Mother of Sunshine Band Remembered

MRS. SUSAN MILLER MARCHES with the Sunshine Band during the Homecoming parade at the old U.S. 331/Madison crossroads in 1978. Miller taught at the school from 1973-1983, then from 1993-2004.

By BLAKE MCCORMICK
A fixture for many years at Freeport football games has passed away.
Susan Miller, who built the first Marching Band at Freeport High School when the school fielded its first football team in 1976, passed away on Monday, May 22, and was memorialized at the Presbyterian Church in Freeport on Saturday, June 17. She was 73 years old.

Miller began her teaching career in Atlanta during the mid 1960s, and moved to Walton County with her husband, former Walton Middle School music director, Marvin Miller, in 1972. She taught band and various ensembles at the (then) K-12 school, but was best known for her work with the group she named “The Sunshine Marching Band,” a moniker she gave paying tribute to the State of Florida’s nickname. The Atlanta native also issued the school its official fight song, a turn of the 20th century Big Ten tune called “Wave the Flag for Old Chicago.” Miller altered the lyrics, adding references to the school colors “Orange and Blue” and its mascot, “Bulldogs.”

In 1983, Miller left Freeport to take a band directing job in her home state but returned in 1993, exciting the community and former students who recalled her great work in the ‘70s and early ‘80s. The educator, who at that point had been teaching for 30 years, rebuilt her old program to respectability, taking the marching band class from 14 to nearly 40 kids in three years.
Appreciative of sports, Miller had great working relationship with football coaches Aubrey Rentz, Billy Moore, David Williams, Tripp Hope, Rob Armstrong, and Jim Anderson during her combined 23 years at the school.

Miller retired in 2004 after 40 years of music education.