Personal Testimonials about Will

Sally Swanson
San Francisco
August 7, 2005

I remember Willard in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois during the early sixties.

Will was a close friend of my future husband, Gerald Swanson, and all three of us were attending the University of Illinois at this time.

After study sessions, Gerald, otherwise known as Jerry, and I would go to a local restaurant, Mel Roots in Urbana where we would catch Will and his partner having banana splits. Somehow this indicated to me that Willard had the ability to enjoy life and everything around him. Willard also had the ability to create a warm hearth. He moved into a dilapidated farm house adjacent to the corn fields and created an excellent environment. One night while sitting outside his home, I discovered the beauty of Illinois. As we sat there, the corn rustled in the wind and I could feel the serenity of living close to the soil and the beauty of being alive.

In years, Willard moved to work in Vermont and I lost contact with his whereabouts.

During the seventies, I meet his sister Barbara and we become close friends.

Barbara is the God-mother to my only daughter Sophia. She helped raise Sophia and as of today we remain in contact and continue our friendship.

I remember Willard as being strong, proud, adventuresome and standing by his beliefs. His loss will be mourned by many.

Meredith A. Smith
Saratoga Springs, NY
August 3, 2005

      I wish I had written this sooner. My best friend and I took an intro-level philosophy class with Will during our sophomore year (2000), at UVM. It's hard to verbalize the effect this course and Will's teaching has had on me. My best friend and I always exclaimed (and continue still) about Will's incredible intelligence-- naming him the smartest man we'd ever met. I certainly credit Will for introducing me to some scary facts about our country and history. Will pushed us to question. And to speak out. When I started at UVM I had little to no interest in politics. But now, I am far to the left-- and so much of that is because of Will's teachings. Even though I was just one face in a lecture full of young kids... Will Miller has touched my life more than he could know. I will forever remember him and his infinite wisdom. Thank you, Will.

Gretchen Natvig
San Francisco, CA
July 17, 2005

     I was a student with Will diring my first and second years at UVM. I cannot even begin to describe my feelings of gratitute, appreciation, and utter adoration of such a profound and intelligent man. I learned so much from him, beginning with the very first day of class, and all the way up until the last. He was a magnificant professor and a wonderful human being. Whenever I saw Will on campus I would beam, feeling I was amoung the few who were priveledged enough to learn from such a great master. He will be sorely missed, but never forgotton. And for this, I am thankful.

Thank you very much Will Miller,
a grateful student and ALUMNI,
Gretchen Natvig.

Trina Magi
Burlington, Vermont
June 11, 2005

I hope you are coping OK with your great loss. I can hardly begin to imagine your pain at losing someone so special and beloved. I read your e-mail and wept a few tears thinking about what you must be going through. Will was such a strong voice for justice and it's hard to believe he's no longer speaking directly to all of us. But his voice certainly lives on through all the lives he touched--through his students and colleagues who learned so much from him. He raised my awareness on so many issues, and I will be forever grateful and admiring. What a wonderful, wonderful man.

I hope that you will take good care of yourself and reach out to any of us when you need help or a shoulder to cry on. I also hope you will try to find me if you are ever in the Bailey/Howe Library. I'd love to meet you


Joe D. Wheeler
Victoria, B.C. Canada
May 23, 2005

Dear Ann Lipsit,

     It was a shock for me to visit one of my favorite web sources of insight and integrity, Will's collection of writings and accounts of his activism, to discover that he had died.

     I am writing you personally about this rather than using the form on the memorial site, because I don't know whether or not the latter would be appropriate, as I never met the man. I don't think it really matters, the notion of a global village is a reality with the advent of the Internet, and since all human interaction is ultimately symbolic, it is possible to be as moved by connection with the life of another person by electronic means as it would be in person over a meal, etc. That may sound like a rationalization for alienation, but in the world of shared sentiments and ideas, there is a sense in which reading and responding to the work of another over the net can at times be deeper than the distractions of a face to face encounter, because it is "mindspeak", that phenomenon of considered writing that is more formalized than extemporary conversation, yet retains much of the informality and spontaneity of the f-to-f variety.

     It is clear from Will's writing that he was a man of great integrity, wisdom, courage, compassion and determination, and I have no doubt his efforts to put forth his views on the Web have significantly affected countless people.

     That is the case with me; I first stumbled onto Will's site in 2001, and was immediately inspired by the clarity of his accumulated thought and his uncompromising standards in putting forth his moral concern and vision.

     So, like many other people in this frantic world, I bookmarked his site. Then I realized it was so good that, in case for any reason it was to be withdrawn from the Web, I downloaded the whole site back in 2002.

     The more I read of his writings, the more I actually felt like I knew this man I had in reality never met. His work not only strides numerous disciplines, but has been distilled in the crucible of unflinching moral honesty into a coherent and important vision of human social existence, how it is and came to this point, and what must be done.

     The upshot is, when I discovered that while I was busy and distracted with my own social justice activism here in Canada, I had neglected to keep up with my check-in's of Will's site. So then when I belatedly returned and discovered he had died, I felt the hot flush of guilt for not having written him to tell him how his work had touched my life, let alone an exchange that may have been mutually rewarding.

     So there you have it -- me, a man who has never met Will Miller, yet who sits in genuine mourning of the loss of this exemplary human being.

     I see you are organizing a series of memorial lectures, which is of course very good. I hope they are retained and published. What of Dr. Miller's copious writings? I hope that a collected works, or at least a Will Miller reader is ultimately published, as the world needs to have his thoughts preserved in as permanent a form as possible.

Joe D. Wheeler

Will Bunten
Palmer, AK
April 29, 2005

      It's funny that, when I think of writing on the website dedicated to Will, I never feel like I have the words to properly express my feelings, or if I can express my feelings I lack the eloquence. The ironic part of all this's one thing I always appreciated about Will; even a man with seemingly infinite knowledge and an "encyclopedic" vocabulary could have conversations with students and make them (me certainly) feel as an equal. He took peoples words and carefully considered their points and made acknowledgement to good points, made thoughtful arguements to points he didn't agree with. Probably the most easy to speak to PhD I ever came across at UVM. He didn't try to indoctrinate with all that knowledge, just share. I haven't seen or spoken to him in 5 years and I miss him dearly.

     My condolences and best wishes to his family and friends. Let's do what Will would have wanted, and keep moving forward.

Will Bunten

Fred Magdoff
Burlington, Vermont
April 29, 2005

The Life of an Activist-Educator

     In many parts of our country—in communities large and small—there are activists engaged in a wide range of struggles for social and economic justice. In some communities and states there is one person who stands out as a consistent force for social change. This person inspires others and provides continuity over the years. In Vermont, University of Vermont professor of philosophy Will Miller was such a major force for left education and change—in local communities, at the university, and in the state. A committed socialist and Marxist, Will's devotion to activism was inseparable from his role as teacher. His devotion to change and knowledge and understanding of history and economics — and his willingness to discuss almost any issue at the drop of a hat — meant that he was an educator both inside and outside the classroom. Unlike most academics (radical or not), Will choose to concentrate on teaching and social change through various means instead of on publishing articles in scholarly journals.

     Will was different from many activists because his interests and involvement included a wide range of problems. He viscerally understood that almost all the issues of concern to him and many others were in one way or another caused by, or made worse by, capitalism — the persistence of poverty in a land of plenty, racial discrimination, homophobia, the imperial drive of the United States that continues to take so many lives, the persistent class structure as well as the war being waged by the wealthy and their representatives against workers and their unions and against the social programs of the FDR and Johnson eras, and so on. Although a committed socialist, Will understood that — even if capitalism is the root cause of the problems — you just can't wait around for the creation of a more humane and democratic society before trying to make peoples' lives better. The continuing struggle for social and economic justice and peace is important for two reasons. First, it's the right thing to do and many battles are winnable. Second, it's through these struggles that people learn, as Will knew, that the many troubles and crises that occur — each frequently with it's own constituency — are not individual isolated issues, but rather symptoms of an underlying unjust economic and political system.

     Vermont has lost a most valuable citizen and human being. His passing will be mourned by many, aside from those representing the most powerful elements of society. Will Miller challenged conventional wisdom on most issues as well as the hypocrisy that is endemic to our society. His knowledge of history and economics was an antidote to the national disease of historical amnesia. As many will testify today, Will was unique in many ways and made significant contributions to the struggle for social and economic justice.

     At UVM, students have lost a valuable and esteemed teacher and Professors and staff have lost a colleague always willing to take on the powerful in the interests of those with little power. Working people in Vermont — those attempting to unionize as well as those engaged in other struggles to better their condition — have lost an advocate. People marginalized or discriminated against for whatever reason have lost a co-fighter. The anti-imperialist and anti-war movement has lost someone who could always be counted on to be at rallies (usually holding the Veterans for Peace banner with others).

     And so many of us have lost an exceptional, constant, and tireless friend and comrade.

The last verse of the song of Joe Hill goes as follows:

"From San Diego up to Maine
In every mine and mill
Where workers strike and organize,"
Says he, "You'll find Joe Hill," says he, "You'll find Joe Hill."

     As with Joe Hill, Will Miller will be there on picket lines, at rallies for social and economic justice, and at anti-war demonstrations—from Washington DC to New York up to Montpelier and Burlington, wherever people fight for a better world, that's where you'll find Will Miller.

Jeff Stansbury
Middletown Springs, VT
April 27, 2005

     Gretzel and I met Will and Ann just once, several years ago. The occasion was memorable for their graciousness in asking us to stay overnight and for what we learned of their commitment to a depth of justice that, in our social system, demands unwavering courage.

     Later Ann sent us a knitted sweater and some wool from their sheep. The gift of their staunch example will last even longer.

Rachel Katz
Gouldsboro, Maine
April 25, 2005

     It is with great sorrow that this trip onto the internet brings such sad news. I have taken a break from public life, learning how to farm, trying to be self-sufficient within my community, attempting to stick with technologies that are democratic and healthy; basically, living the change that I want to see. An idea inspired by my time spent with Will.

     As an organizer who was younger than many of the members of my activist community, I was always struck by the weight that Will gave to my theories, opinions, and ideas. It must have come from his many years as a teacher...or perhaps it was this quality, to let young people understand the importance of their thoughts, that made him such a powerful force to so many students.

     I think about his hopefulness and laughter, even when knowing that so much is wrong in the world, as a fine example to follow. It is love that keeps the revolutionaries going. Love for family, friends, trees, soil, birds, spiders, bears, catamounts. Will embodied this love and urged us towards a better world. His spirit will always be with us. As long as there is struggle, he will always be fighting.

     Ann, as I continue the important work of growing food and community, my thoughts are with you.

Rachel Katz

Anne Molleur Hanson
Sedona, AZ
April 23, 2005

     I have found this website to be a source of comfort and community since I first learned about Will's illness, and though I did not know Will for very long, reading others' writings to him and of him confirm my impression of Will as a remarkable soul—a powerful leader who lived humbly on this earth, a great example of humanity in its highest form—someone whom it was a real privilege to know, even if briefly. He is definitely one of the Great Ones I have encountered. I am amazed at how Will's passing has affected my life—the void that I feel knowing this leader is no longer here to lead us and inspire us, reassure us and inform us is tremendous. Yet I also know that the good energy generated by a person of his caliber will indeed live on and on—we already see evidence of that in this website, in the ways those who knew him have already rallied, marched, and remembered him. I regret that I am currently on the other side of the country and will be unable to attend his memorial on Sunday—I know this event will be a wonderful gathering of kindred spirits who will celebrate his life and grieve his death. Both are absolutely necessary for all who feel this loss to move on in our lives and work.

     Since I will be unable to contribute to that event in person, I'd like to offer my thoughts on Will's passing here, and to also propose a Word Memorial in his honor: that we expand our peace lexicon to include a much-needed word that appropriately bears his name.

     Will is in a rare category of people, and it seems he inspired all who knew him with his peacable way of standing for what he believed in, whether this meant living his personal life in a humble and sustainable manner, providing his students with an alternative and mind-expanding forum for learning, getting arrested through acts of civil disobedience, or by courageously confronting even the institution that employed him. To me, this unique breed of being deserves a title that sadly, does not yet seem to exist in our language—a word that describes one who firmly, assertively, and actively stands for peace and justice. The closest word that seems to exist is "warrior," and yet, this term carries the word "war," –the human-caused calamity that Will dedicated so much of his life to vanquishing. I think the appropriate term for someone like Will is a "Willior", and the pronounciation/definition would be:

Willior/ willee-er/ (noun) 1. one who firmly, assertively, and actively stands and works for the positive potential of humanity. 2. someone whose will and determination for peace and social justice is ultimately more powerful than those in power, than our most advanced weapons systems, even than the brutal schemes dreamt up by some humans whose lust for power and money is pathological and destructive.[The word Willior is inspired by the work and life of Will Miller, UVM Assistant Professor of Philosophy, noted Marxist, member of Veterans for Peace, and tireless peace and social justice activist whose encyclopedic knowledge of U.S. and world history, and his life experience informed his understanding of humankind, and his dedication toward a peaceful and equitable life for all humanity.

     I welcome anyone interested to embellish/correct/improve upon this definition, and I also encourage all of us who knew and loved Will to begin using this term, as a fitting tribute to him, and as a ways of expanding our vocabulary to include words that inspire our highest potential as people. And, may we all strive to be more like the marvelous Willior we knew and loved.

Luis Vivanco
April 22, 2005

     As the academic year comes to its tumultuous end, and I prepare for the annual rite of UVM senior thesis defenses, I find myself remembering back to a couple of years ago when I had the opportunity to serve on a thesis defense committee with Will. Although I knew him from our unionization work, I had never actually experienced Will's teaching although I knew from so many student testimonials that he was one of the greatest teachers on our campus. But here I could see it first hand. And it was impressive! Will had an amazing ability to be challenging and supportive, forceful and gentle. I learned something that day about teaching from mind and heart. Afterward, we took our successful student to lunch at the India House, and Will regaled us with tales of UVM's dysfunctions and hopes. As I think back on the humor and outrage we all shared during lunch, I remember what a rare privilege it is in life to be able to spend time with someone who is so passionate, hopeful, and strong as Will.

Derk Pereboom
April 22, 2005

Here's the UVM Faculty Senate Resolution I wrote on Will (minus the biographical information):

[Will's] scholarly interests, and the focus of his writing, were in American Philosophy, especially in the work of Charles S. Peirce, in philosophy of education, political philosophy, radical ecology, and animal rights.

The thousands of students he taught benefitted from his enthusiasm, his wealth of knowledge, and the model he provided as a skilled and passionate educator. Will taught his students how to think philosophically about many of the most significant issues we human beings confront. Not only did he teach them to understand and appreciate philosophical ideas, he also embodied the energy to combine theory and practice. He aimed to achieve philosophical insight, and to change the world through its guidance.

Will's service to student organizations and to the community was exceptional. He served as faculty advisor for the Radical Student Union, the Union of Concerned Students, the Gadfly alternative student newspaper, and the Student Political Awareness and Responsibility Collective. In our community, Will served the Vermont Veterans for Peace, Burlington Area Draft and Military Counseling, the Green Mountain Fund for Popular Struggle, the Vermont Cuba Committee, the Haymarket People's Fund, and the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador.

We mourn the loss of a generous, kind, thoughtful, compassionate person who devoted his life to the cause of social justice, peace, the environment, political freedom, and the rights of the oppressed.

Jesse Duarte
Columbus, Ohio
April 21, 2005

      I majored in philosophy at UVM (class of 02). I never studied with Will Miller, but i easily observed his positive influence on students and his genuine, deep commitment to REAL education. That is, edication minus the bullshit! And for that, it is clear that the world has suffered a great loss upon his passing. A model of human decency and moral integrity, Will shall not be forgotten...he made a fucking difference and inspired with deep passion that motive in so many over the years. Thank you, will.

Nancy Barker
Hannover, Germany
April 19, 2005

Will Miller

Thanks for the Memories
Dear Old Friend
Being Santa
For the Claus

Building Towers
To the Heavens
So we all Could
Sleep Better at Night
Under the Starry Light

Saving our Young Men
Saving our Young Women
From the Blight
We don't want them to Fight

Exchanging Ideas
In the Grand Union Parking Lot
Never Stops
Always on Top

March on Washington
Buses from Vermont to D.C.
No more War
Get out of El Salvador

Moms Marching to Save Our Sons
Show a Better Way
Gentle Way

Thank You, Will Miller

Nancy Barker
Underhill, Vermont

Jeff Marshall
Burlington, Vermont
April 18, 2005

Dear Ann,

     I was saddened to learn of Will's passing and hope you will accept my deepest condolences. I met Will twenty-five years ago in the anti-nuclear movement and, though we didn't stay in touch very regularly over the years, I considered him a friend and an ally from the first moment I met him. Wherever Vermonters were struggling for justice, Will was there, and he helped us all to see the connections between the struggles. What impressed me most about Will, among his many fine qualities, was the way he treated everyone with dignity and respect, the way he taught without condescension, and the cheer he brought to us all when things looked bleakest. I remember one incident when a fellow activist declared he was about ready to give up the fight, because the "other side" seemed to have complete control. Will told him, plainly but kindly, that we mustn't give in to paranoia -- that's what they want us to do, but in fact the people really do have the power, once they choose to recognize it. I've thought of that many times over the years, and I thnk of the real, positive influence Will has had on so many of us.

     I'm sure you are aware that many of us have been talking about what should be done with Will's archives -- among them Jay Moore (I haven't met Jay myself but my supervisor, Connell Gallagher, worked with him to get some of Dave Dellinger's papers), Ron Jacobs here in Bailey/Howe, and Nancy Welch in the English Department. I would be happy to discuss what Special Collections can do, whenever you are ready to do so.

Jerry Swanson
Ovando, Montana
April 17, 2005

     I want to share a taste of auld lang syne, and give Will's students an idea of what he was like as a young man in the Army, and perhaps why Will always supported Veterans for Peace. Will was always an optimist, always thought the world and lives of people he touched could be changed for the better, and in the end he did it.

     We were in the Army together and years later at UVM. What strikes me through both experiences is how significant images are repeated. Only the relevant characters change. The proper word is continuity. Will didn't hate the Army, he hated leadership that was a lie, and he hated perpetrators of that lie whether they were at Fort Devens or Fort Waterman. Bob Rice said it best: Will is authentic. I would add he was always authentic, and his Army time provides perspective.

     I met Will Miller around Oct 13, 1961. We were recalled during the "Berlin Crisis." Will had been in Germany as an electronics communications specialist, and I was a Chinese language translator/interpreter in Okinawa and Taiwan. We both put in 3 years in opposite sides of the world, both returned to our education, and were upset about being dragged back for another hitch. We had considered ourselves civilians again, and were not interested in being in uniform again. We found ourselves in Headquarters Company of the 324th USASA Bn,, Fort Devens, Mass, the Army Security Agency, an elite unit of communications specialists, spies really, but we were "fillers" for a reserve unit from Chicago. Will didn't know any of the reservists, but he knew they were Sunday soldiers making money by joining the reserves. Now they were on dreaded active duty, and had a suspicion of the "fillers." Amidst the Zombies, the Crazies (I was one of those), and the Alcoholics, Will was unusual: all he wanted was OUT.

     Will was selected squad leader and thus had the stairtop room with a door and lock, a status symbol because the leader's bunk didn't need to stand inspection. I'm proud to say Will was my squad leader. His roommate was another squad leader, Dick Yanul, who had a degree from the University of Chicago, was drafted previously, and was recalled. There was a lot of brain power in that barracks.

     When construction of the Berlin Wall began, JFK recalled 150,000 reservists, including those who had just been discharged. Our presence there was a charade – a show of force to back down Khrushchev from building the Wall. They had nothing for us to do. In my case, what does a Chinese translator do in Berlin? I responded by raising "bugging out" to an art form. Others spent the day playing pool. Will left the window unlocked in his room and I was able to open another, shimmey across the roof into his room where I read and slept until mail call. I slept in his rack during the day as much as he slept in it at night. Will and others would go off to some sort of class, and come back disgusted. Equipment in the classroom was obsolete, he knew more than the instructors, and there was zero sense of mission. We were all stage props in a Theater of the Absurd. What possible effect could this have on Khrushchev? We decided to send letters to Washington to appeal to Senators on powerful committees. Barry Goldwater got wind of it and wrote an article, quoted in the Boston Herald, calling the reservists "bitching six-month freeloaders." Will wrote a letter to the Herald in response, published November 30, 1961, saying:

"The reason for my recall is a 'critical military skill' but I have not been able to work in this field since I reported to Fort Devens six weeks ago and all indications are that I shall not for the remainder of the year. My situation is shared by at least one-third of the members of my battalion. Congress and the American people should be made aware of this situation."
     Congress and the American people found out very quickly. In military terms, this amounted to sedition. Will was called on the carpet by the Fort Devens Commander, Maj. Gen. William Verbeck, who gave Will a choice of an Article 15 (company punishment) or summary court martial. Will chose the lesser, company punishment. But on what grounds? All Will did was send a letter to a newspaper, which chose to publish it. Verbeck had to dream up something, so he "got" Will on an obscure Pentagon regulation that didn't even apply to non-officers.

     The Herald ran a story about Will's punishment, two weeks' restriction and special duty. This was picked up by many newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune and the London Times. The Herald and Tribune were anti-JFK and were delighted to print anything against the administration. Elvis Stahr, Sec'y of the Army, stepped in and rescinded Will's punishment, rewrote the Army regulation to exclude letters to editors, and ordered General Verbeck to personally apologize to Specialist Fifth Class Will Miller. This swept across the country like a tsunami and the Chicago Tribune's big headline read: GI GRIPE PENALTY REVOKED. When Will told us about Verbeck's apology, some didn't believe him. I knew Will; he wasn't fooling about something like this. We were stunned. I thought at the time: This isn't Kansas anymore, Toto.

     Now a deep sense of foreboding set in. Saturday mornings there were inspections – after our Friday night GI parties (cleanup), after which the barracks looked like a debris field. We weren't monks. Some of us were cleaning the place when guys from the next barracks started coming in and, saying nothing, started cleaning also. Soon there was a gang of them, and we had more people than jobs. They were there for Will. No one said a word, but we all knew what it was about. At midnight the place was immaculate. The next morning the inspectors came, and we could see they were commanded to find something wrong. An inspector took his knife, found a bit of rust inside a water faucet, and we were all restricted.

     Why were we there for Will? And why are we here now for Will? Sometimes leadership is used by individuals for their own ends – sometimes revenge. Things go surreal at this point. Verbeck put a new recruit in Will's squad, a guy with endless questions about Will. He was an obvious plant, clearly an officer, probably from the Judge Advocate General's Corps. They made a mistake assigning him as a Private First Class, when we were all Specialist Fifths. Will couldn't touch him, but I could; he was gone in a week.

     During our trivial barracks discussions, we spent a lot of time on whether Will should accept if offered the rank of retired General. I think a lot about that, and about Will's Volkswagen Beatle which he drove like a BMW. We went to Boston and caught a high school kid named Bob Zimmerman singing some Woody Guthrie songs; he was pretty good.

     Stahr eventually made his move. At mail call, Will ran up saying: "I'm going home; they kicked me out!" I couldn't believe it. He was being discharged. As happy as I was for Will, I was insanely jealous. Without Will the sense of adventure disappeared. I was sent to the National Security Base in Maryland for duty at a China desk, and Berlin lost their Chinese translator.

     I have noticed in photos that Will wears his Army fatigue jacket with his name tag and Sp-5 stripes when he leads war protests. After Will and I left, the Army barely survived. Stahr didn't survive; this one-time university president was sacked by JFK for incompetence. Ending up the good guy, he personally signed Will's discharge papers. Verbeck made yet another attempt at Will. He tried to prevent Will from getting an honorable discharge. Will asked Sen. Saltonstall (Mass.) and Sen. Douglas (Illinois) to intercede. We have to believe that the gate named after Verbeck at Ft. Devens is the one Will passed through as he left the Army. Will Miller, with a simple, honest letter to the Herald, sent 150,000 men and women home. Will said, 44 years later, "It was quite a ride."

     I remember most about Will that he was always willing to call a lie a lie. One of Will's favorite poems was by Wilfred Owen, who died in the trenches and whose last verse was:

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory, the old Lie:
Dulce et Decorum est pro patria mori.*

*It is sweet and right to die for your country.

Bob Rice
Westford, Vermont
April 13, 2005

Ghazal* for Will Miller

"Alas," he said, stroking his mustache, "eat squash and smash the landlord class!"
"No brass bands," he added, pacing in front of the philosophy class.

I remember his long blond hair and beard, his bouncy walk, threadbare jeans,
and his working on the south wall of glass like one of the labor class.

At dinner in the cabin, I noticed his nystagmic eyes and said,
"Please pass the parmesan; this olive oil and garlic sauce is first class."

