Tom Miller, Vietnam Veteran, Championed Credit Unions


Tom Miller, champion of credit unions, master of PVC pipe, loving husband, enthusiastic Papa, and karaoke maestro passed away peacefully in his sleep on Tuesday, October 26th, 2021 due to complications of Lewy Body Dementia.

Tom was born at Wyandotte Hospital on August 31st, 1947. Family stories say he arrived prematurely, weighing 3lbs – the only time he was ever small for his age. He spent his childhood in Taylor, MI where he was very close to his grandparents, Lorraine and Ray Stewart. “Tommy” loved baseball and his neighborhood friends (but not school).

After high school, Tom enlisted in the Marines. Quiet and reflective about his experiences in Vietnam, he was very proud of his service and fellow soldiers. He was injured in the line of duty and sometimes shared about his responsibilities as a radio operator guiding Marine helicopters on the front lines. More often he told tales involving 8 guys, one car, and speeding to Michigan for 48hours leave (he remained eternally apologetic to the buddy left behind in the Sunoco bathroom “somewhere in West Virginia”).

Honorably discharged, Tom returned to Michigan finding his first job at General Finance in the ‘collection arts.’ General Finance changed Tom’s life in two ways: First, it cultivated his interest in finance and a belief that credit unions could make a difference in their communities. Second, it cultivated his interest in Ann Marie Schuknecht, the pretty girl working in records and bookkeeping. They danced the nights away and married in June, 1970 – a love story that inspires more than any Hollywood movie.

Tom continued to work and advocate for credit unions with diverse memberships and needs throughout his career, including Communicating Arts C.U. (Detroit News/Free Press), Municipal and Health Services (police and fire) and Affinity Group. He loved to “shake things up” and think differently about credit union service. His legacy lives as one of the principle founders of Mortgage Center, as creator of the first shared ATM networks in Michigan, and as architect of CU Partner Solutions, which seeks out and develops programs benefiting credit union members. Tom really liked his job – but he loved the people he worked with.

Tom’s creativity extended to his weekends and hobbies. He was infamous for his mad genius designs. Notable highlights include the “EGAD” system (electronic goose activated deterrent system) and the muck sucker. He could make PVC the answer to any question. Most of Tom’s projects required the (corrected) assistance of his beloved father-in-law, Ray, or son-in-law, Doug Heisler. Always athletic, Tom discovered golf; he enjoyed his golf buddies and could be counted on for his tee shots (but not his short game). Tom enjoyed RV camping and his lake cottage. His karaoke parties were legendary.

Tom’s life was filled with love for his wife, Ann Marie, and his daughter, Jennifer (Doug). Everyone knows Tom’s grandsons (Adam, Jason, and Zachary) were his greatest joy. “Papa” pitched thousands of balls, chased countless rebounds, recorded so many concerts, videoed each dive, and cheered every goal. His car was always packed with lawn chairs and his ipad (for recording, of course). He was the loudest cheerleader, even if he was still learning the rules.

Tom was a joy to know and love. He will be missed and celebrated everyday.

An open house celebration of Tom’s life will take place on Sunday, November 7th, 2021 between the hours of 12:00 P.M. and 5:00 P.M. at the Saline American Legion hall in Saline, MI (320 W Michigan Ave, Saline, MI 48176). Lunch will be served at 12:00 P.M. (Please RSVP for the luncheon using this form: Miller luncheon).

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