Coliseum custodian a ‘very jolly guy’

Mandi Elrod

Jerry Miller, custodian and locker room attendant, plans to retire by the beginning of next year. Photo by Mandi Elrod
Jerry Miller, custodian and locker room attendant, plans to retire by the beginning of next year. Photo by Mandi Elrod

Seen everywhere, but few actually speak to them, and even fewer know them by name. We know them as janitors, cleaning ladies and sometimes even “the help.”

For those who know Jerry Miller, custodian and locker room attendent at D.L. Ligon Coliseum, they know him as a happy guy with a smile on his face and a great attitude. For those who don’t know him, they should.

“He’s always here, and he always does a great job, and he picks on everybody, and we pick on him back,” custodian Ron Jordan said. “Of course he’s had a lot of health problems, and sometime in May he’s going to have surgery again, and soon after that he’s planning on retiring. It’s going to be very hard to replace somebody like Jerry. He’s one of a kind and everybody loves him.”

Miller spends a lot of time taking care of his wife who has very serious back problems. Instead of worrying about himself, for the past few months he has put off having surgery on his hip so that he could work and take care of his wife. He loves her very dearly and would “give the world for her.” When he leaves he will be missed by the people he has connected with.

“I enjoy my job, and working around all of these great people,” Miller said. “But I’m too tired now to keep going, and I just want to rest now. As a great man once said, ‘it’s time to put the horse out to pasture.’”

Born and raised on a farm near Paris, Texas, Miller stopped going to school after the eighth grade. He spent his days picking vegetables, canning and entertaining himself and his siblings with whatever he could find.

“I just went to work when I was young, and I’ve been working ever since then,” Miller said. “My dad didn’t find any need for us to go to school with so much work to do around the farm.”

Married twice with three kids and a life full of moving back and forth from Colorado to Texas, Miller finally settled down with his second wife, Francis, in a town not far from Wichita Falls, and he began work as a shuttle driver at MSU. He worked the bus for a year until the summer when he began work as a janitor in the Dillard College of Business Administration for two years.

He was then offered a position doing laundry full time in the coliseum, where he has been for eight years.

“I’ve known Jerry for about eleven years, about as long as he’s been here, and he’s a good guy,” custodian Bruce Loony said. “I’ve been here about the same time he has and any time I ask him to give me a helping hand, he’s more than willing to drop what he’s doing and help.”

In fact, no matter what he’s doing, or how busy he seems, hardly a person can walk by without Jerry saying hello and asking how they’re doing. He knows most people by name, and loves everybody.

“I’m just a very jolly guy, and I respect everyone,” Miller said. “I’ve never had a problem with anybody here, the students are nice to me, and they ask me about my day, and I just enjoy them.”

Although Miller said he has made friends throughout his years, no matter what goes on in his personal life, he keeps a smile on his face, and doesn’t complain about anything. Those who know him more know that he has bad hip problems and really terrible arthritis in his shoulders. Two years ago he had surgery on his right hip, and this summer he will be having surgery on his left. Half of the time, he’s in pain, and nobody knows it.