‘He left so many blessings.’ School district renames building to honor Walter Miller

Bradenton Herald | by Giuseppe Sabella | June 25, 2021


Walter Miller’s legacy will live in downtown Bradenton for years to come.

He was a Manatee County resident, school board member, assistant superintendent and family man before he died of heart failure in 2019. Miller was 83, and many of those years were spent bettering the lives of local students and school district employees, Superintendent Cynthia Saunders said.

“He left so many blessings and such a tribute to our whole school community,” Saunders said on Wednesday evening, during a ceremony that honored Miller and celebrated the renaming of a district building.

Following a grassroots movement by friends who wanted to honor Miller, the School Board voted in March to rename the district’s main administration building in Bradenton.

Now known as the Walter E. Miller School Support Center, the building houses board members, the superintendent and other people who make vital decisions about education in Manatee County.

More than 100 people gathered at the building, 215 Manatee Ave. W., during Wednesday’s ceremony, applauding the man whose name is proudly displayed outside.

They included friends, family and local leaders, including Bradenton Mayor Gene Brown and Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant.

Roger Dearing, the superintendent of Manatee County schools from 2003 to 2009, was also there to reflect on Miller and his decades of service to local education.

Among other duties, Miller oversaw the construction of more than two dozen schools, visiting every site during their construction, Dearing said.

“I can’t say enough about Walter,” the former superintendent said. “I love the man. He was great to everybody. He would fight as hard for teachers during teacher contracts as he would for support personnel during those contract negotiations.”

Just behind Dearing was a picture of Miller and an empty seat. His image watched over the speakers, including his son, Clay, who often pointed to the administration building with pride.

“I could drive in with my friends and I could always say, ‘You know, guys, that’s where my dad works,’” Clay Miller said, recounting moments from his childhood.

“Now, my children’s children — his great-grandkids — can be taken into town,” he continued. “We can look at them and say, ‘You know what, guys, your great-grandfather’s name is on that building. That’s his building now.’ I appreciate that.”

Wednesday’s ceremony ended shortly after the unveiling of a laser-engraved image of Miller. Created by students at Manatee Technical College and set in birch wood, the picture is now on display at the Walter E. Miller School Support Center.

“A lifelong leader with a servant’s heart,” it reads.

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