The motorist he winched out of the snowy, country-road ditch was
not a jackass, only an unlucky member of the middle class.

At the anti-war demonstration, he addressed the large gathering,
not intending to harass the troops, just to indict the ruling class.

During the party, "a rainbow after long storms," he celebrated;
but his sometimes crass colleagues behaved almost totally without class.

In his dialogic approach, he engaged students where they live.
This "pedagogy of the oppressed" seeks to liberate all from class.

* The ghazal (pronounced "guzzle") is a form of poem developed in tenth-century Persia. This ghazal for Will is perhaps more whimsical than the traditional form prescribes.

Dawn Saunders
East Middlebury, Vermont
April 13, 2005

     It is so hard to imagine UVM without Will. What a force of nature! He was living proof that the will to make right that which is wrong can survive and thrive in the struggle. He was, and will continue to be, an inspiration to me.

     Thanks so much, Will! We will miss you. Say "hi" to Linda, and tell her we miss her too! Though better you both were here, I really like having the both of you at God's ear now.


Sarah Snider
Washington, DC
April 13, 2005


     My name is Sarah Snider, I knew will from various sources. I grew up in Burlington, and I have various memories of not only personal experiences with Will through taking his Philosophy of Education course at the University, and participating in SPARC, but also memories of events from my childhood that have shaped my life that in retrospect Will was a large part of.

     One of the most vivid and the earliest memories I have of activism is of the Shanty-town on the green and the divestment campaign of the 80's. I truly think that early in life I was instilled with a consciousness about race and imperialism because of the tactics employed by the university and local community to shed light on Aparthied and the universities involvement. I remember being in the grocery store on cherry street as a young child and the cover of the Burlington Free Press showed a picture of students taking over the president's office. These images are implanted in my brain and I have no doubt that Will had a mark on these events.

     I also remember attending Edmunds Middle School on Main street, and one Tuesday in 1991, an anti-Gulf War protest marched past the school. We were between classes in the 6th grade and several of us students just walked right out of the building and joined the protest. When the school tried to discipline us, some of our parents wrote permission slips allowing us to join the weekly protest. My mother would take Tuesday afternoons off of work to pick me up at school and join the march against the war. I was 12 years old, and I remember Will with a megaphone leading us in a chant in front of the Army Recruiting office downtown.

     I remember a day when I was in college after class coming home and turning on the news and seeing Will and several others, including my roommate in Congressman Sanders office protesting the bombing of Serbia. I remember how affected my roommate was by her experience being arrested for tresspassing and how this forever changed the way she talked about the State.

     I also remember as part of the debate team, coordinating to have Will debate Robert Kaufman. All we did was hang up a banner in front of the library and all of a sudden there were 400 people packed in the auditorium. It wasn't hard for Will to draw a crowd, that's how enigmatic he was.

     I've attached a picture of that day to this email. I want you to know that I have been regularly reading the web site, and in so doing I have been able to go back to some of the most influential events and images in my life and I can't help but know that Will was part of them all. I think that's a testament to how Will affected people. Even before I knew Will personally, his efforts to stand-up and speak out against injustice had an immeasurable impact on who I feel I have become.

Thank you so much for letting me share this with you,

Diana Bander
Brookline, VT
April 12, 2005


     Thank you for sending the obituary. He was remarkable. I will look for Friday's paper and send it to you if it hasn't gone into the trash bin. Otherwise, it was in the Brattleboro Reformer. I hope you are finding peace in the midst of your sorrow.

Love, Diana

Michael Cassidy
Colchester, Vermont
April 11, 2005

Dear Ann, friends, and comrades:

     I have found it difficult to share an entry in this journal. I never made one before Will died, but had made several failed attempts. Somehow I was unable to find my voice for this forum. I had enjoyed reading various entries from time to time, and Will expressed to me on several occasions how gratifying and encouraging this website was for him. I commented to him that although capitalism is still with us, he had obviously caused countless revolutions in the lives of innumerable people, mine among them.

     Since Will's death I have visited this site often. It has provided great comfort to me in the face of such profound and inexpressible loss. I know it will continue to give me strength in times ahead as well. I am so very grateful this site was created, not only for Will, but also for all of us who remain and are left to grapple with his passing. I keenly feel his presence in these pages of recollections and tributes.

     Although I did not make an entry on this site before Will died, thankfully I was able to express to Will directly, in person and in writing, how much he meant (means) to me. As I told Will in January and share here now:

"You have had a most profound and irrevocable impact on my life and on the core of who I am and how I see the world. My gratitude to you, Will, is immeasurable and utterly beyond words. My entire way of seeing and making sense of our world and of human history was fundamentally altered as a result of all you have taught and shown me, in terms of information, analysis and interpretive skills and critical thinking skills, as well as by example of how one ought to live and relate in this world. In short, aside from my mother and father who greatly shaped me in very different ways, you have most certainly had the single greatest impact of anyone on shaping me into the person I am in my adult life -- at least my good qualities, intentions and aspirations anyway. Though I have probably never said this to you, aside from being a dear, dear friend, teacher and mentor, you have always felt in many ways a "father" to me (in all the best sense I could mean that word -- a closeness, a real warmth and a sense of security and belonging whenever I've spent time with you that I only really felt with my Dad, with whom I was very close)."

     When I signed up for the Introduction to Philosophy class the first semester of my first year of college back in 1983, I had absolutely no idea that was to be such a profound and utterly life-altering choice. At the time, it just seemed like an interesting class to take, the kind of class one ought to take in college. It was an introduction all right! It was an introduction to an entirely new way of thinking and entirely new way seeing and making sense of the world. It was an introduction to Will, and so to one of the most important friendships and human relationships of my life.

     I'll always remember sitting in that class and marveling at Will's energy and his amazing passion and obvious love for teaching, his keen insights, and his ability to pull together so many different threads and offer a new perspective on basic assumptions of how the world was constructed. Here was a professor who insisted we call him by his first name, who always had a large green steel thermos full of hot black coffee fueling our twice-weekly high-energy encounter. And those wonderful sweaters! Those beautifully designed, heavy wool sweaters he often wore, that in my mind made him the coolest dressed professor too. Only later would I meet Will's amazing partner Ann, whom I learned had knit those great sweaters I'd been admiring.

     I too will never forget my first trip one weekend with other students to Will and Ann's hillside homestead in Westford to help haul and stack firewood, accompanied by engaging conversation. I was once again utterly blown away by Will and now Ann. These were two of the kindest, warmest and most sincere and genuine people I had ever met. And I was in complete awe of their place -- the amazing and unique house Will had built, the enormous collection of alternative posters upstairs, their composting toilet, the largest collection of bathroom reading material in the form of alternative press ever imaginable, their huge garden, Ann's beautiful hand-woven baskets hanging from the open beams, their sheep that supplied the wool for those sweaters, the old Land Cruiser with the license plate "DOUBT" that could go anywhere and haul huge loads of firewood out of their woods, and the fact that they heated their place solely with wood and the passive solar from the enormous two-storied and homemade windows making up the entire south face of the house.

     These are just some of the mental snapshots of the beginnings of what came to be such a close and enduring friendship with both Ann and Will. I count myself extremely fortunate that our lives have intersected as much as they have these past 22 years.

     At UVM, in the classroom I went on to take Will's courses in Marxism and then Philosophy of Education. Outside the classroom, I took Will's "courses" in activism and organizing, the struggle for social justice, and what it means to lead a good and meaningful life. I struggled along with Will and my fellow students against apartheid in South Africa and challenged the University Administration and Trustees over UVM's investments in companies doing business in South Africa. I was arrested with Will during that struggle. We worked together in opposition to the murderous wars in Central America, the so-called War on Drugs, military and CIA recruitment on campus, and much, much more.

     Subsequently, my decision to go to law school I largely attribute to Will. My purpose was to acquire skills that I could put to use in the struggle for social justice. While there, I helped revive the National Lawyer's Guild chapter. We organized, educated and agitated around numerous issues. We protested FBI and military recruitment, racism, homophobia, and the War on Drugs. We brought in speakers such as Michael Parenti and Bernadette Devlin. We set up a film series, trained in and offered military and draft counseling and protested against the first Iraq War. Will was among the speakers at a large rally we had against the War. While in law school I also helped Will organize a Grand Jury project for UVM students being investigated by federal prosecutors in connection with buses that were burned at UVM around the time of the Diversity University movement.

     My commitment to social justice fostered by Will led to my decision to focus upon prison law, prisoners' rights and civil rights. I've been fortunate to spend most of my career practicing in this area of the law representing prisoners, first in Vermont as a student throughout law school and then and now in upstate New York. Prisoners are by and large the poorest and most powerless segment of society, politically disempowered, in the greatest social disfavor, and in the most need of legal assistance since every aspect of their existence is governed by the State.

     After law school Ann and Will allowed me to hole up for awhile in their cabin to study for the bar exam. I'll always remember those sunny summer days studying in the tranquil little spot they created for me, with great meals and, of course, engaging discussions in the evenings. Later still, when I was working at Prisoners' Legal Services of New York in Plattsburgh and my wife Karen was in graduate school in Maine, I was partly living out of my office, partly on the road and in Maine, and partly at Ann and Will's. Without hesitation and without exception, they always generously offered to me a place to come to whenever I needed it.

     Aside from representing prisoners and immigrants, I have also represented activists. One group was folks arrested in the mid-90's during our protests at the National Governor's Conference, seeking to stop the then-impending execution of Mumia Abu Jamal. Later I helped represent Will and other folks arrested in 1999 at Bernie Sander's office, over Bernie's support for the U.S./NATO war and bombing in the Balkans.

     It was also around that time that I had the privilege of helping Will bring his grievance against UVM before the Vermont Labor Relations Board, for the many years of mistreatment by the University in retaliation for his outspoken views and union organizing. This is something I had long been appalled at and always wanted to help Will fight. Although we lost the grievance, it at least helped pull together in one place and document the history of Will's experience and treatment at the University, as well as the political firings of others at UVM. The grievance materials are all available at Will's website. While naturally disappointed that we lost, Will was not too upset, most especially because the unionization effort he had been carrying on and keeping alive for thirty years was finally coming to fruition. Will's view was always that it was far better to work collectively and that a union contract would be the only way to assure fair and equal treatment.

     Will and I also wrote several articles together about FBI COINTELPRO after a friend and fellow activist was visited and questioned by agents in such manner. These too are on Will's website.

     The Green Mountain Fund for Popular Struggle and the Little RED Fund. I can't forget these! It was such a pleasure to serve on the Boards of these twin left funding organizations with Ann, Will, Erik Sakai and Beth Mintz for approximately 12 years (roughly 1989-2001). At least three times a year we all met, usually at Will and Ann's, and spent the better part of a day discussing and deciding where to fund the movement for radical social change among the organizations that had applied for grants. It offered a unique perspective, over time, of the movement here in Vermont.

     There's so much more. This is just an outline of my involvement with Ann and Will and of the wider impact Will has had through his influence upon just my life's course, my choices and commitments. (And I've said nothing about how he taught me how to be my own electrician).

     Last week my relationship with Will came full circle in a way. Will's Intro to Philosophy 1 class was the first time I ever studied and discussed death from an intellectual and philosophical perspective, outside of religious teachings. It also turned out to be the last thing he taught me about, by way of direct experience. I feel privileged and deeply honored to have been with Will when he died. Despite the incredible loss I feel, I was so glad that I could be there with him and help him, holding his hand, and with Ann letting him know it was okay to let go, that his work was done here, and that we would all carry on the struggle.

And we will.

In struggle,
Mike Cassidy

If you have not done so, I'd like to encourage you to read Will's essay "Social Change and Human Nature." It's on his website. I find this one of the best and most cogent and concise arguments for why a more egalitarian and libratory society and end to capitalism does not run counter to human nature, and why bringing about such change is a social and ecological imperative. Ever Will's optimism and call to action.

Stuart Ashley
Westford, Vermont
April 10, 2005

     Will Miller was my advisor when I attended the University of Vermont from 1977-1979. I never knew him before then, in spite of the fact that I have lived my whole life in the town where Will settled down. He used to have a license plate that said simply 'Doubt' and a bumper sticker that said 'Question Authority'. I have made these sentiments my own, because of Will's teachings. Two years ago I sat with Will at town meeting. With my shaved head and face and his full beard and ponytail we must have presented quite a contrast. I joined the Marine Corps after studying under Will then became a police officer, which I was at our last meeting. I had, in a sense, become part of the authority Will encouraged the questioning of. Will said absolute power corrupts absolutely. I never gave in to that power and always tried to do my job with Will's morals and teachings to guide me. I will miss him greatly, but I will never forget his teachings or his example of how to live simply.

Larry Hamilton
Charlotte, VT
April 7, 2005

Friends, and fellow mourners:

     I did not go on the computer all Friday due to other activity, so just got the notice of Will's passing late on Friday. It is now Saturday AM. Not in time to join the group yesterday at UVM. I will, however, break my neck to get to the TV show on Sunday. Fitting that it be a tribute to Will.

     I have only had interaction with Will for less than a year, as a recent member of V f P, but, in those few monthly meetings, and in the parades and rallies I have been in awe of his dedication, wide-ranging knowledge and compassion. I wish I had known him for a much longer time, but cherish what time we did share. He will be mightily missed, a champion has left us. But he left us a legacy of inspiration, not to be discouraged, but to keep fighting the atrocious ideologies related to war.


Phil Gasper
Belmont, CA
April 7, 2005

     I first met Will when I was teaching in Vermont in the late 1980s. It was wonderful to meet someone who had managed to survive in academia (just!) without abandoning his political principles. Will and I were fellow members of the Radical Philosophy Association. I always thought he was one of the few people who got the balance right--a political activist first and an academic a distant second. Will put his political principles into practice. He was an inspirational figure and I shall miss him.

Phil Gasper
Professor of Philosophy
Notre Dame de Namur University
Belmont, California

Dave Ross
Essex Junction
April 6, 2005

Wills Testimonial: Missing Notes

     Will Miller is a Marxist revolutionary. Not "revolutionary" as in "a radical new revolutionary consumer product" hyped by Wall Street marketing gurus with an eye to selling in volume. The newthink and language perversion so prophetically laid out in George Orwels 1984 has been with us since the 50s and earlier. Like the marketing gurus, many of us consider ourselves and our political offerings "revolutionary." We are "radicals," "leftist," "progressives." But are we revolutionaries?

     Will is a revolutionary and there is a lot we can learn from his example. First and foremost, he is a Marxist Revolutionary. There is a philosophy and logic of action behind his contribution to every struggle he engages in, and there have been many of them.

     The core teaching of Marxism calls for the empowerment of regular everyday people to take control of their lives, working conditions and environment. This requires a transition from the greed of capitalism (everything I can get is mine – everything else be dammed) to a social construct that values all life and seeks to create conditions that liberate the fullest potential in all of us.

     Marxism is not the simplistic redistribution of wealth under a "benevolent" dictatorship. It is a "dictatorship" of everyone and all of their organizations in which decision making and resource allocation result from profound debate (struggle) that flows both from the bottom up and the leadership down ultimately resulting in a unified policy.

     Yes, there will be a great redistribution of wealth and resources, but that is only a piece of the picture. The real picture is an end to war, racism, sexism and the art of the rip-off. The big picture is the liberation of the human spirit – a new consciousness that ask, "how can I help?" rather than "what can I get out of it?"

     The revolution of Will Miller is "dialectic." It seeks to advance through resolution of the "tension" between "theory" and "practice."

     Theory lays out the principles and guidelines. Practice is the resulting "action program." Neither is static – both seek to inform and modify each other. At each step, one ask what's working, what's not working, what lesson have we learned, how do we alter our approach to make better progress under the conditions we are operating under? This is philosophy in action at its best. Will is a person of action. He doesn't just talk – he acts, and he does so with intelligence and compassion.

     Will is a teacher, but he is also a learner, always sensitive to other opinions. He always ask for the thoughts and ideas of others and works to build consensus that will lead to action. He also has the strength of character and force of personality to get things moving when the process has bogged down. Some call this being doctrinaire. Others call it leadership.

     Most of us would prefer a nonviolent revolution, especially guys like Will and myself who have experienced the military first hand and share an intimate knowledge of the true nature of modern warfare. War is, after all, the socially sanctioned mass killing of humans, both military and civilian, and destruction of the environment for political reasons – read for power and its reward in the form of wealth, power (the ability to get more wealth) and resource control.

     We have studied history and it has taught us that whenever social movements gather such widespread support that they are able to seize power (the ultimate expression of democracy), those in power will strike back with every brutal means at their disposal.

     A reporter once asked J. Gould, one of the richest and most powerful American capitalists of his time, if he were afraid of communism. "Why should I be," he replied "when I can hire half the working class to kill the other half."

     Many of us share an infantile trust that our government will never actually turn on us. History shows that it has already called out the military to shoot down strikers and student demonstrators, sent agents to murder or frame up activist, infiltrate and disrupt our organizations and it continues through the current "disappearing" of our constitutional rights: government and the corporate interest it represents have always acted against our common interest.

     Will noted that Malcolm X once said "self defense is the highest form of consciousness." While none of us want, and would not initiate, acts of violence as a political tactic, let us also not forget pacifist friend and mentor Dave Dellenger's admonition that he would rather see a violent revolution than none at all.

     Who will defend the Movement? Who will fight when the government actually implements a program similar to Husten Plan that President Nixon actually had in place in case he "needed to round" up all the antiwar and other radicals? Are you armed, trained, organized and prepared to defend against that midnight knock on the door? Yes, revolution is heavy stuff.

     Are you a politically active member of a for real group? Have you the courage of your convictions? Will you make sacrifices and fight for social change without reservation and in whatever fashion circumstances require of you? Will you fight for and defend your sisters and brothers? Are you a revolutionary? Will Miller is, and that is why we both love and fear him.

     Our true testimonial to Wills life work and loving spirit will lie not just in our appreciative words but even more so in our revolutionary actions. Revolution Now!

Dave Ross

David White-Lief
Westwood, MA
April 6, 2005

Dear Ann,

     I am sorry I have been such an absent correspondent­I know Jan sent a card a while ago, shortly after you started sharing the news about Will. I, unfortunately, tend to find myself speechless when confronted with issues of mortality.

     You are absolutely amazing! Your love has never been nothing but supreme, and your caring for Will knows no comparison. I can't imagine any person having more comfort or care in such a rough time than that given by you.

     I have such fond memories of our visits to you and Will, brief and infrequent as they were. Your home was so welcoming, the conversation so intense and lively, the setting so perfect, and even the chores were fun. I've done a little construction here and there since working on your barn, but I remember really enjoying helping get some of the siding up on the upper level of the barn oh so many years ago.

     Will has touched and challenged so many people. One of his legacies will the manner in which he has changed the way so many people think about themselves and their world. For me, even when I am wandering in the mainstreams of political thought I have in the back of my mind, "What would Will think of this?" The answer is always obvious! Sorry about that Will!

     Please give Will a hug and a kiss from all of us. Our love is with you both.


Karen Monkman
Chicago, IL
April 6, 2005

Dear Ann,

     I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. It has been inspiring, though, to hear about the website, and to get periodic updates from you about his condition over the past weeks. That process can only help in the long run to continue feeling the richness and positive qualities of the relationship, and hopefully that thought can help you through this hard time. Even though I only met Will briefly once, I feel like I have gotten to know him a bit more through the website and your e-mails. Thanks! I appreciate that opportunity.

     I do hope you take care of yourself now. It sound like you have a wide social network and that they are active support for you. I wish I were closer and could offer more than an occasional e-mail. Know you are in my heart and mind, though.


Paul Corologos
Burlington, Vermont
April 6, 2005

Dear Ann:

     Sharon and I were moved by the poignant e-mails regarding Will's struggle to live. Words such as courageous, self-reliant,and humility come to mind as we read those heart aching and sometimes joyous descriptions of his activities over the last few months. Judging from the marvelous obituary and news accounts of his passing, Will will be missed by many people who truly understood the significance of his life work- the struggle for social justice. Will has earned his rightful place as a true spokesperson for social causes in Vermont and the national scene. He has left an enduring legacy.

     Sharon and I love the idea of a lecture series dedicated to Will and his work. We 'll be sending a check to you by the end of week to use to support this important concept.

     Will left us too soon. His life was short but exceedingly full. Many of us can only hope to accomplish half as much in our lifetimes. May he rest in peace.

     Ann, I realize these are difficult times for you. I know you are a strong, independent person; however, if there is anything we can do to help you through this period of time, please let me know. You were always so helpful to me as we met the many challenges at school. I knew I could rely on you to resolve a thorny issue or at least brainstorm a reasonable alternative strategy. You are such an asset to Browns River and such a good friend to everyone.

     Please know that we think of you often and we are so grateful to have been included on your e-mail list. To use a Deb Chisholm phrase- I've been beaming positive thoughts upwards hoping that good things will cascade down around you which will bring you joy and happiness.

     I know you must be moving at a frenetic pace, but when things slow and you are ready, let's continue our Friday afternoon meets with Deb and Sandy. We have so much to catch up on. Until then, I'll continue to beam up positive thoughts...

With true sadness for today and enduring happiness for the future

Sue Sakai
Randolph, VT
April 5, 2005

Dear, dear Ann,

     Thanks so much for calling Eric last night--you must be exhausted from having to tell everybody the sad news. Eric and I are worried about you ... you've been through so much--too much! We're glad to know your parents will be there with you through the weekend.

     What a hole there must be in your heart ... In all of our hearts! Will was so lucky to have you in his life for all those years. I don't think he could have asked for a better best friend than you, Ann. You two were, and still are, such a special couple. I like to think that in some fashion you two will hook up again some day. Maybe you two will re-appear as two robust sheep, not afflicted with any sort of ailments.... And you can just graze on green, green pastures all day, with not a care in the world! After all, who really knows what's next on the agenda for us, right?

     It seems that sometimes when someone dies we feel their presence so heavily with us. I hope that this will be the case for you. I hope you won't be overwhelmed by the profound silence and finality of it, and instead will feel Will hovering over you as I know he is....

     I'm so glad Eric got a chance to see Will last weekend--thanks for making sure he did, Ann. And I'm so glad Tessie and I got to see him this past winter when he was rallying. I told Eric that it was funny to see him without a beard and a mustache. I never realized before that he was pretty much a constant smiler! This will be my enduring image of Will--the one I'll rest my mind on--it's a cold winter's day and he's sitting in your living room, just smiling away.... Talking politics, of course, and smiling away the day.

     Reiko was so sad to hear the news, too (Tessie is too young yet to really get it, I guess). You are on all of our minds, all the time.

     I hope that somehow you will find little ways to mend your broken heart. You're probably overwhelmed with visitors and just the tasks that you have to attend to, but please know that I have my arms around you in my mind, hoping that you will find even more reserves of strength to deal with this.

     Please, please do let us know if there is anything at all that would help you right now, Ann.

We love both of you lots and lots!

P.S.--I sent cc's of this e-mail to Eric and Will, just to pretend it's the four of us together one last time... Somehow I didn't want to see your e-mail address up there all alone, you know?

Peter Lipsitt
Brookline, MA
April 5, 2005

Dear Ann,

     I remember Will as such a vital, engaging guy, who with a gentle respect, would nudge folks to think harder about life as we know it, and to resist the blandishments and lies of the rich and powerful. And if everyone did that kind of thinking all along, the world would be a much better place than it is now. Many have loved him for that and it is part of what we gained from knowing him.

     I hope you take solace from all the wonderful years you and Will had together and the support you gave each other. In time and in a while the strength of your loving relationship will help you, I think, though his loss is overwhelming right now. With love from us flatlanders down here,

Cindy Milstein
Barre, Vermont
April 5, 2005

     Like many others, I intentionally moved to Vermont years ago not only because of the natural and architectural beauty but also because of the leftie politics and living vestiges of community as well as direct democracy. Vermont is indeed a unique place, at least in relation to the rest of the United States. But what makes this tiny state especially compelling as a place to call home and engage in social struggles are people like Will Miller. Indeed, Will has meant so much to me over years -- particularly as an anti-capitalist and tireless activist; he challenged my political assumptions at a critical time -- when I was being radicalized by doing municipal, statewide, and internationalist organizing work with Will and others in the Burlington area. Although I eventually turned toward anarchism instead of marxism per se, I'll never forget how much Will influenced me to think beyond reformist strategies and dedicate myself to a revolutionary perspective, as I'm sure he did for numerous others. The cordial arguments we took up on a variety of intellectual and political issues have, to this day, helped me (and many others) hold steadfast to the lifelong fight for a free and egalitarian society. Will's own never-ending commitment to and enthusiasm for transforming the world for the better was a great inspiration, and will be for many, many years to come.

