Legal 02

James William Miller

November 30, 1928 ~ July 14, 2020 (age 91)

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         James William Miller, age 91, died of natural causes on July 14, 2020.  He was born November 30, 1928, in Lancaster to Winfred Cornelius (Boo) and Lucile Belle Deffenbaugh Miller. 

          After graduating from Lancaster High School in 1946, he attended Indiana University and graduated from The Ohio State University in 1950.  While serving as an officer in the U. S. Army in Japan during the Korean War, he met California girl Sarah Louise Taff.  They married in 1953.  He graduated from The Ohio State University College of Law in 1955.    

          Mr. Miller joined his father in the law firm of Deffenbaugh and Miller which was established by his grandfather, Attorney James William Deffenbaugh, in 1902.  In 1985, the firm of Deffenbaugh and Miller merged with the firm of Dagger, Johnston, Ogilvie, Charles and Hampson and Mr. Miller continued his association with this firm, now known as Dagger, Johnston, Miller, Ogilvie and Hampson, until his retirement in 2010.

          A lifetime resident of Lancaster, he was a lion of the community as was his father before him. He was treasured by his friends and his colleagues in the practice of Law as a great wit and raconteur, a perennial Master of Ceremonies at community events, and a tireless booster of Lancaster.

Mr. Miller dedicated his life to public service.  He followed his father and grandfather as President of the Lancaster and Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce.  He was President of the Community Improvement Corporation, United Way, Lancaster Rotary Club, the Lancaster Country Club, Coordinating Council of Ohio University-Lancaster.  He was a member of the American Legion and St. John's Episcopal Church.

          He was President of the Fairfield County Bar Association and served on the Council of Delegates of the Ohio State Bar Association for nine years and the Executive Committee of the Ohio State Bar Association for three years.  He was selected to be a member of the Ohio Bar Foundation and was also a member of the American Bar Association.

          He was Secretary of the City of Lancaster Board of Park Commissioners for 32 years.  His grandfather wrote the deed for Rising Park and was the first Secretary of the Board serving for 28 years.  His father served as Secretary for 23 years.  The three generations served as Secretary of the Board for 83 years.

          Among the awards presented to him over the years were the C. Floyd Wolfe Community Service Award by the Chamber of Commerce in 1990; the President's Award for outstanding contributions to the Chamber of Commerce in 1988; the "Pearl of the Parks" by the Friends of the Parks in 1993; the Citizen of the Year by the Lancaster Board of Realtors in 1994; the Jaycee Distinguished Service Award in 1963; and the Paul Harris Fellowship from the Rotary Foundation.  He served as Governor of District 669 (Southeastern Ohio) of Rotary International in 1967 and 1968.

          He was a longtime member of the Board of Trustees of the Fairfield County Automobile Club, and after its merger served several years as a corporate Board member of the Ohio Auto Club.  He was a member for a number of years of the Board of Directors of the Westerman Companies, and of the Board of Directors of the Frank E. Smith Funeral Home, Inc.

          Mr. Miller was preceded in death by his daughter, Marilyn Jean Miller, and his wife of 65 years, Sarah.  His surviving children are Michael James Miller of Los Angeles, California, Stephen William Miller (Kim) of Pickerington, Ohio, and Maryjane Leverett Miller Hotaling (Clark) of Webster Groves, Missouri.  He is also survived by four grandchildren, Nicholas William Miller of Pickerington, Ohio, Sarah Katherine Miller Loper (Paul) of Powell, Ohio, Jackson Leverett Hotaling and Thomas Daley Hotaling of Webster Groves, Missouri, and one great granddaughter, Lily Loper. 

          He was preceded in death by his parents, W. C. (Boo) and Lucile D. Miller, grandparents James W. and Mary Deffenbaugh and Max and Adele Miller, and an infant sister, Marlyn Ann Miller.   

          Friends may wish to contribute to The Friends of the Parks, 1507 E. Main Street, Lancaster, Ohio 43130.

          Mr. Miller’s family wishes to thank family friend Teri Ebersbach, the fine staff at Main Street Terrace Care Center, and FAIRHOPE Hospice.

          The family will hold a graveside service at Forest Rose Cemetery at 11AM on Saturday, officiated by Father Seth Wymer and the Lancaster Veterans Burial Detail.  Due to Covid-19, we request people to remain in their car and drive by the family to give their condolences.    A memorial gathering will be planned for a later date when we may safely assemble to celebrate Jim in the exuberant manner he deserves.  Arrangements are under the direction of the Frank E. Smith Funeral Home. Online condolences can be made at

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of James William Miller, please visit our floral store.


Graveside Service
July 18, 2020

11:00 AM
Forest Rose Cemetery
1238 N. Columbus Street
Lancaster, OH 43130

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