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Dale Miller

October 11, 1936 - March 27, 2024

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Dale Miller, a distinguished Purdue University Professor Emeritus, passed away on Wednesday, March 27, 2024. It was a year ago to the day that his wife Vergene had a fall that ended her life a week later.

Born on October 11, 1936, in Tracy, MN, to Erwin and Clara Miller, he led a remarkable life filled with passion for theatre, academia, and community service. After graduating from Tracy High School in 1954, Dale pursued his love for theatre, earning a degree in Theatre from Augustana College in Sioux Falls in 1958. During college, he embarked on an exciting journey, performing in summer theatres, including the Rockerville Mellerdrammer in the Black Hills. He furthered his academic pursuits at North Dakota State while honing his craft on stage. In 1971, he received a Ph.D. in Theatre from Northwestern University.

In September 1960, Dale married Vergene N. Carlson, and together, they embarked on a journey marked by adventure and dedication to the arts. Through 63 years of marriage, they supported each other in their incredible careers. Dale was never a man to resent Vergene’s work. He supported her and was very proud of her. They both worked in St. Paul, MN and later moved to Huron, SD, where their children Mike and Meg were born. Dale and Vergene then moved to Columbia, MO., where Dale was a professor at Stephens College. Dale shared his passion for theatre, teaching, and directing at various institutions, leaving a lasting impact on students and colleagues alike.

In 1976, Dale’s career led him to Purdue University, where he served as Director of Theatre, leaving an indelible mark on the department until his retirement in 2004. During his tenure, he elevated the guest artist program, pioneered the graduate program in Stage Management, and founded the Theatre Guild, enriching the cultural fabric of Purdue and beyond. In 2011, he received the “Legacy Award” from Purdue Theatre.

Dale’s contributions extended far beyond academia; he was dedicated to serving his community. For years, he drove patients to their doctor’s appointments as a Red Cross driver. He often donated fresh, homegrown veggies to Food Finders. He served on numerous boards and committees, including the Tippecanoe Arts Federation and the Tippecanoe County Historical Association, leaving a lasting impact on the arts and heritage landscape. He was awarded a Sagamore of the Wabash for his efforts.

Over the years, Dale has worked with many theatre professionals and has had the privilege of performing at venues such as The St. Louis Municipal Opera, Pheasant Run Theatre in Chicago, Indiana Repertory Theatre in Indianapolis, and many more. Throughout his career, he collaborated with esteemed figures in the American Theatre, including Florence Henderson, Ethel Merman, and Dennis Franz.

 He performed in dozens of television commercials, made industrial films, and appeared in brochures and ads as a print model. He belonged to the Actors’ Equity Assoc., the Screen Actors Guild, and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. He was connected with over 400 theatrical productions either as an actor, a director, or both.

In addition to his professional accomplishments, Dale was a loving family man, enjoying time spent with his son Michael, daughter Meg, and their families. After his first granddaughter was born, there was now something that interested him MORE than Purdue sports and the Chicago Cubs. He always loved hearing what his three wonderful granddaughters, Adriana, Lindsey, and Kira were doing and supported them in any way he could. In his words, “The greatest joy of my old age” was his great-granddaughter Evelyn. He loved seeing her amazing sports pictures of soccer and baseball so much.

Dale will be missed by his students, friends, and family. May he rest in peace.