     I'll also never forget the warmth, hospitality, and love Will (and Ann, of course) both showed me years ago during many wonderful evenings at their home, visiting as well as housesitting, enjoying our border collies together, and getting my first (and only!) lesson in sheep shearing. The love that Will and Ann built and kept strongly alive is yet another inspiration: politics is never enough; we need to care about, respect, and show affection for one another. It's difficult to imagine Will without Ann, or Ann without Will, as they lived what it meant to be both distinct individuals and tender life partners.

     Whenever I think of Will, I also can't help but visualize the twinkle in his eye and his joyous smile that always made everyone around him smile too (except those he was battling against!). I'll miss him at demonstrations, lectures, and other political events, where I could always be assured of his friendly hug and ever-optimistic outlook -- and usually a rousing speech to boot.

     I read over all the other Web postings before writing my own. Not only was it immensely touching to note about much Will deeply touched so many of our lives over so many decades -- through his teaching, activism, and friendship -- but it also revealed the tremendous legacy that Will left behind. That is the measure of a life well lived and worth living. And it is a standard that we should all aspire to. The Web postings are, I hope, also a source of sustenance for you, Ann, during what must be the worst of times; know how loved you are as well, and how many of us are thinking of you, are there to help if needed, and will be there on April 24 to share a fond tribute to Will with you.

     Thanks, Will, for all you've given to the world. Vermont will be far emptier without you.

Love to you both!

Karen Dawson
Burlington, Vermont
April 5, 2005

Dear Ann,

     I am wishing strength for you and hope that you can take the time you will need for yourself in these next few days. so sorry for you and sorry for the world.

I always got a boost from seeing Will. I am thinking that he is with us all, now always in our memories as the icon of strength, and truth to power.

Thanks for keeping me in the loop. I was outside the hospital when he was dying. just a coincidence; I was catching the bus. it's too sad!

Karen Dawson

Neil Heims
Paris, France
April 5, 2005

Dear Ann,

     Iren and I want to extend our deepest condolences.

     As I knew him, Will was a courageous, principled, tender, generous, and an exceptional man.

     I am grateful for the opportunity I had to work with him from time to time and to have known him.


Bill Dorsch
Grand Isle, Vermont
April 5, 2005


     Ellen and I just learned of Will's death through your email. Please excuse this modern way to communicate. I know Ellen has written you a card from us. But I wanted say something promptly and also convey our heartfelt condolences for your massive loss.

     I liked Will a lot and very much respected him. Will was a principled, caring man - best referred to as a fine man. I have always felt fortunate to know both of you. And the times I talked to Will always left me with his strong, caring feelings for the well being of humanity. And also left me with information I did not have before.

     I remember well Will's influence on decisions made during the Winooski 44 trial. Never did Will say a thing that was not well considered. You did not have to agree with Will to respect his thoughts and concerns and to feel your contrary ideas got his respect and consideration.

     Unfortunately, both Ellen and I will be out of the state on April 24. We will be with you in spirit, but cannot attend physically. I know that there will be many attending who have wonderful feelings and memories about Will and I regret I will not be able to hear them.


Arnie Fertig
Newton Centre, MA
April 5, 2005


     Gail and I join your many other friends in extending our condolences to you! We were both touched and saddened by your latest email telling of Will's passing. He was a man of great intelligence, character, and compassion. His absence will be felt not only by you, but by the many, many people whose lives he touched! May his memory be a blessing, however interpreted, for all who knew and loved him.

Arnie Fertig

Nevin Zablotsky
Shelburne, VT
April 5, 2005

     It was with great sadness that I read about Will's passing. I regret that I was unable to write this sooner so that he could know how much I admired him. Will took on the tough job of pointing out our society's insanities. Unfortunately, some things do not change. Hopefully we all can gain extra strength from Will and keep try to help work towards that elusive goal of peace.

Nevin Zablotsky

Amey Radcliffe
Westford, VT
April 4, 2005

     My partner Manny and I lit a candle the night we learned of Will's death. May his fire live on in all of us. We are deeply saddened by the loss of such a special man. I submitted the following letter the Wednesday before Will's death, sadly it didn't show up on the site. I'm sending it again, hoping Will will get it just the same. Lots of love to you, Ann.

March 30, 2005

Dear Will,

     My heart goes out to you and Ann with the latest turns in your health. I have not known you long or well, but I have been touched by you as so many have. We are neighbors, but in our hilly corner of Westford, that doesn't mean we run into each other often. I believe we first met when our road washed out in 1998 and we were all out inspecting the damage. After that I noticed that your name seemed to come up often, when I mentioned I lived in Westford. Either a former student or someone who knew of you... "isn't that where that lefty UVM professor lives?"

     Oddly enough, where I really began to get to know you was through the videos I was given of your RETN Roundtable interviews. The knowledge you hold on Iraq, terrorism, media issues, history and so much more, astounds me. And what equally astounds me is the calm, gentle and patient way you deliver the information. You are as much sage as radical, and the combination is powerful and engaging. I have learned a lot from those videos and I have shared them with my family members. My 80 year-old Mom is a big fan of yours!

     More recently, we've had more occasions for live contact with you and Ann. Ann and I had the pleasure of working together, you shared your electrical expertise at our house, and we partook in a hay moving workday and visit at your house. Again I have been struck by your kind heart and gentle way. I appreciated the time you, Manny and I spent sitting in the crow's nest of your house looking at Mt. Mansfield, talking about some of your experiences with cancer. There was something so peaceful and "in the moment" about it, that it stays with me. Thank you for your warmth, spirit and passion.

     With inspiration for your continued journey,
Amey Radcliffe

Judy Ashley
St. Albans, Vermont
April 4, 2005

     It was a privilege and honor to know Will. During my working years at UVM (1990-99)I was involved with union organizing and anti-racism initiatives. I will always remember Will as the clear voice in a crowded world of false words and information. I distinctly remember his facilitating the posting of all of the salaries at UVM! This opened up many discussions and provided some needed transparency of the real situation for many, many people.

     His activism never wavered. His determination never faltered. Oh, what he might have done in "retirement!"

     For those of us who stood beside him we are forever changed and his energy lives within our hearts. May we all continue to build solidarity in his memory.

Christopher Hill
Burlington, Vermont
April 4, 2005

     I first met Will in 1991 when the Gulf War was beginning. A number of us organized what became the Green Mountain Veterans For Peace chapter. Although my participation over the years has been sporadic, I was inspired, informed and occasionally infuriated by Will.

     We disagreed upon occasion, but I have met very few people who were as steadfast in their dedication to human rights, economic justice and the dignity of all who share this planet with us.

     I will miss Will and his message.

David Lustgarten
Champlain College
April 4, 2005

     I saw the obituary in the Free Press yesterday. First, I offer my condolences to his family and friends. I had never met Will Miller, but clearly I wish I had. I teach art and design here at Champlain, and I have a particular interest in William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement; I am sure Will had been familiar with this utopian material, and I would have like to discuss these topics with him.

     Alas, that is not to be. I do urge you to continue to share his work with the public. Are there writings of his that have been published, or will be published? I would also like to offer some advice with respect to the web page. I know the color red has important symbolic meaning, but as a background it makes it extremely difficult to read the material on it. There is an almost electric effect, and it creates a strong "after image" of green blue as the eye moves around the screen. I hope I am not being too bold or presumptuous in offering this advice!

Thanks for listening,

David Rosenburg
London, England
April 3, 2005

     Nearly seven years ago we had a very special few days with Will and Ann. The four of us myself, Julia and our twin sons Jacob and Reuben were on holiday from England we had been in Canada where I was investigating my father's roots for the first time. We crossed at Niagara, went thorough some decidedly right-wing territory in New York state and a few days later arrived in the socialist republic of Ann and Will's residence.

     Julia and Ann are related but hadn't seen each other for many years. We had never met Will. Very soon though it felt as if we had known him always. Like myself his hair was in a ponytail, and on his head a cap with the word "Unity". Ann and Will introduced us to their animals. I thought we were the only family in the world whose pets had surnames, but here we met a cat called Alexander Berkman and sheep called Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela. Jacob has always been at one with animals but I don't think he had spent time with socialist animals.

     Jacob and Reuben fell in love with the house and with Ann and Will. On the plane over to Canada, Reuben had been reading Castaneda's biography of Che Guevara. In Will he found a fellow reader who could discuss it with him in fantastic detail. We slept upstairs during those few days and each time we went up there we passed the badges, the books, the magazines and the posters – it was like walking through a museum of radical struggles – but it wasn't a museum because for Ann and Will the struggle continues. Outside the house, was a car. But it wasn't the car as such that grabbed my attention; it was the bumper sticker: "I'd rather be smashing US imperialism!" Wouldn't we all? Well the four of us are doing our best on that from this side of the water.

     Our short stay was an inspiration to all of us, and today, writing about it, we are thinking of you, Will and Ann.


Julia Bard
London, England
April 3, 2005

     Will has been such a significant influence on our sons, Jacob and Reuben, even though we live far away. When we visited Ann and Will's amazing home in Vermont, when the boys were only 12, they were treated like adults, and immediately engaged in political discussion, introduced to all the animals (and thumbnail sketches of the activists they were named after), as well as to Will's incredible collection of T-shirts, bumper stickers and other campaigning material. And so it has continued.

     Now they are at university and Will's example of an adult who has never compromised on his socialist principles, who has never stopped campaigning and working to make the world a better place, however great the challenge, has been a reference point for them. The perceived wisdom is that radicals mellow; they become less radical as they grow older. Will and Ann have shown Jacob and Reuben (and all the rest of us) that this is rubbish – that we don't have to succumb to the pressure to compromise on peace, justice, and human rights; that we don't have to narrow our horizons or focus on our own interests at the expense of other people; that the fight can, must and does go on.

     Will, we're thinking of you and Ann, and so are Jacob and Reuben, for whom you are such an important friend and cousin. We're all so lucky to have you in our lives.

With all my love

Josh Lincoln
Waterbury, VT
April 3, 2005

      I was very saddened to learn today of Will Miller's passing. Ann, my thoughts are with you. While it does not surprise me, it is extraordinary to read this sight and to see all the peoples lives that Will touched in so many ways. I will greatly miss our visits and his tremendous spirit. I hope that he was extrememely proud of his accomplishments during his life, he deserved to be.

John Franco
Burlington, Vermont
April 3, 2005

     Will and I went back nearly 35 years to the time of his eloquent condemnation before the Faculty Senate of the UVM's 1971 firing of Michael Parenti. Always an activist and mentor.

     Want to know why Vermont is now the outpost of resistance to red state (talk about an oxymoron) Bush conservatism? Why it is such an outspoken bastion for peace and social justice? Why it has consistently reelected a socialist to Congress for the past decade and 1/2?

     In large part because of the life work of people like Will, who mentored and inspiried.

     PS: Its fitting that his memorial service will be held on April 24th -- the anniversary of one of the nation's largest anti-war marches ever held -- April 24, 1971.

Sherrill Musty
April 2, 2005

     Meeting Will Miller soon after arriving in Vermont (1968) set me on a path of social and political sensitivity. I thank him so much for that.

     I also thank him for the fun we had in those days. Although there were deadly serious issues consuming our thoughts, Will's wit and humor made me laugh my head off every time we got together and that was frequent then.

     Will was generous with his time and agreed to be a scholar on a grant I had through the Vermont Council on Humanities and Public Issues. (The project was "From Charity to Rights" regarding the integration of developmentally disabled individuals in schools and everyday society, right up Will's alley.) He served on a panel at numerous public forums throughout Vermont. The drives to distant towns were long but never dull. You can imagine how deep and rich the discussions were with all that good time available.

     I wish so much I had seen him more recently. This is a tough way to be reminded to stay in touch with people.

Ruth M. Sprague, PhD
South Burlington, Vermont
April 2, 2005

     There will not be many who remember when the Department of Anatomy charged me with fraud, gave me a "hearing" where the accuser was the jury and the judge.

     One faculty member came to my aid and he was Will. The Anatomy faculty turned their collective backs on me in fear of reprisals.

     Will not only stood by me but he shamed others who claimed to be against discrimination.

     He demonstrated what one person can do and he has had a great influence on my life --doing whatever I can to encourage women to be -- not just to swim with the current.

Thank you, Will.

Jay Weedon
April 2, 2005

     II've been away from Vermont for what seems like half a lifetime now, but have all kinds of vivid memories of Will's tireless activism. In the 1980s when I knew him there seemed to be no meeting of political progressives not attended by Will and his coffee flask; no rally that lacked one of his incisive addresses.

     His patience in gently leading students toward grasping issues of peace and justice was astonishing - he was a great teacher, and by his actions the exact opposite of the armchair philosopher. I still titter at his anecdote that he only once ever voted for a president who was elected: in 1964, when LBJ ran on the "peace platform".

     May fond memories of Will Miller live always in the hearts of those who knew him.

Nathan Moore
North Stonington, Connecticut
April 1, 2005

     Will Miller was the first left radical voice that I heard when I attended UVM. And for this reason he has contributed to my development as a political activist and a radical.

     When I was a freshman at UVM during the spring of 1999 there was a debate held in the Biology lecture hall titled "Should the U.S. be the World's Policeman?". The debate was held between Will Miller and Bob Kaufman. At the time I was politically naive and taking an international relations course with Kaufman. So I entered the debate on the side of Kaufman (!!!), a neo-con, who of course held the position that the US should be the world's policeman.

     The lecture hall was packed and polarized; one half of the room cheering on Kaufman as he finished his remarks and the other jeering for Will on the left side of the ring. Will's account of the barbarity of U.S. imperialism was so thick and thorough I remained paralyzed in my seat and left the event confused.

     This was the first blow to the ruling ideas I held at the time. Less than a year later I found myself protesting the School of the Americas with the ISO.

     Will's memory will be kept alive.

Carmyn Stanko
Pres, UE Local 267, UVM
April 1, 2005

     I seem to be walking around in a bit of a fog today, catching myself drift off with the words that you passed on yesterday. It just seems too soon. Working with you on the Haymarket Foundation, almost driving off your bridge a number of times, talking about electrical problems, Stella scooting under the electrical fence and chasing the sheep. The fireworks that went slightly array. So many times our lives weaved in and out as we saw each other at so many causes over the years. The night I saw you at MAT as we counted ballots and won, becoming UE Local 267. So long for now Comrade,sleep well.

Love Carmyn

Laura Crain
Underhill, Vermont
April 1, 2005

     I have been unable to write these words down until now. Every time I have come to this site to add my words, my eyes fill with tears. It is not something I have ever done well…to acknowledge that someone I care about and admire will soon die. Will has died and I am so sad. I first met Ann and Will about 8 years ago, when Ann and my partner Sandra were on the Board of Outright Vermont together. Ann, Will, Sandra and I stood and walked in solidarity on many occasions. This past Summer at Burlington Queer Pride, Sandra and I were busily helping to decorate the Love Makes a Family float, when I looked up and saw Will (peace banner in hand) and Ann with their smiling faces. Our two sons made sure they were loaded up with plenty of party necklaces for the day. Seeing Will and Ann throughout these years, I have filled up with warmth and happiness because of their open hearts and spirits.

My love to Ann. My love to Will.

Mecke Nagel
Cortland, New York
April 1, 2005

     I am saddened to hear about Will's passing today. While I did not know Will personally, I find his commitment and passion for social justice inspiring for us younger radical philosophers to continue on his path. The Radical Philosophy Association is very grateful for his contributions to our cause.

Si se puede! Will, presente!

Mecke Nagel, RPA co-chair

Robin Cappuccino
West Wheelock, Vermont
March 31, 2005

     Word of Will Miller's passing brings both a sense of great sadness at the loss of his youthful enthusiasm for and untiring dedication to the struggle for peace and justice, and a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation for having had the opportunity to lean on and learn from his so very articulate perspective on our critical role in that struggle.

     I had the privilege of working with Will most recently on the campaign against depleted uranium weaponry, one of the very many campaigns to benefit greatly from his engagement. The following letter is one I wrote to local papers here in Vermont while on a recently completed trip to parts of Asia. I'd like to share it and re-dedicate it to Will's memory having thought of him and our work together while writing it. -


Dear Editor, February 12, 2005

     I am writing from Hyderabad, India, traveling here as a Board Member of Child Haven International, visiting Child Haven's homes for some 850 destitute children in India, Nepal, Tibet and Bangladesh. It has been my good fortune and privilege to have been surrounded by and engaged in the lives of children for much of my life. First as a child of parents who adopted 19 children, many from war-torn countries such as Vietnam, Bangladesh and Korea, later as a young Sunday-School teacher in the church my father served as minister in Pointe Claire, Quebec. Then, after moving to Vermont in 1972, as a teacher's aid and eventually director of the parent co-operative pre-school and kindergarten in Greensboro Bend, the Caspian Area Center. The innocence, beauty, promise and hope for the future, our own, and all the world's children represent, never ceases to amaze, humble and inspire.

     The tragic lives of countless children and the stark disparities between members of our human family are unavoidably visible here. All too common are children of all ages spending their entire day scrambling through traffic begging in the belching smog, children with vacant, hopeless eyes and all too empty stomachs. Equally unavoidable, is the conclusion that through the war in Iraq, our best resources as a nation, both human and material, are being horrifically misapplied. The war we as a people need to be, must be, engaged in with all the strength and determination we are capable of, is the war on hunger, hopelessness, poverty and disease. This is the only war that will bring us a safer, more humane and livable future. George Bush's war on the Iraqi people stands in direct opposition to every principle and value I have learned through the love of my family. It is contrary to the most important lessons I have ever tried to teach the children in my care, and in it's devastatingly destructive use of over $100 billion of our earth's recourses, is an inexcusable theft from all those who hunger and need and have not.

     One need not have adopted and come to love children from other counties as one's own, to know that each mother's grief for the 1,400 US soldiers killed in this war, is no more or less felt than that of the mothers of the 100,000 Iraqis who also have died, too many of them children. Let us also remember the thousands who have been maimed, who have lost a limb or been blinded, or the many thousands psychologically wounded as well. This war will bring death and destruction for generations to come through our rampant use of weapons made with depleted uranium. The remnants of these weapons will cause cancers and other diseases among both Iraqis and US soldiers callously exposed to their usage by an administration all too willing to violate human lives.

     I am deeply saddened and indeed horrified that children I grew to be so fond of as pre-schoolers, who's sense of kindness, compassion, and justice I and their parents so carefully sought to engender, are now placed in a position where they have been ordered to kill or be killed in support of a war void of any visible moral pre-text or necessity. There are no weapons of mass destruction to show, no connection to 9-11, no demonstrable necessity to remove Sadaam Hussein from power before UN sanctions and world community had time to act. The only pretext for this war appears to be an administration dominated by the blind, reckless and self-deluded interests of oil and weapons industry profiteers all too ready to trade human lives for material gain. The billions spent servicing their desires could have instead by some estimates, totally eradicated world hunger for 5 years, completely turning around cycles of death and deprivation on a scale never seen before. Our continued presence in Iraq can only lead to more death and destruction on all sides. Our withdrawal will place the solution to the devastation we have created in the hands of regional and international mediators with the legitimacy and credibility our government now so dismally lacks.

     When the lives of those we love, and the lives of any members of our human family are unjustly placed in grave danger by our government, it is our responsibility, as participants in this democracy to respond. The resolution before many of our Vermont Town Meetings this year seeking to recall Vermont's National Guard Troops from Iraq, represents a modest and appropriate means toward this very end. We owe it to those members of our National Guard and indeed all of our Armed Forces, who so selflessly offered of themselves for our greater good, to ensure that their precious lives and well-being must not be squandered. Indeed it is a sacred trust we owe all our earth's children. Let each of us, in our own unique way, do what we are best able, to bring this senseless war to an end.

Robin Cappuccino,
West Wheelock

Ron Jacobs
Burlington, Vermont
March 31, 2005

Death of a Revolutionary: Vermont Loses an Honest Man

     A very good friend and an inspiration to thousands of activists, radicals, revolutionaries and thinkers, died today. He was a teacher and a student, in life, in the classroom and in the streets. He was anathema to those who disagreed with him and had very little tolerance for bigotry and injustice or the people who perpetrate such sores on the flesh of humanity. He was an encyclopedia of history, thought, and living off the land. I am not alone when I say that he was a brother. My heart goes out to those who were closest to him. My mind wonders how the radical community in Vermont and anywhere else he touched down will fill the huge hole he has left in our collective histories.

Will's hero was John Brown. Like Brown, Wills hair was long and his beard was often unkempt. Also like Brown, Will believed in the propaganda of the deed. An example that comes quickly to my mind occurred soon after Bill Clinton and his band of killers launched the aerial bombardment of Yugoslavia and Kosovo in the spring of 1999. Will, other activists, and I spent many hours tabling in front of the University of Vermont (UVM) library distributing literature against the bombing and arguing with so-called leftists who supported that "humanitarian" assault. It wasn't long before we decided that something of a more agitative matter needed to be done. We were joined in our opinion by Dave Dellinger, folksinger Jim Page (who happened to be on tour in Vermont), activists Orin Langelle and Anne Peterman, Jay Moore and many others. Given that all of Vermont's Congressional delegation supported the killing, we decided to stage protests at each of their offices and stage a sit-in at the last one on our tour. That office happened to be the office of Bernie Sanders. After making it clear to the folks working in Bernie's office that we fully intended to stay until they threw us out, Will fumbled with his wife's cell phone (something new to us older folks back then) and called the local media. They showed up soon afterwards and recorded our thoughts and the arrests that followed the office's closing. There were those on the Left who didn't understand why we chose Bernie's office, but the reasons became even clearer when Bernie told Will and fellow radical Jay Moore that they should just leave the room if they didn't agree with what Bernie was saying during a town meeting on the war. Our job wasn't to support Bernie no matter what; it was to point out the imperialist nature of the war and the hypocrisy of the humanitarian warmongers. Our propaganda of the deed.

     I only met Will around ten years ago when I moved to Vermont. I had heard of him before, however. His name came up in conversations on the West Coast whenever there were student protests at the University of Vermont. Usually it was a former student of Will's who knew of him. Will's students are like the followers of Jerry Garcia. You can find them in every part of the planet and in almost every profession, although I doubt that you will find too many in the war industry or the military (Will would probably feel that he failed those folks if he knew). It wasn't just the subject matter of Will's courses that inspired his students; it was his presentation, the non-judgmental seminars that discussed those ideas, and it was Will himself. He didn't demand respect, he commanded it. What I mean by that is that Will didn't want respect just because he was the teacher, he hoped to gain your respect because he helped you teach yourself. He was the remaining radical philosopher in a philosophy department that had been purged in 1970 after Michael Parenti, Will, and a few others began to do more than just teach philosophical ideas. They put those ideas to use, challenging the war in Vietnam, the racism of the US, and the very nature of the university. Although Will wasn't purged, he rarely got a raise or a sabbatical until a friendlier chair took over the department in the late 1990s.

     A few years ago, the faculty at UVM began a successful drive to unionize. Will was an essential part of that campaign, just as he had been in every union campaign at the university since his hiring. Only four or five years before, he and I were celebrating the victory in a staff union drive at UVM that heralded in the second union in the university's history. Will's presence, organizing ability and fervor, and his encyclopedic historical knowledge were instrumental in the success of this campaign -- a campaign that provided a voice to the most exploited segment of UVMs workforce.

     Will is going to be sorely missed in Vermont. However, when I go about my daily life, working, writing, speaking, organizing, enjoying a beer or something sweeter, I'm going to do so with Will's spirit in my soul. I'll have a smile on my face, a chuckle in my walk, and a revolutionary's love in my heart.

Will Miller, live like him!!!

Ashley Smith
Burlington, Vermont
March 31, 2005

Friends and Comrades,

     Will Miller died today. The cancer that he had struggled with over the last year finally took him from us. Everyone who had a chance to take his classes, work with him, and struggle alongside him knows that we have lost one of the heroes of our movement. Will combined tremendous almost encyclopedic memory of history with a tireless commitment to struggling for a better world. As our areas most beloved Marxist, he embodied the old Moor's famous dictum, "philosophers have interpreted the world in various ways, the point is to change it." Will's passing makes this bright, warm Spring day a mournful one. Will's death is a tremendous loss for all his friends, family and his comrades in the struggle for a better society.

     We should take time today to remember him. I will never forget his talks about US imperialism, how he would begin with its genocide against Native Americans and trace its development all the way through its many crimes committed over the last one hundred years. He would recount the history with scientific accuracy, adjusting his glasses, repeating his favorite phrases like "I take it that," but throughout he never gave into despair as he would always point to the resistance and the fight for liberation that was the antidote and hope amidst the horror.

     My favorite story that he just told in an interview was of a demonstration against the Vietnam War in DC. It was the famous march to shut down DC when tens of thousands of activists engaged in civil disobedience throughout the city. Will joined hundreds of Vermonters to blockade one of the bridges from Alexandria into DC. The army ordered a group of mainly black paratroopers that had just returned from Vietnam to affix bayonets to their weapons and attack the activists. The black paratroopers refused the order and joined the demonstration. In that moment, Will said he got a glimpse of what a socialist revolution would look like in the US.

