Hall of fame: Jerry Miller recognized for high school athleticism

By Clay Corbett | Published Saturday, September 22, 2012

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GREATNESS – Jerry Miller was inducted in the Bowie Athletic Hall of Fame Friday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

After an illustrious track and football career, longtime Decatur resident Jerry Miller was inducted into the Bowie High School Athletic Hall of Honor Friday night.

For more than 40 years Miller has made the Decatur area his home but it was his early athletic achievements that helped build his life.

Born and raised in Sunset, Miller moved to Bowie his freshman year of high school.

He was a baseball player at Sunset, but it was in Bowie where he would see his first time on a football field or track. He was a natural athlete who could run fast but track never crossed his mind.

Football practice his sophomore year changed that.Confident in his athletic ability, Miller knew if he was going to play football he had to step up his game.

The current right-halfback at the time was a senior and Miller wanted his position. The senior had also been to the state track meet the year before.

“One day we were all out there sitting in a circle, and he was blowing smoke about going to the state track meet,” Miller said. “Because I was cocky I told him I could outrun him in the 100-yard dash. I’d never run a race in my life.”

Miller outran him by 10 yards. That moment started Miller’s track career and they never let him quit.

Running track wasn’t Miller’s passion, but he was good at it, so he kept pursuing it.

“I didn’t particularly like it,” Miller said. “I was one of those guys that didn’t like to work out. I had a lot of God-given ability but I didn’t use it to my potential.”

Miller rode his ability all the way to the state track meet his junior year where he won gold medals in the 220-yard dash and 440 relay. He took silver in the 100-yard dash.

In 1960, Miller’s senior season, Bowie won the state track meet. Miller led the Jackrabbits with gold medals in the 100, the 220 and the 440 relay. He added a silver medal in the broad jump.

Miller set the UIL record as the single-point winner at the state track meet, with 33 of Bowie’s 57 points.

“At that time, that was the most points that had ever been scored by any one person in state track meet history,” Miller said.

He posted personal best times of 9.5 seconds in the 100 and 20.9 seconds in the 220. At the end of his high school career he owned seven UIL state track meet medals.

Athletic achievements landed him a football scholarship to Texas Christian University. He followed two other teammates to Fort Worth, but Miller soon found out that the big city wasn’t for him.

“They gave me a full ride,” Miller said about TCU. “They were good to me. I just wasn’t good to them.”

After one year at TCU, Miller decided to quit football and just run track. He left school and went to work for his brother when he received a phone call.

Abilene Christian’s track coach, Oliver Jackson, had recruited Miller before anyone else and offered him another chance to go to Abilene.

“He told me ‘Jerry, I have a bed ready for you,'” Miller said. “I told him to put the pillow up.”

Miller jumped at the chance to get to one of the most prestigious track schools in the country.

Living and competing in a smaller town and at a smaller university was just what Miller needed. He finished out his track career while studying business. That is also where he met his wife, June.

“It was just like bigger high school,” Miller said about his time at Abilene Christian. “Everybody knew everybody, and I got along good there. We still have track reunions, and I’ve gotten reacquainted with some of the people I knew. I hosted about 25 of them here about four years ago.”

Miller married June in 1962 and they moved to Decatur in 1972 and to his current residence in 1984. June passed away in 1992. Together they had three daughters.

Miller is currently enjoying his retirement in Decatur and is happy about what athletics did for his life.

“Athletics got me out of Bowie, Texas,” Miller said. “It got me scholarships to go to school, where I met my wife and eventually got my family. I’ve had a good life. I’ve been successful and I’ve got a great family. What else could you ever want?”

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