfather” of the Salvation Army. One of the Salvation Army’s leaders once said that it would be impossible to “overembellish” an Andy Miller story.
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