     Will has died, but like his hero John Brown his soul goes marching on, it goes marching on in each one us who will continue the struggle for socialism. He has passed the red banner onto us and we take it up today in his honor. In the words of Latin American activists who remember their fallen comrades, by declaring them still here with us, still fighting alongside us-- "Will Miller, Presente!"

--Ashley Smith

Garrison Nelson
UVM Political Science Dept.
March 31, 2005

     Will and I worked together in 1971-72 during the infamous academic freedom fight over Professor Michael Parenti's reappointment contract. I was in charge of the Legal Defense Fund that covered Michael's legal fees and Will headed up the Thomas Jefferson Chair Fund which was intended to fund Michael's living expenses while the case was fought in court. The CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION considered the Parenti case to be the most winnable of the academic freedom cases fought that year. Michael and the Trustees settled out of court so the case never came to trial.

     Unfortunately, the lack of a positive trial verdict made it easier to dismiss a number of faculty members who worked with Will and me on Michael's behalf. Harvey Salgo of Economics, Eric Godfrey of Sociology and the "Philosophy Four" -- Bob Rice, Gerry Anderson, Alan Paskow and Jim Corcoran were all obliged to leave UVM. Will and I survived.

     Will and I remained friends over the next thirty years even if we no longer marched together. I never ceased to be amazed by his enormous energy and the depth of his commitment to social justice. Will was the University's greatest warrior for economic justice for the faculty and the staff. But it was not just the University that held Will's attention, it was the City of Burlington, the State of Vermont, the United States and yes, even the world itself.

     Will's boundless optimism and selfless dedication to change were beyond measure.

     Like many of you, I wish that I had spent more time with Will during this past year. But my memories of Will are everlasting.

     His truth is still marching on!

Garrison Nelson

Karin Eade
Grand Isle, Vermont
March 31, 2005

Dearest Will,

     I've wanted to write about how instrumental you are to the struggle and the revolution, but to me you have meant something different, provided something more personal and words from me about the revolution seem flat. I know we have spent hours semantically debating issues sometimes with heat, sometimes with humor, you were always willing to pick up where we left off or leave it to germinate for the future. That time together was certainly a gift, thank you.

     But I want you to know the ways in which you have changed me, by teaching me to use a chain saw, build a work bench, wire a socket, fix my plumbing, and have the confidence to see my own ability to learn what I need to in order to do what I want. These little acts might not change the world, but you are more than that, to me you are a lover of Ann, a shepherd, a woodsman, a craftsman, a jokester, an electrician, a homemaker, and a generous man beyond bounds. This is the Will that has touched my heart and given me a friendship I always hold dear.

with love always,

Jane Hendley
Burlington, Vermont
March 31, 2005


     I delayed writing because I get very emotional thinking about the possibility of losing my gentle friend and fellow passenger on trips to protests and fellow arrestee. However, I understand you have taken a turn for the worse, unfortunately not surprising in the unpredictability of cancer. I hope that your time has not come! Or, if it has, that it be a gentle leaving, as you are gentle, and free from pain. I really like about you that you never talk down to people, but treat everyone as an equal, no matter what their knowledge, with respect for their opinions. You are one of the few people I never feel self-conscious around. It is such a pleasure to listen to you speak. You impart your tremendous knowledge, whether it be of revolutions or injustices, patiently and carefully and in ways easy to understand.

Jane Hendley

Ed Weiss
Winooski, VT
March 31, 2005

Dear Will and Ann,

     It happens only few times in one's life if they are lucky enough to meet someone so special that our lives are influenced and changed in a positive way forever and that is what happened with Will and me----we met several years ago probably after Will gave a great talk either at an antiwar rally or on a panel discussion or maybe seeing Will on cable tv with the Green Mountain Veterans For Peace...and most definitely the weeks leading up to the shock and awe invasion and the hysteria to go to war and Will guiding a group of us that were organizing to hand out leaflets directly to the Guard at their front gate in Colchester and there were the Green Mountain Veterans For Peace and table and banner and hundreds of motorists passing by honking in solidarity and that action went so cool even the press had nice things to say about it and we learned with Will's experience expertise and encyclopedic knowledge of the military and the fabulous fluent way Will communicates with his mass audience out there who are listening and for me and many of us Will's most important lesson for sure after receiving all the knowledge is to be strong and go on struggling for peace and Will would give us the shot of courage that is so necessary to stand up and face our adversaries (the neo-con war mongers---the neo-liberals trashing of Gaia that Will always exposed) and not to waver or give in just say no riseup and overthrow---Will you are a beautiful gentle spirit a fearless warrior for peace ----feel high and mighty Will (that is who you are) gain strength and vitality friend---

Peace and Love,

Ann Ferguson
Leverett MA
March 30, 2005

     I am so sorry to hear that Will is failing. He is such a wonderful person I feel honored to have known him, although I didnt really know him very well, just a little through the Radical Philosophy Association and his reputation. We share a love of Cuba and her revolution and people, of social justice, and caring community, and a hatred of capitalism and imperialism. His spirit will go on through the rest of us when he is no longer here. Like Joe Hill, the labor organizer killed on a trumped up charge, we can say of Will "And standing there as big as life and smiling with his eyes, Joe said what they forgot to kill, went on to organize. . when working folks are out on strike, Joe Hill (Will Miller)'s by their side. .

Hilary Martin
Burlington, VT
March 30, 2005

Will and Ann,

     What a fitting outpouring of love and support for such a fierce warrior for justice! Let me add my own humble words of admiration and appreciation for you, Will. Your years of educating, both on the streets and in the classroom, has touched so many of us. The strength that we draw from you is a revolution in and of itself!

     Thank you for the opportunity to tell you this. You are both in my thoughts.

Much love and solidarity,
Hilary Martin

Jacob Bard-Rosenberg
London/Cambridge UK
March 30, 2005

     I remember coming and meeting Ann and Will in Vermont about seven years ago. It was a wonderful experience to meet such wonderful and committed people. I often think about Will when I am arguing about politics - I remember his insights as always being clear and cutting. Ann and Will, You'll always be comrades.

Julia Bard and David Rosenberg
London England
March 30, 2005

Message from Julia Bard

     Will has been such a significant influence on our sons, Jacob and Reuben, even though we live far away. When we visited Ann and Will's amazing home in Vermont, when the boys were only 12, they were treated like adults, and immediately engaged in political discussion, introduced to all the animals (and thumbnail sketches of the activists they were named after), as well as to Will's incredible collection of T-shirts, bumper stickers and other campaigning material. And so it has continued.

     Now they are at university and Will's example of an adult who has never compromised on his socialist principles, who has never stopped campaigning and working to make the world a better place, however great the challenge, has been a reference point for them. The received wisdom is that radicals mellow; that they become less radical as they grow older. Will and Ann have shown Jacob and Reuben (and all the rest of us) that this is rubbish – that we don't have to succumb to the pressure to compromise on peace, justice, and human rights; that we don't have to narrow our horizons or focus on our own interests at the expense of other people; that the fight can, must and does go on.

     Will, we're thinking of you and Ann, and so are Jacob and Reuben, for whom you are such an important friend and cousin. We're all so lucky to have you in our lives.

With all my love

Message from David Rosenberg

     Nearly seven years ago we had a very special few days with Will and Ann. The four of us myself, Julia and our twin sons Jacob and Reuben were on holiday from England we had been in Canada where I was investigating my father's roots for the first time. We crossed at Niagara, went thorough some decidedly right-wing territory in New York state and a few days later arrived in the socialist republic of Ann and Will's residence.

     Julia and Ann are related but hadn't seen each other for many years. We had never met Will. Very soon though it felt as if we had known him always. Like myself his hair was in a ponytail, and on his head a cap with the word "Unity". Ann and Will introduced us to their animals. I thought we were the only family in the world whose pets had surnames, but here we met a cat called Alexander Berkman and sheep called Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela. Jacob has always been at one with animals but I don't think he had spent time with socialist animals.

     Jacob and Reuben fell in love with the house and with Ann and Will. On the plane over to Canada, Reuben had been reading Castaneda's biography of Che Guevara. In Will he found a fellow reader who could discuss it with him in fantastic detail. We slept upstairs during those few days and each time we went up there we passed the badges, the books, the magazines and the posters – it was like walking through a museum of radical struggles – but it wasn't a museum because for Ann and Will the struggle continues. Outside the house, was a car. But it wasn't the car as such that grabbed my attention; it was the bumper sticker: "I'd rather be smashing US imperialism!" Wouldn't we all? Well the four of us are doing our best on that from this side of the water.

     Our short stay was an inspiration to all of us, and today, writing about it, we are thinking of you, Will and Ann.


Amey Radcliffe
Westford, VT
March 30, 2005

Dear Will,

     My heart goes out to you and Ann with the latest turns in your health. I have not known you long or well, but I have been touched by you as so many have. We are neighbors, but in our hilly corner of Westford, that doesn't mean we run into each other often. I believe we first met when our road washed out in 1998 and we were all out inspecting the damage. After that I noticed that your name seemed to come up often, when I mentioned I lived in Westford. Either a former student or someone who knew of you... "isn't that where that lefty UVM professor lives?"

     Oddly enough, where I really began to get to know you was through the videos I was given of your RETN Roundtable interviews. The knowledge you hold on Iraq, terrorism, media issues, history and so much more, astounds me. And what equally astounds me is the calm, gentle and patient way you deliver the information. You are as much sage as radical, and the combination is powerful and engaging. I have learned a lot from those videos and I have shared them with my family members. My 80 year-old Mom is a big fan of yours!

     More recently, we've had more occasions for live contact with you and Ann. Ann and I had the pleasure of working together, you shared your electrical expertise at our house, and we partook in a hay moving workday and visit at your house. Again I have been struck by your kind heart and gentle way. I appreciated the time you, Manny and I spent sitting in the crow's nest of your house looking at Mt. Mansfield, talking about some of your experiences with cancer. There was something so peaceful and "in the moment" about it, that it stays with me. Thank you for your warmth, spirit and passion.

With inspiration for your continued journey,
Amey Radcliffe

Anne Petermann
Hinesburg, VT
March 29, 2005

     It's been hard to figure out how to write a personal tribute to Will. And so it has taken me entirely too long to finally sit down to do it.

     The task is a daunting one. We have known Will and Ann for many years, getting to know them through the Green Mountain Fund initially, then becoming close friends in the years that followed.

     And I write this testimonial about both Will and Ann because they go together so easily and completely, it is hard to imagine one without immediately bringing to mind the other.

     The gatherings with Will and Ann are always immensely enjoyable, in part because Orin (my partner) and I share so much in common with them. Orin and I are seventeen years apart in age, as are Will and Ann. Beyond that, Will is ten years older than Orin and likewise with Ann and me. This means that when we share each others' company, we have ages spanning four decades. That has always been very special for me—so many different generational experiences all coming together form a very rich relationship. It also means that Orin, ever political, has a friend and comrade with whom to share his particular perspective—a friend who experiences the world with a similar level of intensity. And Will, like Orin, is a veteran of the hard fought struggle to end the Vietnam War—through the sharing of "war stories," they learned that they had been at some of the same actions.

     Will and Ann shared their wedding with us and they spoke at ours—Will reading the infamous quote from Che Guevara about revolutionaries being guided by a great feeling of love. And it seems to me that it is clearly love that has guided the revolutionary that is Will. A love for the truth, a love for humanity, a love for the earth and all of its inhabitants. It has been a great gift to be invited to share in Will and Ann's life. To sit, late into the night, in a fervent discussion of current events and personal stories, enjoying Ann's mother's delectable cookies.

     We have been privileged to be a part of such a great and beautiful friendship. Whatever happens, Will, you will always be present in our lives, our thoughts, our memories and I wish you only the best in this most personal journey. And Ann this is to let you know that I am here for whatever you need.

Anne Petermann

Martha Powers Swanson
Ovando, Montana
March 29, 2005

Dear Willard:

     I want to join the others in thanking you for sharing with us you vision of a better world.

     It was my great good fortune to have been your student during the first semesters of teaching at UVM. I remember how much we enjoyed your classes: your enthusiasm for the material was contagious and your sympathetic nature inspired us to work far harder for you than we did for our other professors.

     There were many lessons which I took from my years as your student. Among them were these: while the issues are tough and serious, we can have fun as we do battle. Whether we were protesting the war, working at ZPG or calling John Beckley on the carpet, you were always pointing out the ironies and making us laugh with your gentle humor. (Does anyone else remember the little green convertible Fiat with a lemon painted on the side??)

     Another lesson I learned from you was this: there need not be a disconnect between your beliefs and your work. One can put together a life which is seamless in regard to work, politics and home . You have done so and many emulate you in this regard.

     I am sending you my very best wishes in the hopes that you can rally and continue to inspire the pople who have the good fortune of meeting you!


Alan Rosenfeld
Durango, Colorado
March 28, 2005

Dear Will and Ann,

     I happened upon this web site while visiting my dad in Florida who is also battling cancer at the moment. Of course I am very saddened by the news that you are engaged in this new struggle but not at all suprised to learn that you are appoaching it with the same spirit and attitude with which you faced other struggles.

     I first met Will many years ago - I believe at a Haymarket funding cycle asking for money to support the work I was just then starting to do involving protecting children from sexual abuse. I don't believe I got any money but did get an invitation out to your farm and remain grateful for the opportunity to get to know you both a little bit.

     As everyone else has already said, you both lived your politics in every part of your lives and showed by example how the politics of anti imperialism was tied to the politics of non violence which was tied to the politics of enviornmentalism which in the end was reflected by how we all treat each other as people.

     Keep fighting for life and leading by example and think about the ripple in the pond of life and of how many people you have touched who have touched others who will continue to touch others until it becomes a tsunami for justice.
with my deepest respect and best wishes.

Alan Rosenfeld
Durango, Colorado

Kirby Dunn
Burlington, VT
March 27, 2005

Hello Will & Ann,

     I have been thinking of you since I read the piece in 7 Days and am glad to reconnect after many years. I want to thank you for lots of things, but first, this site is very inspiring! Well, I shouldn't be surprised as you are always a leader in critical thought and social change and here you are with continued inspiration for others. While I now deal with issues of empowering elders and persons with disabilities, I the "professional" am again learning new ways of helping others, thanks to you.

     Thank you also for the ability to read the comments from others, the Howard Zinn piece (I really needed that!) and your comments on your UVM site about the war. 60,000 soldiers died in Vietnam, & 3 million Vietnamese? I probably knew that at one point but it never hit home like it does today. This site inspires me to do more against the war.

     Thank you also for your inspiration and education in my younger days. While I have often wondered at the usefulness of a forma, expensive college education for immature 18 year-olds like myself in 1978, I remember classes like yours and the extra-curricular activities which lead me to work and volunteer with non-profits. While it is all a bit fuzzy, I am sure you were the advisor for the anti-nuke group we established, The Rising Sun Coalition. I am sure you were there with me at protests at Vermont Yankee and the Trident Submarine in CT. (While I thought we won the battle of nuclear power years ago, it looks like that is coming round again, surprise!)

     Thank you Will for all you have done and all you continue to do!


John Stoddard
Portland, Oregon
March 18, 2005

     Will's classes changed my way of seeing the world and set me on a carrer path of social and environmental justice. I greatly admire his knowledge and commitment. Thank you will for speaking and living truth.

John Stoddard

Quita St. John
Seattle, WA
March 18, 2005


     I am so sorry to hear that you're sick. I wish you peace, healing, and recovery. I am, as we Quakers say, holding you in the Light.

     I have so many memories of you. I am so thankful that you provided a voice, a forum, and leadership for others and for others to find and express their voices. Thank goodness you were unyielding in your convictions and that you were always there to take up the fight and bring others along.

     I cannot tell you how important it is to have models and mentors as a student with a political philosophy and social activism that runs counter to the prevailing culture. I am now in law school and my struggle to acquire a JD for the "right" reasons has been greatly aided by professors like you.

     In the class room you were just as Jay and Michael have said, unruffleable. There were challenges to your teaching of Marxism, but you were always kind and engaging and never belittling of those who tried to fight rather than discuss or argue.

     I met two of my best friends from college in your class, David Grover and John Stoddard. Both are still living out progressive ideals in their work and lives. Indeed, in the depths of a Burlington winter while Dave and I were still in school we hunkered down at a coffee shop to write out a manifesto entitled, "Manifesting Our Ideals." It was written to ensure we would never lose sight of what was important after leaving an acadmic environment with inspiration from people like you, Will.

     Further, you also taught me a lot in a traditional academic sense - though not a traditional academic style. My bookshelf is still lined with books from your classes.

     What impressed me most, however, was your ability to engage your principles. Often academia sits as it's own seperate sphere - apart from how we live our lives. You always brought it home. When we began to bomb Iraq again in 1998, I was so proud to be pictured in the Free Press, next to you, marching downtown. You do indeed walk your talk and have inspired so many of us to remain true to our visions of the world and to inspire others to do so.

     Indeed, Will, you've created a legacy of progressive thinkers and doers who engage the world with integrity and love.

Best wishes, thoughts, and hopes,
Quita St. John
UVM class of '99

Justin Francese
Eugene, OR
March 18, 2005

Dear Will,

     You have touched me deeply and you are in my heart always. You have shown me that I can live the change that I want to see. As I continue to fight for freedom and social justice, I work in your name.

     I began my life as an agitator at UVM and at each stage in my work, at each campaign, you were there--as we campaigned against the university's investments in landmine profiteers, as we fought against its support of the sweatshop industries, and as we protested the NATO bombings in Yugoslavia. After my graduation, we stood together against the war and against the FTAA in 2001. At every step, your guidance empowered me to keep my head high and my voice loud. Thank you for everything.

     Be well, stay strong and I'll see you in VT this summer.

much love,
Justin Francese

Charles W. Johnson
East Montpelier, VT
March 16, 2005


     I don't know you well--have only met on a couple of occasions when we marched together as Veterans for Peace against this terrible war--but I have an enduring image of you as welcoming, big-hearted, and supremely dedicated to the cause of peace. You are an inspiration just by your presence and your spirit, which come through so clearly in simple and ordinary ways.

     You are so brave in the way you face the truth, and embrace it, all along life's journey.

     Thank you for what you are, what you stand for, and what you have done to make the world a better and more compassionate place.

Thomas Hazelton
Cambridge MA
March 16, 2005

Dear Ann,

     We've never met, but I was a student of Will's at UVM in the late '80s and early '90s. I'm so sorry to hear of his recent illness, and I wanted to let him know that my thoughts are with him. He was one of the best teachers I've ever had. I learned so much. But more than that, I was always very impressed with him as a person. I've never met anyone so dedicated to advancing the cause of social justice -- and seemingly everything else that is right and good in this world. What a role model he is! His drive, his insight, his intelligence, his integrity... As you know, he gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "one of a kind". He'll never know what a truly profound effect he had on me, but he really did change me for life. And I can't thank him enough for that. Could you let him know this? Thank you and take care.


Ben Bellizzi
Burlington, Vermont
March 15, 2005

     Like countless other former students, my college experience, and life, was changed by my relationship with Will. I do not need to go into detail about the many ways in which he has inspired, amazed, and affected the lives of others: if you know him, you don't need to be told, and if you don't, you could never fully understand. I place my short time with Will among my most treasured and valuable experiences at UVM, and am overwhelmingly thankful to have had the opportunity to be exposed to such an individual. Thank you Will, your personal warmth and teachings continue to resonate with those you have touched, and our hearts and thoughts are with you during all of your future adventures.

Glen Macy
Essex Junction, Vermont
March 14, 2005

To my good and trusted friend, may peace be with you.

Dear Will,

     It doesn't seem that long ago that I stumbled upon your Introduction to Philosophy class. At the time, I was a most unlikely disciple. For the previous three years, a model ROTC cadet, I had found the secret to promotions and a scholarship was unquestioning loyalty to tradition and authority. Yet, the bumper sticker on your Land Rover; "Question Authority," caught my imagination almost at once. Your lectures mesmerized me. I was astounded how you could speak to any topic and at your impeccable reasoning and logic. Until then, this rather un-inquisitive, straight-thinking, all-American boy had never even considered there was any other world view than what country-life's traditions, myths and indoctrinations had presented. But, your teaching was so passionate as well as compassionate and your lessons so compelling, that I took away from your class an insatiable desire to learn more and to learn the unorthodox. I could listen to you for hours. I felt lucky to have one last semester and was pleased to take another of your classes in the spring of 1978. Oh what fantastic good fortune. I could have so easily missed these opportunities of a lifetime.

     Will, it was you who first exposed me to Helen and Scott Nearing, Peter Singer, and Michael Parenti. You introduced me to homesteading, green manure, vegetarianism, composting toilets, sustainable forestry, and passive solar energy to mention but a few. You made the possibilities of designing and building one's own home real and inviting. After graduation, you were my mentor when I went looking for land for a homestead. It was your encouragement that gave me the confidence to buy the 100 acres that again, I stumbled upon and that proved to be one of the best decisions of my life. It has brought me enjoyment and satisfaction beyond measure.

     Your message and your example made me a believer but I could never muster the courage of conviction to truly convert. Too much a conflict avoider, too inclined to sit on the fence, and as the years went by, too comfortable in a lifestyle that accompanies hard work, but only without standing up to authority—not nearly as courageous as the medals on my uniform would want you to believe. You have never held that against me. I have always felt welcomed, loved and cared about, whenever we have seen each other. Measured against your stature as a humanitarian and crusader most all of us will be found wanting. But, my own life has been so much fuller, my sense of right and wrong, of justice and injustice far more keen, my insight into the beauties and ills of the world and even my feeble attempts to make a difference, more on target as a result of your example and our friendship. Our brief visits and conversations through the years, the lessons you have shared, and the love of learning you imparted have made and will continue to make a profound and lasting difference in my life for which I am grateful. I have tried to pass these gifts on to my own daughter, and am so grateful that she got to attend your Introduction to Philosophy last year—Thank you for completing that circle.

     And for your friendship, your wisdom, your kindness, patience and understanding, please accept my love, respect and admiration.

To the revolution,

Craig Murray
Burlington, Vermont
March 13, 2005

     Hey Will, sure glad I just browsed the Seven Days issue I had not read. I hadn't a clue you had cancer.

     I've spent an hour at the write-in site -- a wonderful thing enabling me to learn more about your life and friends, plus I then visited your website where I enjoyed your updates and had fun with the Mark Fiore cartoons and will send them on to friends. What a great quote from Zinn, which I saved.

     Your life, as Bob Rice points out, has been all about love and compassion and the multiplier effect of enabling others to succeed and do humane things.

     From all the times I've witnessed or read about your draft counselling & advocacy, I imagine you have helped more than a thousand young people here from getting caught up in the military intervention machine that kills foreigners in the name of our or the foreigners' freedom. What a heroic achievement trying to put a monkey wrench in that machine and sparing the lives of many young and vulnerable people here!

     I have fond memories of meeting you in the 1970's when I was exec director of ACLU-Vt and privately active in the anti-war movement. I remember you and Lynn inviting my wife (then) Lisa and me to dinner for my first all vegetarian meal. It wasn't a stir fry, but a delicious array of vegetarian dishes! I think the four of us later went to the Harrisburg demonstrations in support of the Berrigans and against the war and nuke build-up, slept on church floors, and marched with the Bread & Puppet.

     We intersected other times to speak out against the Central American interventions and death squads.

     For years I've been involved in start-up projects for appropriate technology or alternative energy to reduce pollution, avoided the frontlines of resistance here, while making contributions to an array of NGOs doing good works -- especially in the poorest countries.

     I greatly admire your activism and humanity! You have inspired so many of us.

     Meanwhile, good luck with the treatments, which seem to be a broad based counter-offense!

Yours affectionately,
Craig Murray

Kathy and Deep Ford
Rome, Italy
March 5, 2005

Dear Will and Anne,

     First off, greetings of strength and hope for your current personal struggle.

     So many of the messages on this website are about your contribution to the struggle for greater justice in the world. The laurels are well deserved.

     I was inspired to add my comments today as I just returned from a protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Rome. Yesterday an Italian secret service officer was killed protecting Guiliana Sgrena, a journalist for the Communist Party of Rome's, Il Manifesto. She had been held hostage in Baghdad for a month and her release was just negotiated. She was near the airport on her way home when the assault by U.S. military forces occurred. It seems as though the forces of U.S. imperialism are at work again.

     Will, you have stood for the people/the truth more consistently than most people that I know. For this I am thankful. You are a constant reminder that our children are important and the contribution that our career can make is important too but we still need to find the time and the gumption to engage in the struggle head on.

     La lucha continua!

