Janet West Miller was called to the presence of the Lord peacefully at home in San Antonio, TX, April 28, 2020, at the age of 91. She was born on October 14, 1928, in San Antonio to J.A. and Zula (Bell) West.
Janet attended Baylor University in Waco, TX where she received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Music Education. She was a member of Baylor’s Golden Wave Band and was the only female in the percussion section during her time there. She was considered a highly accomplished rudimentary snare drummer and was Baylor’s first percussion graduate assistant. Janet was a lifelong fan of her Baylor Bears, attending Homecoming nearly every year and avidly following accomplishments of students and alumni on and off the field. She was on the steering committee that envisioned a Golden Wave Alumni Band and served as an officer for a few years after the organization was created.
Teacher & Band Director
She was first hired as an assistant band director of her high school alma mater, Harlandale, in San Antonio, becoming the first full-time female director of a large band program in Texas. Janet was among the first female members of the Texas Bandmasters Association. She started two school band programs in the 1950s and taught band for 13 years; then after marrying and starting a family, she returned to music education as an elementary music teacher in Harlandale. She retired in 1992 after teaching for 32 years and began volunteering at the Texas Music Educators Association’s annual clinic and convention. Janet enjoyed spending time with fellow retirees at the meetings of the Harlandale/South Bexar County Educational Retirees Association.
Tau Beta Sigma & Kappa Kappa Psi
She was a charter member of the Iota Chapter of Tau Beta Sigma, serving as Editor for the colony’s charter petition in 1947-48. The sorority became her life’s work and love as she went on to serve as National President and Trustee. Janet was also an honorary member of the Beta Sigma and National Chapters of Kappa Kappa Psi. She was proud to be a member of the Fraternity, especially as she credited her career to several Fraternity leaders of the 1950s and 60s, who took an interest in her professional development and helped open doors otherwise closed to women at the time.
Janet served on the TBS National Council from 1953-1957. She was elected National President in 1955 at the convention held at The Ohio State University. Janet’s term as National President coincided with Donald I. Moore’s term as Grand President of the Fraternity. Mr. Moore was Janet’s college band director, mentor, friend, and partner in many endeavors and adventures. Ten new chapters joined the Sorority during her administration, which naturally featured a closer cooperation with the Fraternity in joint ventures. This cooperation was emphasized by the inauguration of Fraternity-Sorority joint panel presentations during the Seventh Biennial Convention held at the University of Utah, over which she presided. Lt. Col. William F. Santelmann, conductor of the United States Marine Band, served as guest conductor of the National Intercollegiate Band and the noted composerarranger, Robert Russell Bennett, was commissioned to write Symphonic Songs for Band, which soon became a standard piece in band literature. Her cherished memory from that NIB was playing in The Mormon Tabernacle. Years later at the 2009 convention in Phoenix, she would share memories of Santelmann with Colonel John R. Bourgeois.
Janet was a member of the 1951, 1953, 1955, and 1957 NIBs, and was recalled for service in 1961 when Richard Franko Goldman requested a bass drummer who could play a passage with the technique he was requiring. Janet was for many years a living link to giants in the history of the Fraternity and Sorority as she enjoyed sharing stories humorous and poignant in her inimitable style.
Following her term as National President, she was an elected member of the Board of Trustees throughout every biennium, except two, until alongside Founder Wava Banes Henry, she was named an Honorary Life Member of the Board in 1995; her service on the board continued until her passing from this earth. Janet participated in 31 National Conventions from 1951 to 2019 (all but four meetings in that span of time). She missed the 1963 convention because she was in her first trimester carrying Tau Beta Sigma’s 28th National President, Dorothy Karon Miller Hammond; they remain the Sorority’s only mother-daughter National Presidents. Janet served several times as Convention Parliamentarian and as a member of the panels or committees awarding The Grace & A. Frank Martin Chapter Leadership Award. Her dedication to National Convention attendance inspired her to establish in 1963 the Janet West Miller Delegate Distance Award, which is given to the delegate who has traveled the greatest distance to National Convention as the sole representative of their chapter.
Sorority life, conventions, and summer meetings were a family affair, around which all the Millers would plan their travel and summer vacations. Janet’s husband DeWayne seemed to be almost as much a fixture at National Conventions as Janet, and Dorothy Karon and son Trey attended conventions from the time they were babes. Janet met her future son-in-law David at the 1999 convention. DeWayne, Reese Henry, and James Hejl were quite the trio, and DeWayne still enjoys hearing from and seeing his sorority and fraternity friends.
In 1981, the third Wava Banes Turner award was conferred upon Janet for demonstrating outstanding and continued service to the Sorority. She was bestowed the Distinguished Service Award by the National Council in 2013. In 2012, the Southwest District renamed its chapter award for Outstanding Service to Music Education in honor of Janet.
Janet treasured the bonds of sisterhood and brotherhood as she lived by the ideals of Tau Beta Sigma and Kappa Kappa Psi. Janet’s love, friendship, leadership, presence, and service are an enduring legacy to all sisters and brothers as her example echoes through generations of members.
Janet’s family and faith in Christ Janet was a faithful servant of her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and throughout her life was a member of several churches including Harlandale Baptist Church, Trinity Baptist Church – where she played in the orchestra and especially loved playing in Living Christmas Tree productions, Northeast Baptist Church, and First Baptist Church of San Antonio.
Janet is survived by her husband of 57 years, DeWayne A. Miller, Jr., her daughter Dorothy Karon Miller Hammond and her husband David, her son DeWayne “Trey” A. Miller III and his wife Michelle, and her grandchildren James T. Miller, Nicole E. Miller, and Michael W. Miller.
Janet was provided loving care by Celina Garcia for the last four years of her life, and medical care of Dr. Manuel Martinez, Dr. Gabriel Urrea-Botero, and the staff of Gonzaba Medical Group.
Janet has now joined that great sorority in the sky, making music in heaven’s marching band, and flinging her green and gold afar to all of us from above. Sic ‘em Bears!
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Tau Beta Sigma Trust Fund (tbsigma.org/donate – please remember to fill out the commemorative gift section of the form), ΤΒΣ National Headquarters, PO Box 849, Stillwater, OK 74076, the Baylor University Golden Wave Band Scholarship Fund, Office of University Advancement, One Bear Place #97026, Waco, Texas 76798-7026, or a charity of your choice.