July 9, 1949
November 9, 2008
Dr. Danny Lester Miller, formerly of Ashe County, passed away on November 9, 2008 at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio after a sudden stroke. He was 59 years old. Danny served as the chair of the English Department at Northern Kentucky University. He was a noted scholar of Appalachian culture and literature and beloved figure on NKU’s campus and in the hearts of all who knew him.
Miller was born in West Virginia on July 9, 1949, the son of Mary Leona Jones and Howard Lester Miller. While his father’s career in the Navy took the family as far away as Brooklyn, New York, Miller remained deeply connected to his family’s Appalachian culture and heritage, especially the land and people in and around Ashe County, North Carolina. Miller earned his Bachelor’s degree in English at Berea College in Kentucky, an institution dedicated to teaching students of Appalachian background, becoming the first member of his family to graduate from college.
After Berea, Miller earned his Master’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University in 1975 before enrolling in the PhD program at the University of Cincinnati. He received his doctorate in 1985. Recognizing that the rich literary traditions of Appalachia were still little studied by scholars, Miller wrote a dissertation on women in Appalachian literature. A pioneering work in the field of Appalachian literary studies, the dissertation became the foundation for his first book, Wingless Flights: Appalachian Women in Fiction, published in 1996.
Miller devoted his life to the study and promotion of Appalachian literature and culture. In addition to Wingless Flights, Miller was the co-author of An American Vein: Critical Readings in Appalachian Literature, and numerous articles and presentations. He was a member of the Urban Appalachian Council of Greater Cincinnati and was involved in a wide variety of projects connected to Appalachian culture and advocacy. He was widely known and beloved throughout the extended community of scholars, writers, and activists in Appalachian studies.
The heart of Danny Miller was his family. An avid genealogist, he had completed numerous family histories and was often asked to speak on genealogy. Most recently, he was the special guest at the family reunion of the descendants of the original Siamese twins Chang and Eng Bunker, where he discussed his own Yates family who were related to the Bunkers by marriage.
Miller is survived by his grandmother, Della Yates Jones; his sister, Deborah Miller Wood; his brothers, James Lee and Timothy Lynn Miller; his nieces, Rachel Richardson Clark and Emily Elizabeth Miller; his nephew, Tommy Ryan Wood; his grand-niece and nephew, Laney Mackennan and William Richardson Clark; and his many uncles, aunts, cousins, and dear friends.
Memorial services were held at NKU on Saturday, Nov. 15, at 1:30 p.m. in Greaves Concert Hall, and will also be held on Saturday, Nov. 22, at 2 p.m. at Warrensville Baptist Church in Warrensville.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Danny L. Miller Memorial Fund at the Department of English, Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, KY 41099. Checks may be written to the Department of English.