Kathy and Deep Ford
Rome, Italy

Dave Zuckerman
Burlington, Vermont
March 5, 2005


     I had you as a Professor at UVM as well as a Professor in life. Your leadership and courage to fight for what is right has influenced me on many levels. Trying to create change through the electoral process has been an uphill stuggle that I face everyday. But your persistence and dogedness help inspire me to keep up the fights within the "establishment". None of the struggles has been been easy nor will they be in the future.

     I hope that you are also taking on this struggle with the same determination and vigor of the many struggles of the past. You are a real leader that I can only hope to emulate in some small way. Thank you for your honesty and relentlessness!

Dave Zuckerman

Patrick Cassidy
Burlington, Vermont
March 4, 2005


     I can't thank you enough for what you have done for me as a teacher. I returned to UVM after a hiatus mostly in response to my father's fears that if there were a draft then I would be eligible if I were not in college. I found myself treading water, studying things I already knew. Through your classes and our work with SPARC I opened my mind to a whole new perspective. This is not to say that I realized that "Will Miller speaks the truth, and everyone else lies". Instead I learned that no one speaks the truth, and indeed far too few people even speak at all. I learned to question everything, and even (at your urging) to question you. Will I want to thank you for teaching so many people how to live their lives more fully, in the hopes that we could somehow mirror the fullness of the life which you have lead. I think of you often, especially as I encounter many difficult decisions in my life, and I wish you health and happiness, as I know you will always fight for both.

Peace, love, respect, camraderie, and thanks,
Pat Cassidy

Julia Bailey
Arlington, MA
March 3, 2005

Dear Will,

     That those we're parted from live on unchanged in our memories can be deceptive, but from the pictures on your home page, I'd say that you really are the same Will I once knew, only more so.

     We were friends long ago, becoming vegetarians together, getting maced and jailed in Washington protesting the Vietnam War, and trying to wake up our students and shake up our legislators--work you've kept at with remarkable tenacity.

     But since political engagement has been your life's theme, there for everyone to see if not always to appreciate, what I want to recall here is another side of you, for which a single anecdote will suffice. I was visiting the new house you were building in Weston, enjoying a beer with you up in the unfinished crow's nest, which was wide open to the air. Your cat came to socialize and jumped energetically onto what he doubtless expected would be the windowsill. It wasn't there. He spilled out onto the precipitous roof below, and--claws useless on the metal--slowly, agonizingly slid toward oblivion. In a flash you jumped up, strapped on your construction harness, tethered yourself, vaulted out the window, played out the line, scooped up the cat from roof's edge, and mountaineered your pet and yourself back to safety!

     O bighearted Will, man of action--may your feisty spirit triumph!


Sophie Morse
Poulsbo, Washington
March 1, 2005

     Through the snaky pathways of independant radio and the internet I happen to stumble upon this website and your news from here in Washington.

     I remember perhaps the only time I ever visited your home in VT, back in 1985 sometime. A fellow classmate offered their testimonial as we stepped into your cozy home: "these people are the real thing: they don't keep any white sugar in their house." A small, trivial detail in the life of a busy couple, but what it said was, not only are these folks dedicated in tackling worldly issues, but they bring it home and walk their talk.

     I'm not sure I ever really had a conversation with you, and you would have little reason to remember me, but to this day I think about that day every time white sugar finds its way into my house.

     Will, you have my permanent admiration for who you are, what you were to me back during our anti-apartheid campus triumphs and activism, and what you believe and are unafraid to say. If only our world had more people like you, and I hope you find a path to healing.

peace and deep admiration,
Sophie Morse

Brian Walsh
S. Burlington, Vermont
March 1, 2005


     I've heard and read many great things about you, but, unfortunately, only met and heard you speak once. In January, 2003, I attended a direct action/civil disobedience workshop at UVM that you helped facilitate. I had the great fortune of being in the group that you led.

     I will never forget your analogy for the United States' use of nuclear weapons. You explained that a bank robber is charged with "armed robbery" if he held a gun while committing his crime, even if the gun was never fired. Thus, you went on, although the United States detonated "only" two nuclear bombs with the intent of killing civiians, they actually "used" nuclear weapons several more times - against the Soviet Union, China and North Vietnam - threatening to explode them if those countries refused to do US bidding.

     I use your analogy every year now in the history classes I teach at Essex High School.

     Thank you; you are an inspiration.

     Keep fighting.

Brian Walsh
S. Burlington, VT

Alfred "Tuna" Snider
March 1, 2005

     Will has been my model and colleague for over 20 years. We didn't see each other that often (usually when the empire was cranking up a new atrocity) but we always knew of each other's work. As a teacher of philosophy Will seemed in harmony with my role as a teacher of debate and the debate coach here at UVM -- teach, inspire, lead, criticize and engage students so that they felt like they both wanted to and could think for themselves and then use the power of their voice to make a difference.

     Will was at times a bit too doctrinaire for me, but he always seemed to be on the right side of the issues and was always activist and speaking out. My students were always talking about how Will gave them new perspectives that other faculty would not, and how he inspired them to take it out of the classroom and make it real.

     My favorite Will Miller moment was April 22, 1999 when he and my current debate coach Justin Morgan Parmett (then a UVM debater) squared off in a public debate against arch-conservative UVM professor Robert Kaufman and the president of College Republicans Robert Pontbriand (also a UVM debater) on the topic that the USA should discontinue its role as the world's police force. Marsh 325 (biggest room on campus) was overflowing with over 400 peeple and they were stacked up outside to listen. It was a moving debate. There is a grainy (1999 was a bit early) streaming video of the debate at listed under public debates. You can watch it for yourself.

     I am moved by Will's current plight, and I am determined in response to do what I should have been doing anyway, speaking out more against this insane war in Iraq and standing against USA imperialism everywhere.

     The Lawrence Debate Union is planning a series of public debates. I will propose to the membership and campaign for the idea that one major debate each year focusing on these issues will be held in honor of Will Miller. Let the voices of those who knew him and those who did not carry forward the task of speaking out, even when it is unpopular, for what they believe is right.

     Silence is complicity. Will was never complicit.

     Most people sell out at some point. I don't think Frank Zappa ever did, and I don't think Will Miller ever did. The really precious stuff isn't for sale.

     Babylon must and will fall.

Alfred "Tuna" Snider

Alexis Lathem
New Haven, Vermont
February 26, 2005

Dear Will and Anne,

     Last time I saw you was on a beautiful summer night at Anne and Orin's. We sat around a fire by the lake -- you must have just found out you might be very ill. I noticed that you, Anne, seemed worried about something and were unusually quiet, but Will, you were as talkative and generous as always, sharing your wealth of knowledge and critical insights on a whole variety of topics. I asked you for advice about I course I was preparing to teach, and you gave it, naturally.

     I had a difficult semester with that course, after all. I had tried to connect the course content (which was writing) to social justice issues. How exhausting it is to try to wake the living dead! I thought often of you. If only I could be a Will Miller! But then you are one of those rare teachers whom we are lucky to come across once in a lifetime. How do I know? I have never sat in on one of your classes, but I have been in your presence. To be around you is to absorb learning like a dry sponge. I attended many teach-ins and rallies and meetings where you spoke; if I knew that you were going to speak, then I could be sure the event would be worthwhile. Will, you teach us that freedom – and I use the word reluctantly as it is so much abused lately – requires hard work. Truth has been buried – deep – and you did so much of the spadework needed to unearth it. Then, with the meticulous patience of the archeologist, you pieced the shards together into an intelligible pattern.

     This is a quote I got from Julia Alvarez: "Feed the sea! Feed the sea! The little rivers dry up but the sea continues." That is what you have been doing – with your enormous heart and your enormous intellect– and it is what it means to live on, and on, and on.

     Both of you are very much on my mind and I'm hoping from the bottom of my heart that you'll get well.

With love,

Jeff Salisbury
Jericho, VT
February 24, 2005

     When I moved to Burlington in 1972, I worked as an apartment manager for the infamous Clark Hinsdale. One of the first tenants I had the privilege of meeting was you, Will and you shared the building with Ms.McSweeney, an elderly Catholic leftist. Getting to know you gave me hope that not everyone was just out for themselves. Your integrity, intellectual curiosity and steadfast resistance to the perpetrators of the decline of western civilization serve as a shining example of what can and must be done to reverse the insidious undermining of true freedom. Your words kindle the flames of struggle against oppression. Your actions demonstrate a selfless energy for the good of humanity.

     Your logic class was one of the most stimulating and entertaining get togethers I ever had at UVM. Thank you for your years of pointing out to those of us who may lapse into complacency that everything is not OK!

Love to you and your family,

Sandra Costes
Westford Vermont
February 24, 2005

Greetings Will and Ann, from over the hill and down the road.

     I was at a discussion group on Monday evening at the Westford Library regarding the Referendum for Peace that will be voted on at Town Meeting. I talked about how important it is to understand "Conscientious Objection", before it is to late. During the first Gulf war my son Travis was 19 year old, and I was having nightmares about a possible reinstatement of the draft. We were so grateful to you Will for coming to our house and helping us understand what to do. My son wrote to the President, among other things, and established his CO file. I truly credit you with opening and awakening his political/critical thinking life. As for myself, having been one of your students,well, you were a breath of fresh air in a stale and fearful environment. Your passion is a gift to all of us who's lives you have touched. May peace be in your hearts, and may peace come to the world.Your inspiration and contributions still in fect us with hope and commitment.

Love and Respect, Sandra

Michael Yates
Miami Beach, Florida
February 24, 2005

Dear Will,

     I am saddened by your illness but glad you have lived your life the way you have. It is always remarkable to see a person who when treated badly fights back. You have been fighting all your life, at your university, against injustice, against death, giving a fine personal example for how radicals ought to live their lives.

Michael Yates

Danielle Horanieh
West Hartford, CT
February 23, 2005

     I had Will Miller as a teacher my freshman year for Philosophy 1 and after the first day of class I knew he was going to be the best teacher I will ever have at this school. I'm a senior now and he hasn't failed me yet. He gave every single student in the class the benefit of the doubt because he wanted each student to do the best they could. He is such a kind, warm hearted and extremely intelligent gentleman. I had only wished that I could have that determination and strong beliefs that he expressed each day. I was never very close with him, but he made such a lasting impression in my heart. He is my favorite professor at this university and he will be what I remember when I look back onto my college experience. With all my heart I wish you the best of luck and keep staying strong!!!!

Michael Parenti
Berkley, CA
February 22, 2005

A second entry from Michael Parenti

     Will has brought to the UVM community a dedication to political truth, social justice, and world peace that has had a vital impact upon generations of students and even some faculty (the latter usually cannot be taught anything). Besides being a rewarding teacher and engaging thinker, he has been an unfailing political activist, ever true to his principles.

     In 1973, I think it was, he managed to get the tenure he richly deserved largely because there had been such an uproar the year before over the failure to renew my contract. Will had a lot of popular support on campus. He himself told me that the reason the UVM authorities did not fire him--which they normally would have done because of his radical politics---was because they did not want to go through another storm. (That gives me the pleasure of thinking that I--or my case--had some small part in helping him get tenure.)

      He was the only radical in the philosophy department at UVM to survive the ax. In subsequent years he also became active in the faculty union and remained a thorn in the side of some hidebound administrators. The three talks I gave at UVM since my departure in 1972 all happened because of Will's efforts and the student groups he was working with. To my knowledge none of my other former colleagues did much to get me back as a guest lecturer.

     Though he was a popular teacher and published author, and though he prevailed in his battle for tenure, Will was made to pay for it. He was denied promotion and remained an assistant professor for 35 years with a salary frozen for most of that time at below that of a first-year instructor at UVM.

     Will was pushed out of all courses required by philosophy majors. He was passed over for sabbatical for 13 years and finally received a one-semester leave only after threatening court action. After an additional 19 years, he got his second and last sabbatical. And he was perpetually passed over by the philosophy department for reduced teaching load, a consideration regularly granted to his departmental colleagues on a rotating basis.

     In a word, the treatment accorded him by some administrators and his department chair has been vindictive, petty, and shameful. Given his abilities, I can only conclude that such mistreatment has been politically motivated. It makes me think that things have not improved all that much at UVM since I was denied renewal of contract in 1972.

     When Will retires, there will be left an enormous gap at UVM. Just look at the love and appreciation expressed by so many of his friends and admirers of whom I am one.

Michael Parenti

Emily Buckingham
Larchmont, NY
February 22, 2005

Dear Ann and Will,

     Thank you for your note acknowledging our recent donation. We have never met.

     My son, David Buckingham, is a junior at UVM. Our family often spends winter weekends near Sugarbush, and David sometimes joins us. David invited my husband, our youngest son, and me to go to campus with him for the Karl Marx play last month. It was an interesting and entertaining experience, and as the event was a tribute to Will, we wanted to make a contribution.

     I think David took a course with Will. In any event, he was planning to take Will's legendary Marxism class. I was aware that David was very fond of Will and was part of a larger group of students who were very distraught over Will's illness and wanted to do something to help. On receiving your note, I took time to look at Will's web site and learn something about the man who has so influenced my son. I now understand the love and devotion of so many of Will's students and I am very glad that David was fortunate enough to know you, Will. It may well have been his most important experience at UVM.

     I wish you success in launching the lecture series.

Emily Buckingham

Ross Grossman
Sebastpol, California
February 16, 2005

dear will---

     i haven't seen you for over thirty years, but i think of you almost every day. and i'll tell you why. when we were philosophy students together at the university of illinois in the middle sixties you got me a job working with you as an electrician. i knew nothing about electricity but you gave me some rudimentary lessons. and more. you gave me a tool box and a set of tools i would need as an electrician. i still have that tool box and those tools. the red handled linemans pliers/wire cutters. the channel locks. i still use these tools and every time i open up the box i think of you. when i couldn't teach my wife marjorie how to drive in order to get her drivers license you volunteered and with supreme patience saw her through. we had our philosophy club with jerry swanson, our mentor the venerable max fisch. it was then that i began to understand who you were. we were both army veterans but you had fought the army and won when they recalled you unjustly. the secretary of the army himself, elvis starr, signing your release papers. you had the sharpest mind of any one i knew, you could argue your points with total clarity and could see through bad arguments and respond with incisive counters. at the same time you were never mean or petty and enlightenment was constantly your goal in mind. your gentleness combined with tenacious truth seeking made you a formidable and magnetic person. compassion and wisdom went together in your every deed and thought. i was honored to be your friend and still am. at the end of Plato's dialogue Phaedo, Crito, a young friend of Socrates, says this about his teacher: "Socrates was of all those whom we knew in our time, the bravest and also the wisest and most upright man." i have often thought of you as an authentic carrier of the Socratic tradition and hope we can get together soon and continue the discussion.


Scott Campitelli
Georgia, Vermont
February 15, 2005

      In my years as a student at UVM there were only a handful of professors I remember really plowing the furrows in my brain during those 3-hour weekly seminars. Somehow Will's classes flew by and I actually did the reading between sessions. For the most part I can't remember the precise topics of those philosophy classes. In retrospect they seem more like intro to the real world 101, 201, 301, and so on. Between the reading, the discussion and Will's enthusiasm and openness, he sparked a fire of curiosity that made me a lifelong learner, especially on subjects of politics, economics, global affairs and social issues. I use that "lifelong learner" term in its truest sense here. And long after those college years I reconnected with Will to probe new perspectives on issues while in the IBEW and, most recently, working on an ongoing television interview show.

     Will has been a frequent guest on the show and he is not just one of my favorite interviewees, he is also a favorite among the crew each time. After the show Will departs leaving us all in the depths of discussion on many connected topics. His wealth of knowledge and willingness to share it has made me appreciate over and over the characteristics of a great teacher - one who doesn't need a classroom. His programs on RETN are some that we get the most response to and requests about. Sometimes Will and I will discuss what sort of response we're getting by phone or email from viewers, thinking it might be angry and critical. But the feedback we get is usually to thank us for talking with Will about the things no one talks about on TV. And doing it in an honest, well-researched way. What a treasure and a relief in the vast wasteland that entertains America!

     I won't go on any longer, except to say that you continue to be a treasure, Will, and I've only touched on the academic/intellectual side. I look forward to our next videotaping as much as to the next warm hug we can share.

Much love,

Mark Stoler
Burlington, Vermont
February 6, 2005

     I must begin by seconding Justin Joffe's disclaimer regarding memory. As an historian, I am well aware of the fact that history and memory are not the same. I am also aware of the fact that we humans have trouble accepting this, convinced as we are that our memories hold the correct version of the past and have not been distorted by time. But of course they have. So apologies in advance, Will, for any distortions that follow.

     I have known Will for almost 35 years now. I met him in the fall of 1970, when I arrived at UVM fresh out of the University of Wisconsin. Frankly, I felt at first that I had entered a time warp politically, given all that had been going on at Wisconsin and appeared not to be going on at UVM! But then I met Will, at a meeting of a pre-SPARC student group he was then advising (surprise!). I still remember that meeting, as well as the numerous gatherings that followed in Will's apartment on Hungerford Terrace, during which I met Michael Parenti and many like-minded younger colleagues in Will's department.

     Like Justin, I remember our ensuing futile efforts to establish the Thomas Jefferson chair with a portion of our salaries to keep Michael Parenti at UVM, after the Board of Trustees fired Michael for what board members openly admitted were political reasons. I also remember our efforts to reverse the purge of the Philosophy Department, and our early efforts to establish a faculty union. But what I remember most of all are both Will's courage in speaking out on these issues and trying to organize the faculty and students in opposition, and the utter rage I felt over the hypocrisy and actions of the Board of Trustees and the Administration in these matters.

     That rage never disappeared, and it may well have motivated me to agree to play a major role in the third, and this time successful effort to unionize the UVM faculty four years ago. But more important were Will's courage and endurance. I enjoy studying politics, not being a participant. And by the 1990s my rage over continuing injustices here was fast turning to cynicism. But if Will could continue the struggles year after year, despite defeat after defeat, who was I to refuse to play my part?

     When we finally won the union fight in 2001, I told the happy celebrants that we all owed a tremendous debt of gratitude to those who had done so much in the previous union drives, most notably Will. I say it again. You kept the torch burning, Will, and you taught us what perseverance and commitment were all about. We in United Academics owe you an enormous debt of gratitude. So do I personally.

Bruce Boyle
Plainfield, Vermont
February 1, 2005

     Will: I've just learned about your cancer treatment while reading your web page. My most immediate feeling is hope: optimism, a wish for your complete and speedy recovery: and for the best possible therapy and treatment during the interim. Come back soon. We need your tenacious example and courage and wisdom on behalf of justice and peace. With a strong optimistic hug.


Arnold Fertig (Rabbi)
Newton Centre, MA
January 31, 2005

Dear Will,

     What a thrill it was for me to reconnect with you when my wife, Gail, and I were traveling through Burlington on our way to Montréal for our anniversary this past October.

     In our few hours together we reminisced about my time as your student in the late '60's, early 70's, in the era when Playboy dubbed UVM the "hotbed of tranquility."

     As a philosophy major, you taught me how to think critically. You mentored me in a one-on-one readings and research project on the topic of Utopian societies. And, in so doing, you and set before me the lifelong challenge to create that ever more perfect society.

     I served as the student representative on the committee chaired by George Albee which reviewed the Philosophy department's "radicalism". From that vantage point I learned as much or more from you and your colleagues as I did in the classroom or Philosophy department lounge (aka sofa).

     You have always served as a role model, combining sharp intellect, strong moral conviction, and gentle spirit. You have blessed my life with your presence, and I join all your friends and admirers in wishing you strength and healing.

Arnie Fertig
UVM '72

Kurt Werntgen
Atlanta, GA (UVM class 2003)
January 31, 2005

     I only had one class with Will. I was an Engineering major and took a Philosophy class as an elective. That was the only class I ever had where we would spend sunny days out on the grass in front of the building instead of stuck inside of it. Because of this, and because of the energetic way that he led his classes, and the insight he brought to a subject that can be hard to grasp sometimes, the mention of Will's name or the sight of his face brings a ray of sunshine into my mind and my heart. I've always been a radical, and I always will be, so he didn't alter my overall outlook substantially, but at the time, being only in my late teens, it meant a lot to me to meet someone in a position of "authority" (hehe) who was able to balance activism with professional success, and that helped to me to realize that I didn't have to compromise my values to get where I wanted to be, and for that I am very thankful.

Good luck Will, I'll be thinking of you! ;-)

Carol Walker
Randolph, Vermont
January 29, 2005


     I'm another one of the faces you might vaguely recognize, names you wouldn't know, but I hope you would recognize as a kindred spirit. I thank you for having the will to speak truth to power and for being so gracious an example to those of us who might have been tempted to give up - if it weren't for folks like you. Thanks for all you've done. All best wishes - and lots of those "good vibes".

Carol Walker, WILPF

Justin Joffe
Burlington, Vermont
January 27, 2005


     Will and I came to UVM at the same time, in the fall of 1969, so I have lots of memories to draw on. I'll mention only a few.

     Rather than preface half my sentences with "if I remember correctly," "as I recall," or similar phrases, I'll start with a general disclaimer. As we tell our intro psych students, memory is not like a videotape of the past; it is far more like a story constructed to make sense of a set of incomplete, disordered, cryptic, and partly illegible notes. So omissions, additions, and incorrect sequences are the norm rather than the exception, and I'd be surprised if Will's recollections of the same events were not very different than mine.

     And let me note that in events that I was involved in with or through Will, almost invariably he was better informed, more passionately engaged, more erudite, and endlessly more articulate – Will speaks not in sentences like most of us; Will speaks in paragraphs.

  • Michael Parenti: A group of us established a "Thomas Jefferson Chair," to be funded by our pledging a percentage of our salaries, to keep Parenti at UVM while he fought the non-reappointment decision in the courts. With the question of how students could get credit for courses taught by a professor without an appointment at UVM unresolved, Parenti (probably wisely) went elsewhere.

  • Mosquitoes: Will once informed me, in a tone of authority, while we ate a cheese fondue at his apartment on Pearl Street, that I would be less attractive to mosquitoes if I stopped eating dead animals. I was dubious at the time and still am, though I have to admit to failing to investigate the advice empirically.

  • The "Philosophy Four." With Will as our eminence grise, in 1973 a committee of the unofficial union ("The Union of College Faculty") in exactly a week (an all-time UVM record, I'm sure) investigated the cases and produced a report condemning the procedures used to justify non-reappointment of four radical philosophers. I was amazed to find the report archived – typos, illiterate sentences, and all – on Will's web site.

  • Sit-in on Divestment: Will and Gil McCann, as well as a fair number of students, were arrested in Waterman when we gathered there in the mid-80s to protest UVM's continuing investment in companies doing business in South Africa. My friend and colleague George Albee and I were left untouched -- indeed, the cops literally pushed us aside to get at Will and Gil. I attributed this to the fact that George and I were -- deliberately, and unusually for us -- wearing suits and ties, Will and Gil jeans and t-shirts. The cultural conditioning of the cops did the rest. Still haven't been able to persuade Will to wear a tie, though!

  • Will as a teacher: This is something I wrote in connection with a grievance Will filed about seven or eight years ago: "I am in no position to judge at first hand the adequacy of your teaching. My personal contacts with you over the years tell me that you are a highly articulate and exceptionally well-read colleague, passionately interested in matters of the mind, in social justice, and in teaching people to use their brains to analyze and understand ideas and society. I can think of only a handful of people I have met in my entire academic career who could match your degree of involvement with intellectual matters and social justice, and none who exceed it. I suppose it is still possible that despite all this you are a lousy teacher; my forty years in academia as a student and teacher tell me this is highly unlikely."

  • United Academics: About five years ago, when the latest unionization campaign was under way, I was not convinced the timing was right. Will and Mark Stoler took me out for a beer and changed my mind. Their argument boiled down to one question: What had changed since the three of us first fought to unionize faculty a quarter of a century earlier? Thanks to both of them!

     And thanks to Will for being in 2005 the same committed, courageous, and articulate fighter for social justice that he has been ever since I've known him, and before. You have always spoken truth to power, Will. You deserve universal thanks for that, and long may you continue to do it.

Ira Hammerslough
Burlington, Vermont
January 26, 2005


     As one of your students, I had the pleasure to learn with you about a great many subjects that were denied legitmacy elsewhere at UVM. Beyond that, though, your personality revealed itself through the manner and content of your teachings, and showed you to be a good-hearted man who was motivated by compassion, respect, and a committment to fairness. Please stay strong and beat this thing.

George W. Albee
Longboat Key, Florida
January 26, 2005

Dear Will,

     I am writing to add my good wishes and words of support. My colleague and friend Lew Lipsitt alerted me to this website. At 83+ I am a newcomer to email, but I want you to know that I admire your political stands against war and social injustice.


