- Home >
Alumnus shares memories
Miller returning for 50th reunion
ANGOLA — Tri-State University graduate Norm Miller is returning to his alma mater this homecoming weekend to celebrate his 50th class reunion.
Miller wasn’t a traditional student. He entered college when he was in his late 20s, after serving in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. After he was discharged in 1956, he decided he needed more than a high school education.
He first learned about Tri-State when he saw an advertisement for the school in Popular Mechanics magazine. The advertisement said students could earn degrees in just 27 months. Excited at the opportunity to further his education, he applied and was accepted.
He started classes in January 1957, and three weeks after coming to campus, he found himself walking to class with 15 inches of snow on the ground. At the time, the university had about 1,800 students, 90 percent were ex-GIs and only six were women, Miller said.
“I thought the school did an excellent job on the engineering subjects,” Miller said. “I understood a lot of things that I wouldn’t have with just a high school education.”
The GI Bill paid for his tuition, which cost $140 per quarter, but Miller still was responsible for his living expenses. He would save money and go to school for a couple of quarters. Then, he would then take time off his studies so he could earn money by working in the new tools division at Hamilton Cosco, a company that manufactured metal furniture.
“We rented rooms from whoever we could rent a room from,” Miller said. “There were no dorms. I lived, for a while, with Dr. Kissinger. He was a medical doctor who had partner, Dr. Hartman, at Elmhurst Hospital in Angola.”
After graduating in 1960, Miller went to work full-time for Hamilton Cosco and met his wife, Carolyn. They were married in 1963.
After his time at Hamilton Cosco, Miller accepted a job with Schwab Safes in Lafayette. The company produced fireproof safes, and Miller was part of a team that created containers that couldn’t be broken. He said the company often hired “professional burglars” to try to break into the safes.
“It’s not so much the lock, but designing the container itself,” Miller said, adding that his creations were put into huge furnaces in Chicago to test their durability. Miller has since retired and frequently visits his family on Clear Lake.
“I’ve been through the campus, and it’s tremendously different. Well, it’s very nice. I like the way it was when I was there, though,” Miller said.
If he could offer two words of advice to Trine students today, he would simply say, “Work hard.”