MAHOMET — Leland “Lee” Bishop Miller Jr., 88, passed away peacefully on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in Urbana.
Leland is survived by his wife, Alice P. Elder-Miller, of 34 years; daughter, Susan (Timothy) Fallon of Geneva; son, James Bishop Miller of Houston, Texas; and granddaughters, Katherine Fallon of New York, N.Y., and Elizabeth Fallon of Columbia, Mo.
Lee was preceded in death by his parents, father, Leland B. Miller Sr., and mother, Nellie C. (Jolly) Miller; his sister, Charlotte (Herb) McGrath; his son, Steven Robert Miller; and niece, Kim McGrath. He was previously married to Elene (Schiermer) Miller.
Lee was born June 17, 1931, in Bloomington. He graduated salutatorian in 1949 from University High in Bloomington. He received his bachelor of science in chemical engineering, master of science in chemical engineering and master of business administration from the University of Illinois. He continued his education, pursuing a doctoral thesis at Purdue University in chemical engineering prior to accepting a research engineering position at Exxon in New Jersey. Later he taught management courses at Harvard Graduate School of Business and the University of Illinois. He was a member of Alpha Chi Sigma, Phi Lambda Upsilon and Sigma Chi at the University of Illinois.
Lee was the corporate treasurer and a vice president of A.E. Staley Manufacturing Co., later Staley Continental. His long career with Staley, a leading food ingredient manufacturer in agri-technology, provided him with many opportunities to assist in the company’s growth along with international travel to grow the business into the second-largest food service distribution company in the world.
In 1959, he joined Staley as a chemical engineer then held other positions, including manager of sweetener manufacturing operations, director of facilities planning, director of long-range planning and assistant treasurer, before his final position at Staley Continental as treasurer and vice president. Following his career with Staley, Lee was elected vice president/chief financial officer of MultiFresh Systems Inc. However, A.E. Staley Co. held a special place in his heart until his very last day.
Lee proudly served in the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant in the 501st Army Security Agency stationed in Korea and Fort Devens, Mass., from 1955-1957 and continued in the Army Reserves until 1962. His other affiliations included National Association of Corporate Treasurers, Planning Executive Institute, Financial Management Association, Midwest Planning Association, American Management Association, Corporate Finance Council, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Illinois Chamber of Commerce and Lions Club. He held the positions of vice president of United Cerebral Palsy of Illinois, director of Progress Resources, president of Industrial Development Research Council, Mahomet Village Board member, and chairman of the planning and zoning committee.
Lee was an avid storyteller and immensely enjoyed when someone appreciated his unique sense of humor. He was a voracious reader and had multiple books by his chairside at all times. This resulted in often useful or useless knowledge, making him an excellent trivia partner.
He was fearless in trying new things regardless of his age. He learned to ski at 50 years old until his physical ailments forced him to hang up his skis at the age of 75. He learned to golf at age 57 and looked forward to the 19th hole regardless of the outcome. His favorite ski and golf spot was Telluride, Colo., where he and his wife spent many weeks enjoying Telluride’s slopes and surrounding mountains with family and friends.
He was an avid Illini fan and supported all Illinois teams during good times and bad. His favorite professional team was the Chicago Bears football team since it was started by A.E. Staley as the Staley Bears. He was an enthusiastic Chicago Bears fan and season ticket holder and attended the Bears home games regularly up until the week prior to his passing. Still, he was happiest when he was spending time with his wife, children and granddaughters discussing all topics and sharing amusing stories.
A special thank you to all the wonderful family and friends, including caretakers, for their loving support and attention to Lee as his physical limitations progressed.
A visitation was 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31, at Mahomet United Methodist Church, located at 1302 E. South Mahomet Road, Mahomet. A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1, 2019, at Mahomet United Methodist Church.
Memorial donations may be made to the American Parkinson’s Disease Association at www.APDAParkinson.org or to Mahomet United Methodist Church.
Condolences may be offered at www.owensfuneralhomes.com.