David Seager
Ovid, New York
January 26, 2005

     Will, I first met you in the late 1970s as a student in one of Jerry Anderson's classes at Johnson State College. The class visited your homestead in Westford one day, and I was impressed by how you integrated the beautiful house and its lovely setting with a "the personal is political" context. On another occasion the class listened to a tape of one of your talks for a book discussion group; once again, you drew out the political analysis in a manner that stimulated my own intellectual growth. At yet another event, I was enthralled by how you absolutely demolished one speaker who argued in favor of American intervention overseas.

     I arrived at college with a self-constructed but inarticulate critical Left perspective but your eloquent political analysis strengthened my own ideas and provided a model for a poor working-class kid. You are one of the people who deeply influenced my life goals: I too wanted to be a homesteader in the hills of Vermont while pursuing a life of the mind as an academic. Partly because of your influence, I continued beyond the Bachelor's degree to acquire my Master's and Doctoral degrees. Along with the members of the "Philosophy Four," you influenced my choice of dissertation topics. I will never forget the kind hospitality you offered at your home as I interviewed you for the dissertation on antiwar/New Left professors during the Vietnam War era.

     Will, you are one of the people I wish I could have known better, worked with regularly, and seen more often. Unfortunately, Vermont never took me in. Economic survival took me away to upstate New York, where at least I have a place to live that does not consume a major portion of my meager income. My greatest wish at this moment is that you get well and return to the trenches where we desperately need your valuable contributions.

Joelen Mulvaney
Barre, Vermont
January 24, 2005

Dearest Brother Will;

     Just to let you know how much your advice and counsel has helped me over the years. I know whenever I call on you I will find some ready positive and supportive response. When we first talked, you may remember, I was asking for your feedback about walking in the Barre Veteran's Day Parade as a Viet Nam Vet widow. You were so kind and understanding, it gave me the courage I needed to "come out" as an anti-war war widow.

     My husband's caskette flag has been to many demonstrations and presentations with me. When it became woefully unkempt after so much use, I was honored to have Louie Pulver and Jim Bergenron, two Army Veterans refold it for me. Everytime I hold the flag in my arms I think of you and all the other Viet Nam veterans who suffer as a result of surviving the war and those who didn't.

     I am so happy to know you and love you dearly for who you are and what you do.

With great love and affection,

Joelen Mulvaney

David Shiman
So. Burlington, Vermont
January 24, 2005

Greetings Will

Not a testimonial, although I could do that too.

I thought you might be interested in a brief speech I gave last fall on John Dewey's birthday. It focuses on his involvement in the labor movement.

Take Care,

John Dewey, Union Activist

     As President of United Academics, the faculty union of the University of Vermont, and a professor of education, I am delighted to be here today to celebrate his life and work.

     For most of us, when we think of John Dewey, we think of the school, the classroom, and the learning experience of the child. For him, schools were instruments for the creation and perpetuation of democracy. However, his passion for social justice and abiding commitment to democratic principles extended far beyond the public schools.

     He believed that voluntary organizations, particularly labor unions, had an important role to play in advancing democracy and achieving social justice goals. For the first half of the 20th century, John Dewey played a significant role in a variety of organizations that have become familiar voices in the struggle for social, economic, and political rights in the United States.

     The list is impressive. In 1909, he joined W.E.B. DuBois, Ida B. Wells, and others as a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He recognized that collective action was essential to achieve racial justice goals.

     Dewey, a professor at Columbia University, and Arthur J. Lovejoy, a philosophy professor at Johns Hopkins University, were leaders in the creation of the American Association of University Professors. Seeing faculty as a heart of the university, they issued a "call" to academics in 1913 to create an organization that would "facilitate a more effective cooperation among the members of the profession in the discharge of their special responsibilities as custodians of the interests of higher education and research in America" and make collective action possible in maintaining and advancing "the standards and ideals of the profession"(Martin 246). Central among these was the principle of academic freedom. This still remains at the heart of the academic process; collective bargaining agreements at the University of Vermont and many other institutions incorporate the AAUP's 1940 statement on academic freedom.

     In 1916, Dewey joined with Roger Baldwin, Helen Keller, Jane Addams, Norman Thomas, Felix Frankfurter, and other liberal intellectuals, who created American Union Against Militarism (AUAM) to work against the growing "war spirit" in this country. In particular, they protested the suppression of those speaking out against the Great War and possible American involvement in it.

     The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) grew out of the AUAM. Dewey was there again, supporting the ACLU's efforts to fight court injunctions to block laborers' efforts to strike and organize. He had been moved decades earlier by the brutal suppression of the Pullman Strike in 1893 and Eugene Debs' championing of their cause. (Martin 249).

     Finally, John Dewey recognized that public school teachers needed the same sorts of protection and support as other workers in this country. He called on teachers to ally themselves with organized labor. In 1916, he joined in the founding of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and supported its affiliation with the American Federation of Labor and the growing national labor movement. Throughout his life, he held Membership Card No 1 in the AFT.

     John Dewey declared over and over that educators needed to be free from coercive, censoring forces if they and their students were to thrive and grow. He declared in a 1927 speech at an AFT gathering:

"There is need for a working, aggressive organization that represents all of the interests that teachers have in common, and which, in representing them, represents also the protection of the children and the youth in the schools against all of the outside interests, economic and political and others, that would exploit the schools for their own ends, and in doing so reduce the teaching body to a condition of intellectual vassalage" (Dewey, 1).

      It is a message we dare not ignore today.


Dewey, J. (1927). Why I Am A Member of the Teachers Union, The American Teacher (January 1928). Excerpt retrieved on October 15, 2004,

Martin, J. (2002) The Education of John Dewey, New York: Columbia University Press.

Rippa, S. A. (1988). Education in a Free Society: An American History. New York: Longman Inc.

Jerry Anderson
Eden, Vermont
January 23, 2005

The Philosopher's Dance

     The Will I know is a philosopher. He and I taught philosophy together at UVM in the early 70's. You probably know of the ancient Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” Well, interesting times they were! We were cursed with consciousness about the nature of our world, and we were blessed with a community of fellow optimists who believed we could change it. Indeed, it was a community we created together as we were all recently out of graduate school or early on in our academic teaching adventures. And to know Will is to know that he was a key part of that quest to become the change we sought. Ideas make a difference to philosophers, and thinking about thinking is our trade. But Will not only thought about philosophical ideas, he embodied the energy to combine theory and practice. Like Marx he knew that it was one thing to understand the world, but the point was to change it, and help change it Will did.

     Of course like all change, it is rarely what we expect it to be. In 1970 UVM was germinating new ideas and over a dozen of us had emerged from campuses that encompassed new ways of thinking about our lives, our teaching and our students. Will, Jim and I had crossed paths at the U. of Illinois where I passed through during a turbulent semester in my life—the semester JFK was killed. Each of us took Max Fisch's Plato class at similar times (although I did not know them then), but Will was the one who would remember that while Plato was an aristocrat, it was Socrates who was the son of a stone cutter. Will was an electrician by trade from Chicago, and he combined class-consciousness with the wisdom of a philosopher who knew theory without practice was hollow. Will led us into the streets, out of our classrooms, into the hallways of protest, in defiance of entrenched prejudice and ignorance, and we all demanded a fairer world. We changed our university and we were changed by it. It was a time when teachers became students, and students became teachers and we all paused to ponder its meaning. And Will's giant mind was always at work helping us see our world in new ways. By the time our community was torn asunder by the dangers that face those who dare question authority, we had left a mark that added to the chorus of voices from the 60's and 70's, and Will remained vigilant and recorded what happened, and carried that history on to new generations that followed ours. As a Socratic gadfly, he has not let the University forget its past injustices. Through his tireless chronology of UVM's purges and offences against academic freedom, he has tied the past to the present, and as a result he has felt the sting to his own comfort and career.

     It was Will who first taught me that when the Left forms a firing squad, it stands in a circle. I guess it was prophetic of what we all had to go through as we learned how to struggle with academia to transcend existing dogma. Trying times even challenge friendships and push us onto different paths. They remind us to think about friendship and realize that even when friends take separate paths, their lives keep intersecting in ways that allow fellow travelers to meet again and again. We who live in this small town called Vermont know that our friends are often just around the corner. I have not seen Will often in the past quarter century, but I know his indomitable spirit every time I meet it.

     Will has always helped me define what a philosopher is. Socrates taught us that the unexamined life is not worth living, but we were learning that the unlived life is not worth examining and so we did both with a passion that sustained us even when injustice reigned. Will taught me to tear down the walls around the ivory tower of academia and know that change comes when ideas seek action. We were philosophers learning how to become carpenters and electricians and gardeners. And we were looking for ways to make carpenters, electricians, and gardeners into philosophers.

     Will is a man for all seasons. He is a teacher, a builder, a gardener, a homesteader and a thinker. He lives with compassion, and he is loved by those who have learned from his passion and his courage. He not only speaks truth to power, but he helps others understand why values matter and humans must act with thoughtfulness. He knows ideas are real and that they can help us act responsibly toward others. And we philosophers never seem to stop pondering about everything including the meaning of life itself.

     In the early 70's Will joined several of us who went to a philosophy convention in N.Y. that was held at the grand old Waldorf Astoria. At the evening reception, distinguished philosophers dressed in tweed and arm patches mingled and honed their careers below the sparkling chandeliers. Then a circle of buckskinned, angelic, tambourine playing, mellow, dancing flower children began to emerge in the center of the splendid ballroom. A longhaired man playing enchanting melodies on the flute began to dance around the parameter of the circle as the cocktail philosophers feigned indifference and toasted their philosophical erudition. This minstrel was Freddie Z., a well-published Aristotle scholar who had distinguished himself through his analytic interpretations of Aristotle's philosophy of lying. In this room of profound thinkers, Freddie would occasionally dance up to the edge, catch the eye of a disdainful academic, and whisper, “Live Life.” A year or so later I heard that Freddie had died suddenly at an untimely young age, and I flashed back to the image of a man who not only knew how to live life but who had taught me to think in a new way through his actions. I knew Freddie had lived and I was comforted.

     Whenever I hear of a friend who is struggling with illness, I often feel my own sense of mortality. Then I flash to our group discussions with Will and others about Heidegger's philosophy of death, and I remember his notion that it is with such revelation we come to realize how every moment must be savored and lived as deliberately as if it is the last. And I remember Freddy living and dancing. And I think of Will who is still teaching us to think, and act, and speak truth through living deliberately. Even when he speaks in a soft voice his ideas are strong and can be heard over the drumbeats and blowback from the current war that brings a plague down on humanity. I then think of Tom Joad in Grapes of Wrath talking to Ma who is worried about his fate. Then he says to her,

“Well, maybe like Casey says, a fella ain't got a soul of his own, but on'y a piece of a big one—and' then…. Then it don' matter. Then I'll be all aroun' in the dark. I'll be ever'where—everywhere you look. Wherever they's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever they's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. …why, I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad an'—I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and know supper's ready. An when our folks eat the stuff they raise an' live in the houses they build—why I'll be there.”
     Life is so fickle that we never know who will be here to watch the snow melt into spring, to harvest the summer garden, or stop the latest inhumanity. I guess we go on comforted by the knowledge that we live in each other's actions and in the will to live deliberately. Take care, friend Will, I will see you around the next corner! In the meantime, live life!

Jerry Anderson

Eden, VT
January 2005

Terry Allen
new york but VT in my heart
January 23, 2005

hey will,

     Ever the fighter, you will wrastle this too, to victory. I've been thinking a lot of you, and what an ispiration you are to many. I still remember your profoundly snarky comment during the anti-apartheid movement at UVM, when you noted that so faculty members were so deep in the woodwork that they had been painted over several time.

     No one has ever said that of you--a person of principle and a comrade who has never shrunk from a struggle.

     You are a great ally and a terrifying opponent: steadfast in both capacities. And a valued friend.

All the best.

Love and strength,

Alison Mirylees
Canterbury, England
January 23, 2005

Dear Will,

      I would like to thank you for being a wonderful professor, a friend and simply the honor of knowing you. You always put students ahead- wether it is allowing everyone to take your classes no matter how full, taking time after class to talk to a student or lending extra reading material.

     I feel that I learnt more than just the academic aspects of Marxism and the Foundations of Education last year. You taught me to approach academia in an entirely different way. I not only respected your way of teaching but the way you taught by example. The morals and values that you teach are not from some lofty pedastal but demonstrated everyday in your actions- using everyone's first name, caring for your sheep, drinking coffee out of your reusable mug or showing up at every protest.

     I believe that you showed my classmates and I another way of life. I feel your presence helped more firmly establish my morals. You live by the things you teach and for this, I have a great appreciation and respect.

     Your classes gave a wealth of knowledge- through handouts, reading, magazines and movies. I have shared these facts with friends and family, recommended your website and had a house viewing of "The History Book" cartoons. For those of you at UVM- I highly recommend taking these out of the library as they are a quite unique approach to capitalism.

     I respect you greatly and am eternally grateful for all that you have introduced me to. I feel that you do not judge others but simply try to stand as a guide to those who are lost and attempting to deal with the problems of this confusing and troubling world.

     Thank you for making me a stronger fighter- one stronger and more prepared. And thank you for being a great teacher, a friend and always being incredibly understanding of the overwhelming confusion of students. I wish you blue skies, sunshine and above all-good health. Take good care of yourself.

love, light and energy,

Dawn Saunders
East Middlebury, Vermont
January 23, 2005

Will has, to me, been nothing less than an inspiration, demonstrating the power of uncompromising principle, and tireless persistance. He reminds me of my favorite Bible phrase when I was young, that with faith the size of a mustard seed, one can move mountains.

Thanks, Will!

Chris Halpin
Essex Junction, Vermont
January 22, 2005

     What a pleasure, Will, to view the photos on this site and to feel how I do every time I'm in your presence! I will never stop learning from experiencing the way you live! You have challanged and encouraged since beyond the time I first met you in 1980 as a twenty-year old student in a UVM philosophy class and you will continue to do so. I have no doubt that because you have shown all in our communites the ultimate triumph of those who persist and perserver that you have truly earned your name, Will.

     I watch and listen to the inaugeration and ask myself whether the state of our nation can get any worse. I think, "Probably so but not likely for too long." The time is arriving when even our corporate media is asking the question whether this pre-millenialist lunatic they allowed to take the helm is too crazy even for them. Like the U.S. used religious reactionaries to battle the Soviets, and eventually suffered at the zealots hands, the U.S. conservative elite is beginning to understand it has helped create a monster that could harm it. The elite won't let right-wing theocrats in Washington get away with this for too much longer, in great part, because of their knowledge of the breadth of opposition, domestically and internationally, to Bush's policies.

     "Yes, true." I can hear you now telling me that all we're getting now is more of the same. I guess, then, what we're handing back is more of the same resistance that you have inspired and enabled for decades. I see your footprints everywhere in this community. Those footprints are steps that I, and we, ought to be proud to follow. I know your eager steps have made impressions loud enough to make established interests uncomfortable: Take heart in knowing the FBI asked me years ago whether your home was a place where activists gather. Take heart, too, in knowing I had nothing to tell them.

     I can't imagine, Will, that the places you are going will be any different than the places you have been. Your leadership in the quests for meaningful lives in our communities though truth, and ultimately justice, will continue to inspire. The love you've shared will keep coming back at you. I'd love to hear from you soon. E-mail me!

Kathy Manning
Higher Education and Student Affairs Program, UVM
January 21, 2005

Will, You don't know me. I'm a professor of higher education administration here at UVM. I have long admired the role that you have played at UVM and in higher education, in general. Higher education institutions need more people like the Will Millers to keep administrators honest, challenge complacent faculty members, make students think differently, and just generally rabble rouse. Thanks for your years of hard work! Kathy Manning Associate Professor

Beth Mintz
Burlington, Vermont
January 21, 2005

Hi Will,

     Do you remember when we first met? It was when Ralph Underhill was denied tenure in my department and we tried to figure out what we could do about it. Not much in that case, but of the many struggles at UVM here are the ones that come immediately to mind. First, I remember your role in the South Africa divestment campaign, your support and advice to students and your wisdom in letting them lead. The many union drives that led to an eventual victory. Your lobbying in Montpelier to get the university declared a public instrumentality for the purposes of labor relations that successfully protected us from the Yeshiva decision; without that, unionization would have been impossible. Your work with SPARC and as a result, the wonderful speakers that they brought to campus and the wonderful political work that they did. Your arrest in Waterman; felony, wasn't it? Took several weeks for that to disappear. Was that when they cuffed you? And your work getting salary information released to the public; when they went from library reserve to your web site, access grew exponentially. But tell me, is it true that your salary web page gets more hits than any other page on the UVM server?

     Indeed, your hard work and numerous contributions to social justice and equity on campus stand out in my mind and on behalf of all of us, I sincerely thank you for it all. What also stands out for me are the many conversations that we have had in which you managed to change my mind on an issue; how, much more often than not, your analysis made sense and your insight revealing. I thank you for all those times when you offered clarity.

     Finally, I remind you of all those Sunday morning Green Mountain Fund for Popular Struggle meetings with bagels, coffee, and grant proposals to consider. What a pleasure it was to be able to fund those projects and what a pleasure it was to get that overview of the fabulous work being done in our communities. Another instance when your insight was invaluable!

     Will, get well soon and remember that I love you very much.


Louanne Nielsen
Jericho, Vermont
January 20, 2005


     This country's problems are more complex and pervasive than ever before. The best way for change to occur is by individuals voicing their opinions through grassroot organizations. At times we feel that we are just a "drop in the bucket" but we have learned from you, Will, that your drop in the bucket has filled buckets to the brim many times over. Your actions have had a rippling effect. You've made us think, question and articulate our ideas and opinions. We are stronger because of your strength and courage to fight the fight whatever it may be. You have touched many lives, both young and old. We appreciate your passion for justice, desire for change and patience with us who are still learning from you. Thanks for being our voice when we couldn't find our own.

Charlotte Dennett
Cambridge, Vermont
January 20, 2005

     What better day than Inauguration Day to salute Will. First of all, he'd be there if he could. Second, if he's watching it on TV this afternoon, he's probably shaking his head at the sight of protesters pushing against a steel barrier and swat teams at Freedom Plaza, trying to get near a Darth-Vaderish motorcade that even conservative George Will called "unseemly -- it looks like a military operation, or a setting in a Banana Republic." Another ABC commentator pointed out that someone from the American Wrestling Team (remember the team financed by John DuPont until he flipped out and killed one of the wrestlers?) was giving the assembled crowd a megaphoned pep talk before the motorcade approached – a truly Orwellian touch, the commentator said, and in fact one of many today.

     And the President rides blissfully on, barely visible behind dark-tinted windows, no doubt thinking the world is inspired by his words. Maybe it's a good sign that even the mainstream media feels compelled to comment. When they say nothing is when we really have to worry.

     Will would have put this all more eloquently, backed up with statistics about the two Bushes, their two wars, what has changed during the interim, some pertinent historical background, and of course, what we need to do about it. Whether we're sharing a teach-in on the Middle East, walking a picket-line, or just comparing notes, Will's intelligence and compassion have always amazed me, and I often come away thinking: Now there's a true philosopher for our times! The other day I watched one of Jerry's and my old "Where Do You Stand?" cable TV shows featuring Will on the first Iraq War , with accompanying documentary footage about the buildup to the war and the dreadful loss of Iraqi lives in its aftermath. One of our best shows --fresh, insightful, empowering. That's Will for you: devoted teacher and activist rolled into one.

     And my guess is, he's thanking George Bush for his second inaugural address proclaiming America as a champion of freedom against tyranny. "You can't have freedom at home without freedom abroad," Bush said. I guess its up to us to turn it around. With Will urging us on, we will show the President how seriously we take our freedom, beginning right at home.

Anne Molleur Hanson
Craftsbury, Vermont
January 19, 2005

     I find this web site so inspiring--I visit it often and figure it's now time for me to say hi and "Warm Heart" to Will and his wonderful friends and family and fellow travelers and tell you all about a side of Will that hasn't really come out much in all of these testimonials. I met Will in April 2002 when many Vermonters all-night-bused to DC for the first massive protest against the Bush Admin policies post 9/11, specifically the US war in Afghanistan. Our bus was full but I had noticed Will early on, as well as Paul Hood, both of whom were representing Green Mountain Vets for Peace. At any peace rally I've attended I'm always most inspired by the Vets for Peace folks--and I was so glad to have a small contingent on our bus (and so amazed that in my mid 30s I could find the seats and ride so long and often uncomfortable--those with white hair on the bus really impressed me! They never complained) But you know what? Even though Will and a bunch of us spent the day together marching with our Hardwick Area Peace and Justice Banner--I did not get to know Will. That whole day--including the bus ride, he was a really quiet guy! It's true!!I had no idea here was this wonderful professor, this veteran peace and justice activist, this person with incredible recall for facts and such an amazing grasp of complicated matters and historical perspective on so much stuff. In fact, he was so quiet that whole trip, I thought probably this man had come out of the woods from the hinterlands of Vermont somewhere, wearing his old fatigues shirt to say NO in his own laconic way! And of course, that latter impression was certainly part of what he was doing on that trip. I think it also says a lot about Will's humility. But if I'd known what an incredible speaker he is, and how much I could have learned in those multiple hours we shared the same environs, I would have asked him for a short course on Marxism or US military history (the untold story) or even just about what in his life had brought him to DC that weekend!

     Well, the good news is that I did see the other amazing side of Will several months later, at a rally on the Statehouse Lawn-- He also has trekked twice in the past year and a half to Hardwick to give some incredible talks on matters relating to U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, and on Depleted Uranium. Both times he declined any offer of payment for gas money or his time, (though I think once we insisted he take some cookies for the car ride!) but he has done much to inform a few of us in the Hardwick area about essential matters. I honor him, and Ann-whom I hope to meet someday, and am so grateful to them for all of their good work on this earth! Thank you, friends. You are in so so many of our hearts!

Dan Goossen
Boston Public Library, Massachusetts
January 18, 2005


     I join the ranks of the many students whom over the years you have inspired and influenced greatly. When I first got to UVM six years ago I was somewhat lost, knowing that world was already turning upside down, but not knowing completely how to focus my energies to do anything about it or to even understand. It seems now looking back that it didn't take long at all for me to get sucked into the wonderful world of activism, and I largely have you to thank for that. I suppose it must have been an early SPARC meeting where I first met you and was instantly impressed and overwhelmed that I had found someone with not all of the answers, but with a heck of a lot of them, and real good idea on where to find the rest. Since then I have had countless opportunies to appreciate you as an incredible source of knowledge, inspiration and compassion.

     Will you are one of the most dedicated people I have ever met. Wether showing up for a sparc meeting in the worst storm of the season when only two students managed to get there, or agreeing last minute to give an exhaustive history of twentieth century of american imperialism, or coming all the way to campus on a weekend to tell the history of che for an hour on my radio show in honor of his birthday, or staying an extra 45 minutes after a late meeting to discuss current events in cuba, you always are willing to pull through and share the vast wealth of knowledge you somehow are able to retain.      I feel completely honored to have met you and gotten to know you and share some of that knowledge of yours over the years. You are a tireless warrior in the unending battle against the opressors of this world, and I'm confident in saying that your impact has bettered the lives of many more people than you could ever know.

     The impact that you have had on my life is inmeasurable. Were it not for the endless information I gleaned from lectures, talks, class, and personal conversations, I probably wouldn't be writing you from the library in boston, waiting for my flight off to central america in yet another attempt to better the lives of those less fortunate. I thank you for expanding my view of the world and for being such a wonderful teacher, friend, and comrade to all of the uncountable lives that you have touched.

     Get well Will, stay strong, and I look forward to sharing more stories in the near future!

much love,
en solidaridad,
Dan Goossen

Geoff Thale
Washington, D.C.
January 17, 2005

Hi, Will,

     I'm sorry to hear about your illness; I have no doubt that you are fighting it with all your strength and determination, just like you have done with everything else.

     I lived in Burlington from 1978 to 1981, and did anti-draft work (after Jimmy Carter re-instated the draft), and that morphed into Central America solidarity work after the Sandinistas won, and the FMLN looked like it might. I met you in the course of that work, spent time working with you politically, and with you and Ann personally. You had a reputation as a radical. You turned out, more importantly, to be a serious activist and organizer, not just talking the line, but going to the meetings, writing the leaflets and helping to hand them out, recruiting students and others. And beyond that, you turned out to be warm and engaging, and a great person to spend time with. I still think of you, the meetings I attended with you, and the visits to Westford.

Take care,
Geoff Thale

Jason Ford
Burlington, Vermont
January 17, 2005

Greetings Will and Ann,

     My thoughts have been turning to you over the past weeks as I have been updated on Will's health. It has been touching and inspiring to spend some time on this site reading messages and well wishes from friends and comrades from around the country to you in these hard times. I am honored to be able add my own.

     Despite being at many of the same meetings, demonstrations, and events since I first met you in the spring of 2000, just after the mobilizations against the IMF and World Bank in Washington, DC, I regret to say that I would like to know both of you better than I do.

