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Thomas Miller

01/15/2009

Thomas Miller, age 84 of Naples, Florida, died on Monday, January 5, 2009. Tom was working out on the tennis court shortly before his passing. Tom was born in Yonkers, New York, on November 1, 1924. He was the oldest son of Alex and Janet Miller. Tom moved to Naples in 1993 from Lloyd Harbor, New York.

Tom retired from a 36-year career in education in 1986. He was a school administrator in several Long Island school systems including Northport, Cold Spring Harbor and Oyster Bay. His dedication to the profession included receiving a Ph.D. in education administration. 

Tom grew up with his brothers Al and Pete in Irvington, New York. The Miller boys were top athletes at Irvington High School. Tom was a varsity baseball and basketball player. At age 17 Tom finished high school and enlisted in the United States Navy to defend his country during World War II. He was sent to flight school and achieved the rank of chief petty officer. Following his military service, Tom attended Brockport College. While he was a freshman at Brockport the men's varsity basketball coach from Seton Hall University scouted him. Tom was offered a full scholarship and became the starting center for the Seton Hall Pirates the following year. Tom also played on semi-pro teams in the New York area. Those lightning reflexes on his six-foot five-inch frame made him a much sought after team member.

If there was ever a person who epitomized the hard work ethic, it was Tom. He grew up in a family of cement masons. He learned the bricklayer's trade from his father Alex and his Uncle Charlie at an early age. His skill at laying block and brick earned him the right to build up corners on many a job. He continued to use his knowledge of construction as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.

Once he retired from the world of work Tom wanted to play sports again and found tennis. He was a ranked player and won several doubles tournaments. His net game was ferocious. His serve could be downright daunting. His quickness never seemed to fade. 

Although Wyndemere was his home, he also grew to love Waitsfield, Vermont, where he enjoyed living and playing tennis for the past 15 years.

Tom leaves a loving family including his wife Diane Graver Miller, daughter Sheila McDonald and her husband Allen, daughter Donna Ebel and her husband Rick, granddaughter Rebecca Ebel and grandson David Ebel. Tom's marriage to Diane in 1996 extended his family to include Diane's children John, Leslie and Kyle and grandchildren Samantha, Sarah, Stephen, Ryan, Devon, Garrett and Rachel. His first wife Janet, his brother Pete and his parents Alex and Janet Miller predeceased him.

A funeral service was held on Saturday, January 10, at 3:30 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Naples. Friends and family gathered at the Tiebreaker Room at the Wyndemere Club House following the services for a celebration of this wonderful man's life. Contributions in Tom's name can be made to the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

Naples Memorial Funeral Home and Cemetery is handling arrangements.  Phone (239) 597-3101.

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