     Will, my earliest memory of you was at a meeting of the Vermont Action Network on the UVM campus in the spring of 2000. I had just started working for the Native Forest Network at the time, and appreciated your friendly welcome to the global justice movement in Burlington. I remember being pleasantly surprised that one of my elders, and a UVM faculty member, was so obviously excited and inspired to work with young, bright-eyed radicals.

     I want to thank you, and Ann, not only for your direct support and involvement in many of the projects I worked on with NFN, and later Action for Social and Ecological Justice, but for your work with the Green Mountain Fund for Popular Struggle. In my mere 5 or so years of political activism and organizing, I have known of, and had the pleasure of working with, only a few foundations supporting, and promoting radical political work, and the Green Mt. Fund was one of them.

     The last time I worked closely with you was, I believe, the spring of 2003, as part of the General Dynamics Working Group. I had the pleasure of attending a meeting of the group at your lovely home in Westford, and getting to know you a little better there. I'm happy to hear that the group is still going, focusing on education and organizing around depleted uranium use in military weaponry -- more testimony to your commitment to environmental and social justice for soldiers, civilians, and veterans alike. This spring 2003 meeting was one of the first memories of both of you that came to mind when I sat down to write this testimony -- one of happier times for you. Thank you for your kind hospitality that day.

     These days I am working as a union organizer with the American Federation of Teachers, which represents the UVM faculty, on a drive to organize the staff at UVM. One of the reasons that I am able to do this work is because of the years of struggle that Will was involved in fighting for the rights of faculty to organize.

     Will and Ann, I send you this tribute as a small token of thanks for your years of commitment to the struggle in Vermont and beyond, and look forward to more "trouble making" with you in the future.

Yours in Solidarity,
Jason Ford

Dan Barry
Washington, D.C.
January 16, 2005

     thanks, will, for so much that you have done for me and so many others. thanks for inspiring me to major in philosophy, and for being my advisor. thanks for also being the unofficial advisor for my unofficial third major -- activism. thanks for agreeing to sponsor the Gadfly, and SPARC in 1984. you made us feel like those were great ideas, that UVM needed us to participate, and that we would make a difference. you were right. thanks for never saying 'no' when we asked you to stand up and speak out for those of us whose concerns bordered on anger, an anger that prevented many of us from being able to articulate our rage. your eloquence made our rage seem reasonable, and made us proud of what we were doing. thanks for inviting your classes to visit with you at your home. that made us feel like adults, your peers, respected.

     will, your very name has been a lesson in intention and persistence for me. rather than saying "i might," or "we should," you taught us to say "we will."

     we will. we did. we do.

dan barry

Michael Parenti
Berkeley, California
January 16, 2005

Dear Will

     I remember that the one great stalwart in my life when I was at UVM and besieged by the imperialists and the liberals and the jealous "comrades," the one true friend who consistently stood by me was you. And you did so out of your great humanity and also because of your superbly fine and uncompromising politics, your unswerving dedication to truth and social justice.

     And that solidarity continued through the years when it seemed you almost alone among the surviving UVM lefties continued to organize, educate, and agitate. Indeed, it was you, thru your efforts mostly, that I was able to return to speak at UVM at least two--or was it three--times over the years. And it was always great to see you and Ann and visit the ole sheep farm.

     I am sending good wishes and strong "vibes" as we used to say (oh, you probably still say), and if love can cure, then the love that comes from me and so many of your friends whose lives you have touched in such meaningful ways, should help you in regaining your health. Please get well soon, Will. We need you more than ever.


Peter Huber
Monkton, Vermont
January 15, 2005

     I recall first meeting you when you moved to Shelburne in 1969, I was just out of college. Although I'd quit ROTC in college in protest over the war, attended sit-ins, demos, and a few SDS meetings, I'd not begun to assemble a perspective on things until I'd had a few enlightening and empowering conversations with you. The particulars of these are lost to time, but I clearly recall that you held forth with power, intelligence and conviction. Of course this has been your trademark style as a teacher and an activist, and so many people have been so deeply affected by your words and your actions.

     Do you recall the April '71 action in D.C.? I took a photograph of you and other dedicated Vermont activists as we gathered on the park benches someone had conveniently hauled into the street to serve as a barricade. Although our intention that day was serious, to bring to a halt a government that had spun out of control in pursuit of a cruel and illegal war, the photo shows that you all are joyous and appreciative of the humor of the pose. And, after all, nowhere else would Will Miller be found taking a "middle of the road" position!

     Please know that your work has touched my life. I continue to teach in an alternative high school program for kids who suffer from cultural and economic oppression. I am committed to a leadership role in my union, and I am presently undertaking training as a counselor in conscientious objection. Thanks to you and so many other committed leaders in my life, I have a perspective that guides my actions and a strong belief that the people united can never be defeated. Thank you.

In peace and solidarity,
Peter Huber

Darini Nichols
Brooklyn, NY
January 15, 2005

Dear Will,

     It gives me great honour to be able to share my testimonial with you and to be able to add to those amazing testimonials of others whose lives you have touched.

     I remember the first demonstration I participated in Burlington, Vermont--the protest against the Gulf War in 1999, where I saw you for the first time standing under the 'Veterans for Peace' banner with a megaphone in hand. I remember craning my neck to listen to what you had to say that day outside of UVM, and to this day recall that it was at that moment that I for the first time understood the extent and impact of the U.S. government's military intervention policy in the world at large.

     Later that day our protest ended in being arrested for our sit in at Bernie's office where we demanded an explanation for his support of the Gulf War and got none. Considering it was my first political arrest--I said why not, its time I took a stand and what better jail company to keep than Will Miller's?

     I will always be inspired by your vigilence, your strength and your unwavering commitment to the struggle for social justice, and most importantly your commitment to make the personal political. I say this because I had seen no better example until, I saw how you and Ann had made a beautiful home in harmony with the natural environment--you've made it possible for us to visualize our future and how to apply our politics to our daily lives.

     Will, your legacy and inspiration will continue to thrive through us, your former students of the activist and philosophical tradition, and even through larger institutions such as UVM, where you have not only taught us the importance of never giving up until we've won our battle--UVM today offers its faculty and adjunct faculty the sanctity of a teacher's union--it does so because of you.

     With thanks and admiration, I wish you and Ann, love, peace and endurance during this difficult time.


Kim Gilman
Dartmouth, MA
January 14, 2005


     For days I've been mulling over our 20 plus-year-old friendship, trying to figure out how to condense such a friendship onto paper. It took rewatching a video that you took of a 2 y.o. Ari feeding your sheep to make me realize the message that I wanted to share here. (Ari was feeding the sheep with such determination and when he looked up at you, you reassured him that it was ok to smile!) You have shown me that fighting the good fight doesn't mean that you can't have fun along the way - a lesson I have taken to heart. It has made many a situation bearable, kept hope alive, and given energy when fatigue has threatened to take over.

     Will, you are a man of great compassion. You hold people accountable for their actions, yet are generous with your hugs. You are, in my eyes, a human being who gives the best of himself to a world sorely lacking at times, and in the process have inspired many to follow your example.

     I treasure our dreams of a kinder, more responsible world...dreams that I'm not willing to give up on yet! I treasure my memories of the many rallies, demonstrations and meetings that we attended, of the cords of wood stacked, of the conversations that lasted well into the night, and of the good food shared with even better company.

     Thanks, my friend, for opening your heart and clenching your fist!

With much love and a big hug,

Ari Fishbein
Dartmouth, Massachusetts
January 14, 2005

Will, you are nice and I think that you are my mom and dad's best friend.

Ari (4 y.o.)

Devin Kruse
Cupertino, CA
January 14, 2005

Thanks Will.

Devin Kruse
UVM 77,85

David Fisk
Post Mills, Vermont
January 14, 2005

Hello, Will,

     Your course 'Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric' was the most important I took at UVM. It oriented my head to think critically about what others are saying, whether they are politicians on the tube or negotiators across the table. It has served me well.

Thank you, and best wishes
David Fisk
UVM '74

Southern Vermont Veterans For Peace, Chapter 88
South of Route 4
January 14, 2005

Dear brothers and sisters:

At it's Sunday, January 9, 2005 meeting in Brattleboro VT, Southern Vermont Veterans For Peace Chapter 88 passed the following resolution:

Southern Vermont Veterans For Peace Chapter 88, sister chapter to Green Mountain Veterans For Peace Chapter 57, recognizes the contributions that VFP member Will Miller has made and continues to make to the cause of peace and justice in the world."

We salute and honor brother Will Miller and his lifelong committment to making the world more peaceful and just. We will continue in Will's footsteps as we Wage Peace! La lucha continua.

Jozef Hand-Boniakowski
Southern Vermont Veterans For Peace, Chapter 88

Nancy Brown
January 14, 2005

Hi Will,

     This is not a testimonial, it is a short note because I am at work-- on my lunch break--during which I am working on the messages to Vermont Military Families Speak Out, organizing, agonizing...waiting for Ryan to come home from Iraq. You and Joseph were the first ones to encourage me to keep speaking out against the Iraq War. You are my mentors. Even in the short time I worked with you, I could see you are one of those very special people who change others' lives dramatically for the better. I look forward to seeing you soon--meanwhile, I am going to coninue PART of your work...

Nancy Brown

Louis Bickford
New York
January 13, 2005

     WILL -- Looking at these testimonials, it must be clear (if there was ever any doubt) that you have influenced so many people in so many ways over the years.

     We owe you a great debt ... for teaching us to be philosophers (for some, as a professional discipline, but also, for us all, in the broadest sense of that word: lovers of wisdom; critical thinkers); for setting an example of what it means to live consistently with your beliefs, which so few of us in the world really do; for inspiring us with your exuberance and rage; for sponsoring our organizations (I just saw the SPARC webite. What a treat that an organization that a few us us created back then is still around! I remembering toiling for hours to get that acronym, and see now that it has stood the test of time); for opening your home and heart to us; for leading us, as the great teachers do, into new worlds of knowledge and questioning.

     There are a few -- a very few --teachers that make a difference in one's life. In mine, there is no doubt that you were one, and that is a great thing. I hope little more than that someone will one day say that about me.

Much love to you (and Ann!) in this difficult time.

George Longenecker
Marshfield, Vermont
January 13, 2005

Dearest Will-

     I have fond memories of our trips to New York for the Socialist Scholars conferences. The bed and breakfast on Crosby Street with all its funky memorabilia was a great place to stay with Judy and Jay. I recall staying with you in the old carriage house next door the next year. Remember the door that locked you in when I went out. Then there was the year we all stayed in that hotel above Battery Park with the view of the harbor.

     Those trips were a chance to get to know you and your many political and personal stories - demos- family -sheep- Marxism- philosophy. Of course everyone who knows you knows that you never repeat the same story more than three times. Your political history inspired me. Talking with you and going to Socialist Scholars inspired me to learn more about 19th century socialist writers, especially Morris and Bellamy, a project that I turned into a Vermont Humanities Council grant and book discussion.

Your presence at so many demonstrations has been an inspiration. This has been a rough time; it's good to know that you and so many others are steadfast in opposing US hegemony and mania.

     Then there were times at Judy and Jays, good food, snow falling, the hot tub, friends and dialogue.

Carry on.
With peace and love, George

Milton Fisk
Bloomington, Indiana
January 13, 2005

     Will Miller's activism is an inspiration to all of us. He sacrificed many of the things we all seek for social justice. I knew Will as a union activist in the 1970s, at precisely the time I was involved in an effort to unionize Indiana University faculty. He showed great courage in confronting union busting administrations from the 1970s right through to the 2000s. There was never a suspicion that Will was looking for the power of leadership in any of the many social struggles he undertook. He spoke truth to power out of a dedication to the social good. I wish him the best now in his courageous struggle for his life.

Sara Stowell
Vermont & El Salvador
January 12, 2005

     Will, I know you vicariously through Charley MacMartin, and a few times that we met and communicated, again, at Charley´s suggestion, on activist things related to El Salvador. But inevitably when Charley and I have a conversation about politics, activism and the world, your name comes up. And since Charley has been a key support person for my own activism, I know too that you have been there, forming the ideas to be debated, and offering presence for generations of activists who learned in your classrooms, walked beside you at protests, and organized and thought along side you in so many venues. Thanks for your support especially of the work of Compa - which was where I invested my time during my brief stay at UVM in 1989 - for help fundraising, for help organizing after the offensive and subsecuent murder of so many organized people in El Salvador...

     I make my home in Proctorsville, Vermont, although I am heading back to El Salvador for a couple of months to lead 130 compañeros and compañeras from the US to the 25 anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Romero. I see from other people´s comments that many of their connections to you were also in part through El Salvador. So, I will carry your image with me to El Salvador this year, and although I am not the praying kind, I will invoke Romero, who I think probably speaks as much to us believers in Justice as he does to those believers in Jesus for your recovery and future good health. And here´s an invitation - 2006 in San Salvador?

En solidaridad,
Sara Stowell

Ellen Dorsch
Grand Isle, Vermont
January 12, 2005

Dear Will,

     Your presence and actions keep reminding me that I working for change is an on-going process. I'm thinking of you and wishing you strength and energy.


David Christensen
Burlington, Vermont
January 12, 2005

     Of all the teachers my students and advisees have talked to me about, one is--by a very wide margin!--most often cited as having stimulated them to rethink their fundamental assumptions, and as having shown them a way of looking at the world they'd never before encountered. Of course, that teacher is you.

     Take good care of yourself, and know that we are thinking of you.


Diane Zeigler
Montpelier, Vermont
January 11, 2005

     When I started at UVM in 1983, my brother Jimmy Zeigler (who was then a UVM senior) was diagnosed with leukemia. He died 9 months later in December 1984, just days after final exams. While I don't pretend to know what you're experiencing right now, I do have an idea of how painful (and transforming) a cancer battle can be. I'm rooting for you, praying for you, and am grateful for this chance to read the personal testimonies of so many others ... and to tell you how you've inspired me.

     At the time I first heard the name Will Miller I was well entrenched in a local culture that had absolutely no contact with the radical left of UVM. Raised in Burlington, I still lived at home because my folks couldn't afford dorm expenses. Socially, this felt like the kiss of a freshman, all I ever wanted was to be like everyone else; I pitied myself and watched on-campus students with a sad fascination and jealousy. To make me feel even more like a freak, my family had a tangible on-campus presence as well, through the Catholic Newman Center where, for almost two years, daily masses were held in honor of my brother during his illness (and after). In retrospect, I now see how lucky I was to have my family right there in Burlington during this much more difficult it would have been if I was attending school out-of-state like everyone I envied, away from the opportunity to witness my brother's daily struggle to come to terms with his own death. But at the time... trust me, it sucked.

     Shortly after Jimmy died I pried myself away from the Catholic community and found my new home in shantytown on main campus. It was an emotional move as well as a political one.... an escape from the stifling love of my family and our tragedy. What I didn't know was that meeting you and other members of the anti-apartheid community at UVM would change the course of my life; I wonder now what path I would have chosen if I hadn't had that opportunity. To my surprise, I found a personal liberation in my growing understanding of social struggles and this somehow made me less of a slave to my own.

     Being an English/History major, I never took one of your classes but became close friends with many who had; among that group, it is an understatement to say your reputation preceded you. I wished I had room for more electives so that I could enjoy a trip out to the legendary homestead for woodstacking parties. But I finally did get a chance to work with you when I ran for the student Senate and landed a spot on the Committee on Legislative Action, where you were the faculty advisor. Until I met you, I'd never known a professor who treated students like they were equals. There weren't many during my tenure at UVM, but there were a few... and you were the first I had the good fortune to be acquainted with. Despite the painfully obvious fact that you could think circles around all of us, your students always felt respected and valued, treated as though we mattered, as though there was no where else on the planet you would rather be at that moment, as though our ideas even excited you. I have been lucky enough to know several teachers in my life who were invigorated by the experience of teaching itself, but never one with such a beautiful and brilliant mind as yours. It was downright flattering to have that light shine in my direction. It took me a while to get used to it, and I went through a period where I was completely in awe of you and would blush if you ever looked in my direction, for fear you might ask me a question that I'd actually have to respond to. I just could not understand how any human being could be so articulate and graceful and argue a point like a poet. It's your great strength, and how you've inspired us with it!

     My roller-coaster experience of moving from the center of UVM's Catholic community to its activist core gave me, I think, a unique understanding of the meaning of the word 'conviction'. It contains an element of faith, does it not? Faith in what we believe can be, faith in what we believe people deserve, faith in the powerless, faith in the peacemakes, faith in the earth. Your faith, your conviction, your vision...continues to inspire me, and dare I say, us. The well-deserved outpouring of sentiment on this website comes from the heart of a community grateful to call a you a friend and a comrade.

With love,

Eric Sakai
Randolph, Vermont
January 11, 2005

     Will and Ann (I know this is about Will, but their names, like their persons, are almost inseparable for me—-it's hard not to think or say WillandAnn) have been dear friends for many years. We have worked together on some political projects, like CISPES, the Vermont board of the Haymarket People's Fund, and, for over a decade, the board of our homegrown Green Mountain Fund for Popular Struggle. But it is the cherished friend that I would like to speak of here.

     It must have been 1982 when I met Will. At the time, I was teaching at UVM and naively thought I could enlist the endorsement of my fellow faculty in the Department of Romance Languages in opposing U.S. support of the butchery by the Salvadoran military. Turns out one isn't supposed to do such things (at least not on Department letterhead!) for fear of disrupting the serene objectivity of the ivory tower. After getting my hand slapped, I got a note from Will offering condolence, encouragement, support—the kind of bear-hug gesture of friendship that has become a beacon in my life to help me find my bearings. Suzanne and I spent some of our first dates and many sweet, happy days after that at WillandAnn's house, which is now a favorite destination of our daughters as well.

     Will is one of the kindest people I know. He assumes only the best about his friends, offering solace in hard times and celebration in good times. I know there are those who find Will "difficult," and that's another reason why I love him! In Spanish, the word is "intransigente"—-uncompromising. For all of the patience and gentleness he lavishes on friends, we all know that he has little tolerance for those who suppose that courting Republicrats is the road to social justice. It matters far less to me that I don't agree with all of his positions than that we need an intransigente like Will to keep us mindful of the slippery slope of compromise. Whenever we get complacent or smug about where we are in the struggle for a more humane and just world, there is Will to remind us that there's still more to do.

     And he's done so much! Many of his other friends can account better for all Will has done on the front lines of the battles against abusive power, genocidal madness, greed, discrimination. I've never figured out how he's managed to do it all, along with a distinguished teaching career, but I'm grateful that his energy and determination have carried him—-and us—-as far as they have.

     But back to that dear friend. Will has enriched my life enormously, and I have learned a lot from him—-not just from the polymath who seems to know something about everything but from the warm and generous human being who truly lives his vision for a better world. Thank you, Will (and Ann), for much laughter, wonderful meals at your house, many long and thoughtful discussions of all sorts of things that matter, gardening and carpentry tips, your leadership in our various conspiracies, your courageous example in speaking truth to power, your boundless optimism, your love. For me, for all of us, you will always be presente!


Aaron Hawley
Richmond, Vermont
January 11, 2005

     I entered UVM as a student over five years ago. From my experience, it would seem difficult for any student to not know of Will Miller's presence on campus. Whether as a loud voice for justice and equality or as the UVM administration and trustees's worst nightmare, he is at the very least known to all students as the professor with the gall to post (the legally-obligated public information of) professor salaries on his web site.

     During this time, I had been drawn to Will by his outspoken criticisms of US-Nato-UN military inteventionism (at that time Yugoslovia and Iraq), his vocal support for gay marriage in Vermont and his participation in the growing economic and environmental global justice movements.

     In doing organizing work with Will (largely through SPARC, a student political action group at UVM), I became truly amazed by his humility, conviction and thinking.

     There is no egalitarian an occurence for a young student than interacting with a veteran faculty member like Will. I've spent countless hours with Will and other students discussing a variety of social and campus issues in what was often a late and already extended evening meeting. Talking to Will is a foreign experience for students whose professors are typically impersonal, impatient, pompous and inaccessible. Will is kind, patient, generous and open-minded to all our young naive minds. He gave us support and the room to grow and experiment in our political organizing. The dense and engaging conversations and debates between students and Will would continue for long hours even when he surely had other pressing tasks to get to (a Vets for Peace meeting, a dinner date with Ann, plowing the driveway, feeding the sheep, fighting for justice or just getting some sleep). Will's youthfulness and energy is supernatural. Whether it's the attendance of countless meetings, political raliies or stacking wood, it is easy to forget or be convinced otherwise that Will isn't just like me and in his twenties.

     For students like myself, Will is an invaluable member of UVM. That Will is salaried so low only strengthened the argument he was the best teacher. UVM pay figures on his web site taught students the handy principle that annual salary is always negatively correlated with teaching competence. Will is an anti-war veteran, a radical philosopher and an engaging teacher. I didn't categorically study philosophy nor had Will as a classroom teacher while enrolled as a student (but heard many a raving review from my peers who had), but am forever thankful to have sat-in on his Philosophy of Marxism course a year ago.

     Will's teaching can't fit in a classroom. It overflows into teach-ins, organizations, unions, rallies, to his Westford homestead. Regardless of what happened to academic American philosophy, Will finds a way for his students to find him.

     I've experienced many students who would meet Will for the first time in a course, at a meeting, teach-in or demonstration and be clearly overwhelmed of having met such a beautiful person. They would stare in awe in hearing the things they always wanted to hear a teacher say, but somehow only Will was saying. As students (myself included), we can probably never understand what an accomplished person we were so priveleged to speak so frankly with.

     In political organizing, Will's thinking is grounded in his own life experience and also in history (whether historical materialism, or the common sense approach of refusing to repeat the same mistakes). His vision for political organizing extends back--rightly so--to the historical heritage of previous political struggles, which in some more recent cases link up with his own life.

     A symbolic example of Will's intellect and awareness occurred not too long after September 11th. SPARC and other local organizations were involved in bringing to Burlington a speaker critical of U.S. foreign (and domestic) policy and an American Indian with stringent knowledge of U.S. acts of genocide here and abraod (a vital and appropriate historical perspective) who had been invited well before September 11th for an irrelated talk.

     In what was the "formula" for the time, selected quotes concerning September 11th were attributed to the visiting speaker. These quotes were used by UVM administration, UVM's chapter of young Republicans, and Burlington's daily newspaper against the speaker and SPARC. In what is a characteristic (and fitting) response by Will, he didn't back down from the challenge from authority. While some allies were distancing themselves and when Will could have been simply angered by the attack---and he was, he did his damndest to transform it into a positive moment for organizing and teaching about U.S.-sponsored terrorism and political repression in higher education. It was because of who Will is that can only explain his response. His historical mind and his own personal experiences at UVM, I discovered how invaluable someone with Will's experience and skills are to the movement.

     Unlike those philosophers that just "interpreted the world", Will is works to change it, and shows us all how. At UVM, he has been a part of shaping and documenting the tradition of struggle for justice of students, of workers' rights, and for intellectual freedom. He helped organize a faculty union, and he has a line of students stretching over 30 years that he's inspired. He's worked to keep all the issues of justice where they belong; on the table for debate and in the classroom for learning. If someone has a problem with their supervisor, or their major, people know to contact Will. There's hardly any contemporary issue worldly or local that you haven't had your hands on. I can tell or ask you anything and you always have some experience to graciously give.

     Besides all I've learned, Will, your direction and revolutionary piety will always be a reminder to me of my faith in social change and restistance. I'm also thankful I found such love and friendship in both you and Ann in the last few years. The fun we have is endless and I've learned so much more about life from you both. I hope I've been able to give just a fraction of the thanks and love in return for what you both have given to myself and all your students over the years.

     Never stop fighting.

Jean Archibald
Underhill, Vermont
January 11, 2005

     Will, I have been enriched by knowing you. In recent years I have become more of an activist than I ever was (still a bit shy at times), and in the background, there you are...courageous, articulate, insightful, and always with a small smile at the corner of your mouth.

love from Jean

Greg Moses
Austin, Texas
January 11, 2005

     Once upon a time at a workshop, Will told a story about his students going to jail. So that's how I think about Will. What a teacher!

Jerry Fishbein
Dartmouth, Massachusetts
January 11, 2005

     What an appropriate picture to headline this web page...At the head of a rally or speak out (against the war in this case, but just as surely it could be supporting workers, or against the Klan, or against apartheid, or supporting environmental justice or women's rights); bundled against the cold; with a microphone- not simply holding the mike - but passing it on. Passing on the mike as well as the vision and the love that we need so desparately to confront our world. Will, it's what you do and what you have done for me and for generations of justice seekers.

     It's what you did gently when I sat at your dinner table some 25 years ago and asked about the trout in the stream at the end of your driveway..."have you ever caught them?"...a knowing look to Ann, "Well, we feed them on occasion"...or when you refused to step in while I bumbled nervously during a public radio show about the death squads in El Salvador in the early 80s, ensuring that I struggled with it, got it, and gained from it (this inspite of the fact that you clearly had the information in the front of your mind and on the tip of your tounge) organizing not only the audience but the organizer.

     It's what you did, in numerous discussions about tactics and strategies - for building houses and coalitions, fencing in vegetables, raising sheep, making fondue or chili or combating capitalism.

     Will, I suppose its a bit of a cop out to say that there is so much to write about when I think of your impact and influence, but I find myself able to say little more. I look around my office today at the pictures of picket lines and posters and feel your the pictures of Eli and Ari that you see here and realize your influence.

     Thank you, Will, for your lectures and seminars, guidence and wisdom, your hands your back and your heart, your uncompromising and continuing struggle, and for your dear friendship.

Much love, Jerry

Maria Germano
Jericho, Vermont
January 11, 2005

Hi Will,

     I wanted to tell you that I think of you as I sit in my home and warm myself next to the woodstove. I think of you maybe not as others do, with your political activism, but as a teacher of patience and how to open up the mind to others thoughts and motivations.

     I put in another log and I think of the times we spent handsignaling to eachother as the chainsaws roared around us and during the quiet times they were shut off the discussions of history and how we can change it only if we try. I think of the time I "dragged" you out to the Jazz festival and we couldn't walk but two feet and someone would stop you and start a conversation.. so we hid in a doorway (I think it was the Peace and Justice doorway)and listened to the music.

     I hope that you continue to listen to the music of life and look around you at the vista before you and smile at the simple things. For not the simple sunlight or shadow that plays across Rosa's face as she lies in the sun, we would not understand the complexity of life.

Thinking of you Will

Linda Marabell
Jericho, Vermont
January 10, 2005


     Haven't known you long but am kept up to date on your battle and am praying for you.

     I've not been to any of your rallies but want you to know I have a little rebel in me, too. I'll have to tell you sometime about my episode in Washington, D.C. during the Watergate scandal when my then U.S. Rep. from Michigan kicked me out of the Capitol. And that's just the tip of the ice burg (or is it berg?). If that tease doesn't give you the incentive to get well, I don't know what will.

     I also had the distinct honor of having Daniel Ellsburg ride to the airport in Lansing, Michigan in my old yellow VW. He had been there speaking at Michigan State University.

     So there!

All my best.

Mike Crowley
Cambridge, Massachusetts
January 10, 2005

     I graduated from UVM in 1998. Whenever people ask me about my experience there my first thoughts are of Will Miller. Will gave me an essential understanding of the root causes of social inequities, and provided a much need grounded to my Environmental Studies education. Just like Plato's Allegory of the Cave, Will helped me divert my gaze from the shadows of power and showed me a glimpse of the truth.

     Will and I rode in the cop car together after getting arrested at Bernie Sanders' office. It was an amazing experience to share with one of my greatest heros, and a real lesson as a young scholar-activist!

     Will, I can't thank you enough for giving me a real eduction!

-Mike Crowley

Toby Fulwiler
Fairfield, Vermont
January 10, 2005

     hey, will, i just want you to know my favorite image of you, goes back a few years, to the first of several writing workshops you participatd in. in this one, when we randomly paired people up to discuss their formative writing experiences--s sorta sharing-bonding experience--and you ended up with then president tom salmon. i couldn't help watching you two especially closely, but i could not hear what you said, though severl times i saw laughter. to this day i wonder what you two talked about?

     i'm retired now three years from our former institution and not regretting one moment of it, both for my own freedom and for being removed from questionable day-to-day politics. hope you know you made a difference in a lot of lives, students and faculty alike. take good care.

best. toby fulwiler

Lynne Bond
Charlotte, Vermont
January 9, 2005

     Will, since I arrived on at the UVM campus in 1976, your voice has been ever present, powerful, and essential. More important, your ability and passion to encourage the voices of others—students, staff, faculty, community members, and people from around the world—has literally changed each of our own worlds in one way or another. Will, I have such appreciation and admiration for the stories that you have assured we heard in the past, hear in the present, and, most importantly, will continue to hear in the future. The struggle is ongoing and your energy is ever present.

Agape to you and Ann

Karen Dawson
Burlington, Vermont
January 8, 2005

Hey Will,

     It is a great gift to be given the chance to say to you things that you will have heard a million times before, but here goes:

     I was surprised at the intensity of my reaction when I heard in mid-December that you had taken a turn for the worse. You have done such good work and you have much left to do. I am so very happy that you are back on the road to recovery. You have been and always will be an important person in my life.

     When the student is ready, the teacher appears. I think I must have met you through mutual friends. I took your class "The Philosophical Foundations of Education." You probably had me pegged right off as the stubborn, a-political holdout who suddenly has had the ground pulled out from under her. You were central to my transformation.

     During that class, I really began the ramping up process of trying to get a grip on a vastly different reality than the sort of provincial la la land of my youth. I felt not one speck of being judged by you for my embarrassing lack of attention to the world, just patience; infinite patience. We begin where we are, right?

     I was struck by your classroom egalitarianism; you insisted on first names all around, we sat in a circle-- no elevated podium for you!-- and together worked out how our course material might play out.

     So many times in the recent past, when I was getting on the bus to go to DC or NY for demonstrations, there you were; "to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comforted."

     I always admire your encyclopedic ability to deploy the rapid-fire statistics; hey, even if some of them were made up on the spot, they worked, right? After all, 38.6% of all statistics are made up on the spot to fill a gap…

     But you are a good listener too. Running into you around town or on campus is often uncannily timely, leading to information exchanges that are just the boost that I need. I'm looking forward to the next time!

Peace and Love,

Jon Flanders
Troy, New York
January 8, 2005

     I had the opportunity to work with Will during my sojourn in Vermont in the late seventies, early 80's.

     It was the time that the current world crisis in the Middle East first appeared on the horizon, with the war in Afghanistan and the Iranian Revolution.

     Whether is was organizing anti-war protests, meetings, teach-ins or socialist election campaigns, Will would be there. You could count on it.

     One of the greatest things you can say about someone involved in the struggle is that you can rely on them to be at their place on the barricades.

     That is Will Miller.

Ellen David Friedman
Montpelier, Vermont
January 8, 2005

     Comrade... I think you set the standard for us all on the left. Through your commitment to principle, your tenacity, and your sheer unconditional faith in the power of working people... you have helped raise up generations of effective organizers. I count myself lucky to be one of them.

     I think primarily of how hard we struggled together in the second UVM faculty organizing campaign during the late 1980's. Of course, sometimes we struggled with eachother too (which, I think, may just be inevitable with a person of such unshakable conviction; no one else keeps the faith the way you do).

     The ultimate victory at UVM is due so much to your long commitment... though I'm sure you will, properly, insist that a union victory by definition is collective.

     Your inspiration is present every day. We keep fighting in your name.


Helen Scott
Burlington, Vermont
January 8, 2005

     I feel like I've known Will longer than the five years I've been teaching at the University of Vermont. This is partly because in the period before I moved to Burlington I kept coming across references to him--in stories about anti-war and global justice activism--that made me very eager to introduce myself. I remember saying to my partner, Ashley, "Who IS this Will Miller? He's everywhere!"

     And sure enough, I met him soon after I arrived on campus, at an early meeting of the last (and victorious!) faculty Union drive at the University. He spoke with such passion and experience--I knew at once this must be the same person I'd been reading about and admiring from afar. At subsequent union meetings I'd find myself waiting for Will's contribution and agreeing with him when it came. As time went on I learned a lot about his important role in earlier drives that paved the way for this one--and I was grateful that Will had remained such a fighter. I also heard about the famous marxism class from many enthusiastic students. And one semester I knew we were teaching in the same classroom when I found a handout listing all the invasions and occupations of US imperialism in the twentieth century. Now this is should be part of every American student's education!

     After the bombing of Afghanistan started Will and I spoke together on a panel against the war. It was so comforting to sit beside him, and draw strength from his unswerving commitment to peace and justice, in that terrible climate of warmongering.

     So, Will, over the years I've become so used to your presence at all the protests, and important events and meetings, that I've really felt your absence in these last months. I'm so glad to get this chance to tell you publicly how much I admire and respect you--and miss you!

with love and solidarity to you and Ann.
from Helen

S'ra DeSantis
Burlington, Vermont
January 8, 2005

     You and Ann have been in my thoughts and heart. Both of you have been so courageous and have had to endure so much, yet you both continue to be optimistic and an absolute joy to be with.

     I could never keep count the number of demonstrations, which I have seen you and Ann at, over the last decade since I moved to Vermont. One of the first things I remember from Vermont protests was the Veteran's for Peace banner, which you would always be standing under. Your commitment to justice in all forms, has been an inspiration to me. I have seen you at events and demonstrations concerning political prisoners, anti-war (several different wars unfortunately), independent media, women's rights, queer rights, worker's rights, racial equality, the list could go on forever.

     You have served as a teacher and role model to so many, as an educator and an organizer. Through SPARC you helped to politicize so many young minds, who are now helping to shape the type of world that they want to live in. Many of these people, including myself and many of my friends, mention your name often with the highest level of respect as a person who has influenced their political awakening.

     Your less public life at your home also amazes me. The sheep, the garden, the carpentry work on your house, the woodstove… You are not only committed to struggling but you and Ann have also created a beautiful life at your home.

     Thank you for fighting and creating alternatives all these years. And I hope there will be many more.

Lots of love
S'ra DeSantis

Stuart Aque
Shoreline, WA & Point Pleasant, NJ
January 8, 2005

     If it wasn't for Will Miller...

     In the fall of 1969 I was a sophomore at the University of Vermont and virtually lost. My instincts told me that I could find my way, but that it would require proper guidance. On the recommendation of some friends, I had signed up for "Introduction to Philosophy." The teacher was Willard Miller.

     I had no familiarity and probably even less understanding of the material that we read and I'm sure that I missed the point of the assigned writings more than I "got it." However, Prof. Miller's patience, understanding, and gift for explaining and communicating what was important (to even the most hopeless case) caused me to begin to think critically in a focused and disciplined manner, and perhaps more importantly, begin to understand what critical thinking was all about. I'll never forget that class, with Will at the front of the room, wearing his leather vest and with his ever present thermos of coffee, and challenging his students to think.

     I went on to major in Philosophy at UVM, and I was anything but a good student in the standard sense. After Will's class and after being touched by his explanation that at its core, philosophy was the love of truth and knowledge, I was now at UVM to learn—and papers, exams, and grades were secondary at best.

     In my senior year, I became interested in and studied Chinese philosophy and intellectual history with Prof. Gerald W. Swanson. I didn't know it at the time, but Will and Jerry had known each other in the army and had both attended the University of Illinois. With Jerry's help and guidance, I went on to study the Chinese language and to eventually earn my Ph.D. from the University of Washington.

     Of course, many of the postings emphasize Will's social and political focus and activism, and rightly so. But I would like to suggest that this focus is a manifestation and expression of what is fundamental and basic to Willard Miller's being: His Humanity. It all comes back to the root of his soul.

     Will's understanding of his role as a teacher allows him to connect with his students in a way that transcends the specifics of the material and impart to them—either consciously or otherwise—lessons that cannot be learned solely from the texts themselves. As a whole person, Will teaches to the whole person.

     I recently visited Jerry Swanson and Martha Powers Swanson in Montana. Marty and I talked about our days at UVM, as Will's students, and how knowing Willard and having him as our teacher effected a profound change in both of our lives. We were kids from the suburbs, going to UVM, and in the process of growing up. Will saw and understood this, and instead of being an overbearing academician, taught us things that in the long run made us better people.

     I hope that those of us who have had the honor and privilege of knowing Will would take all that we have learned from him and make it a part of ourselves and our lives. Let the circle be unbroken.

     If it wasn't for Will Miller...

Reuben Bard-Rosenberg
Cambridge, England
January 8, 2005

     I am a fairly young relative of Will from London, England. At the age of eleven my family took a trip to America and Canada where we saw some members of the family and were lucky enough to stay in Will and Ann's wonderful house in the mountains of Vermont.

     At the time i had just started reading a biography of Che Guevara. I felt so lucky to have met Will. Throughout our stay we had countless conversations about politics and the world. I remember him being so engaging to talk to and so knowledgeble, yet he never talked down to me or patronised me. In spite of my age, in spite of the fact that he knew so much more than me, he always seemed to take everything i said seriously. I remember leaving feeling that i had learnt a hell of a lot.

     Afterwards our correspondence continued via email. I used his site and proudly showed it to others (my conservative history teacher was less than impressed!).

     I would like to send Ann and Will my love and solidarity at what must be an extremely difficult time. Keep on fighting companeros!

Lindsey Ketchel
Starksboro, Vermont
January 8, 2005

     I first met Will through his amazing partner Ann. We were both serving on the Outright Board and Ann held a board retreat at their delightful homestead. I remember feeling a great sense of Home, Peace and Love.

     This was the beginning of an amazing friendship that I cherish deeply. I will never forget your amazing kindness and support while I was going through a difficult time in my life. I was fortunite to have the opportunity to spend a siginificant amount of time with both Ann and Will. I remember deep conversations, movies, unconditional love, good smoke and just hanging out.

     What I love the most about you Will is that your REAL. Spending time with you gave me the encouragement to be more REAL in my own life. It's easy to dance on the surface of life, it takes real integrity and conviction to march on the earth to our personal drum.

     While our lives have drifted over the last couple of years, my spirit and thoughts of both of you are close to my heart and soul.

     I look forward to seeing you soon. I'm so glad to hear your recovery is back on track and that your home.

     Will thanks for touching my life!

     Love Lindsey

Jack V. Lesnik
Barnet, Vermont
January 8, 2005

Will, friend, comrade:

Come back to us soon. We need your courage, your passion for truth and reason in the struggle for a just and humane world. I look forward to a comradely embrace.

Avanti popolo!
Jack Lesnik

Greg Guma
Winooski, Vermont
January 8, 2005

     So much to remember -- projects, teach ins, mobilizations -- more than any of us can recall after all these years.

     Personally, I remember meeting and working with you first through PACT (People Acting For Change Together) and other local formations in the 1970s. Acting locally, but always looking far beyond.

     And your tireless efforts to counsel, teach, and put life inside the empire into a broader context. CISPES, the Haymarket and Green Mountain funds, Vermont Solidarity -- not to mention some tough but helpful criticism when I would sometimes stray.

     You brought a whole generation into political consciousness, an heroic undertaking that has had profound effects on Vermont and the world.

     Publications have come and gone, and struggles within the peace and anti-intervention movements. But I cherish most those too rare moments when we could step back from the struggle and just talk.

     Thanks for being Vermont's activist philosopher!

Manuel O'Neill
Woodbury, Vermont
January 7, 2005

     Will, you and Ann have been in my thoughts since I learned of your illness. Forgive me for the delay in visiting or writing, but I didn't want to invade your privacy. But, that is no excuse for not sharing with you-- what you have meant to me, even when it was from a distance.

     Can't quite remember when I first met you, but suffices to say that your reputation preceded you. You were, at first, the UVM professor living in the backwoods of Vermont who was not afraid to speak his mind, put words into action, or place himself "on the line"--be it before the university trustees, on the picket line or barricade, or being arrested when circumstances required.

     Upon meeting you, you quickly became the companero who traveled the distances whenever invited to speak to a classroom of students, an assembly of activists, or a roomful of inquisitive minds wanting to learn, understand, and know more about the events and forces that were impacting their lives.

     Listening to you speak I often marveled at how like a computer you stored and retrieved facts, dates, and events on varied subjects within the time that it took you to take your next breath. But, more important was the task to which you put the information to work. The latter produced a reasoned analysis that offered an insight into the origins and workings of power, a call to struggle, and a vision of a more just society. A society where all work is valued; where truth is not silenced, but nurtured; a society that fosters service and solidarity; where all are treated as equals; that is at peace with itself; and where neither people or resources are exploited.

     Will, you have always modeled the tireless and unselfish companero who gives of himself, and who blazes the path that others will later follow. Few men can lay claim to having achieved what you have, and contributed so much to friends, community, and country.

     Things--as some say-- sometimes get worse before they can get better. Heaven knows that these are some of the strangest and trying times that we've lived through, and that you and your leadership are needed more than ever. And, while you should rest in order to maintain your strength-- rest assured, Will, that the peace and justice movement that you helped build and nurture in Vermont will carry on until the final victory. A victory that already has your name imprinted upon it.

     Thank you for making a difference in my life, for reminding me of my obligation to keep on fighting, and for being someont that we can all look up to. Stay strong.

With much love and admiration,

Elaine McCrate
Underhill, Vermont
January 7, 2005

     I think I met Will in my first semester at UVM, which would have been fall of 1985 (if anyone's counting!). My early memories include watching "Kennedy", the Oliver Stone film, at his and Ann's house, which was followed by what I came to see as the usual spirited political commentary. My other recollections include: raising the barn walls, witnessing the collection of lots of cordwood over the years, pleasant smoky afternoons in the crow's nest, and endless organizing -- for unions, against wars (unfortunately there have been more wars to protest than unions to support), on and on. As several other writers on this website have noted, Will's work on the faculty union -- over many years -- literally made our organizing possible.

     Will is one of the most tenacious persons I know. It's part of how he has survived his own tribulations (like the famous tenure battle) and helped us survive and fight through our collective tragedies (like Bush). I'm glad he's on our side instead of with the bad guys. Will also has about the most rigorous progressive political sensibility of anyone I know -- but it's a standard that he gladly holds himself to as well as everyone else.

     Hang in there, Will -- we're all rooting for you!

Joelen Mulvaney
Barre, Vermont
January 7, 2005

     Will understands people. He connects with us on a personal and political level at the same time, seamlessly, without fuss. Always supportive, a strong advocate of people's education and a loving brother in the struggle for justice and peace.

     Will inspires me to hold the memory of VietNam War victims and their families in my heart whenever I protest war. I carry the honor flag from my husbands casket during military celebrations and anti-war protests. I would not have the courage to do so if I hadn't had a conversation with Will about how to honor the sacrifice of soldiers.

     Whenever I have called Will with questions or concerns I always got the same, caring, considerate and helpful response. I have always been able to count on him to follow through and whatever he has offered he has always delivered.

Steve Dresner
New Harbor, Maine
January 6, 2005

It has been and continues to be my great pleasure to have known Will for nearly 45 years--with love, admiration, and respect.

Kathleen Brown
Burlington, Vermont
January 7, 2005

Hi Will!

     Greetings from UVM- where we are working hard to keep student activism growing. In the picture where you are adressing a crowd at Bailey Howe- there I am too! (Holding the No War on Iraq placard.) That would place it in either winter 2001 or 2002.

     Although I only met you recently (2001), your spirit has always encouraged me. So many things have changed since 2001. Those were dark times, during the war in Afghanistan. Liberals where gung-ho for the war, and the Republicans were on a rampage to kick the International Socialist Organization and Students for Peace and Global Justice off of campus. I remember I got to school only to think "whoa- what have I got myself into!"

     Who would have thought that only a year or so later, one of the biggest antiwar movements ever burst upon the scene. The dynamism of struggle is always suprising.

     It is easy to fight when struggle picks up, but it is all the more important to keep the torch burning when it declines. Thank you, Will for being part of fighting for a better world through it all.

Thanks to you and Ann,
In Solidarity,
Kathleen Brown

PS- I also appreciate the fact that you videotaped many, many events for posterity. And that you and Ann set up a video greeting for Harry Magdoff at his birthday party. And that Will's Marxism class is ALWAYS full. (Even if I haven't taken it yet). Here's to building an anti-imperialist left so sorely needed in the world!

Barbara Mercure
January 7, 2005

Hi Will and Ann:

I have worked at the University for over 27 years and have known and loved Will for the bulk of that time. For many years, I have been employed in the Facilities Office first doing classroom scheduling and now in the new Conference and Events Office doing Special Events. It was during the days I was involved with classroom scheduling that I had the honor of meeting you Will. You are a very special, personable and loving person. I really enjoyed our chats especially on politics. You really gave my superb insight into the world in general. I always came away feeling so good and so much more knowledgable. You always made me feel special. I had the pleasure of seeing you at the Peter Singer lecture at the Chapel and meeting you Ann. It gave me such comfort seeing both of you again. Will, you are in my daily prayers and I only wish you well.

Love Barb

Patrick Standen
Burlington, Vermont
January 7, 2005

     Sure, there are the politics...While most students at UVM remember Will's tireless enthusiasm and passion for social justice from the times he spoke at Royall Tyler, Waterman, Billings, about Apartheid, Big Mountain, Central America, ERA, etc. My memories are of a different sort. I want to honor the philosophy Professor. The teacher that Will was and is. Will brought his energy and passion to his philosophy classrooms too. I studied Marxism and American Philosophy under Will's kind tutelage and he introduced me to the works of C.S. Peirce and John Dewey among others. Most memorable was his energetic presence, but to a young philosophy student, I was taken by his articulateness and razor sharp acumen. He has the ability to get to the crux of an issue easily and efficiently. A sort of one-man-Ockham's razor!

     In large measure, my choice to become a philosophy Professor--I teach at Saint Michael's College-wais due to Will. Practically, he gave me the confidence to do what I wanted to do, the knowledge base to build upon and functioned as an inspiring role-model to emulate. Thoretically, he demonstrated that ideas need to be put into practice.

     Plato has Diotima--the wise women from Manitea--say in his Symposium that some people give birth to children and others give birth to ideas. Will, your legacy is the thousands of students, political activists, and citizens whose lives you changed with your teaching and love for the world.

     Be at peace, heal fast and thank you for all that you have done for me and the world.

Your student,
Patrick Standen

Eli Fishbein
Dartmouth, Massachusetts
January 6, 2005

Dear Will,

Hi how are you feeling? Its good to hear that your back at the farm. I bet the sheep are glad to see you. I just wanted to say get well soon and that im glad that your home.

From Eli Fishbein

Louis Proyect
New York City
January 6, 2005

My thoughts are with you.

Many years ago, I decided not to continue with my graduate philosophy studies and to concentrate on building the socialist and antiwar movement instead.

If I had ever changed my mind and continued with philosophy, the only way that I could have ever felt even slightly fulfilled is if I had emulated you.

You are a shining inspiration to both your profession and to the movement to change the world.

Louis P.

Steve Finner
Barre, Vermont
January 6, 2005

     I probably have known the least of most folks here as I met him when I lived in Washington DC working for the AAUP and was commuting for the UVM faculty union organizing drive of which he was such an integral part. Most Vermonters don't know that if it had not been for Will, UVM faculty and staff would not have the right to collectively organize and bargain. Will spearheaded the legislation which makes it possible, and I hope this important accomplishment does not past unnoticed into ancient history.

     It has been a genuine pleasure and inspiration to meet and work with an unreconstructed radical whose passion for those in need has not diminished with age, but in fact, has grown stronger.

Charley MacMartin
Burlington, Vermont
January 6, 2005

Thanks to Ann and others for thinking of this website! What a great idea! Some images to start:

  • Will asking students in his introductory philosphy course to help set the curriculum for the class.
  • Will introducing Noam Chomsky when he spoke in 1985 about Reagan and Central America.
  • Stacking wood at Will and Ann's home.
  • Will getting charged with a felony during the 1988 Waterman takeover when he committed the 'crime' of confronting police about their treatment of students during the arrests.
  • Will helping an activist heading to El Salvador learn how to fire a gun (in self defense).
  • Will passionately arguing at a Haymarket meeting about how justice and equality should not only be in a movement's goals but in how that movement operates.
  • Will chatting with a hospital worker about politics.

     These are just a few of the images of Will in my life over the past twenty years.

     There is so much to say about Will's influence and impact, and the others on this site have painted such an eloquent picture of the person we love and care about. I will add two words to the collage: passion and doubt.

     Passion keeps coming to mind this morning when I think about the commitments, the actions, the meetings, and the life choices that have come to shape my friendship with Will. Will is a passionate person, and his passion has always provoked the best of questions: Where does passion fit into our work? How do we keep our passion for a better world alive? How do we care for ourselves--and each other--when it takes all the passion we have to get out of bed in the morning, let alone stop imperalism in its tracks?

     And Will's passion responds to another word, another idea: doubt. It's right there on his license plate. Will's courses, his lectures, our conversations have always cast doubt on all the assumptions I can muster. And not just any doubt, not the doubt that opens the door for irony and cynicism--those comfortable clothes of apathy. But doubt in the sense that Brecht used it: doubt that moves us to action. Doubt that allows us to find the passion necessary to weather what life throws at us: whether that be the machinery of injustice on the large scale or loss and personal pain closer to home.

     Will, your passion and your doubt are alive and well. In your work, your home, and your conversations with those around you. Your passion and doubt thrive as well in those of us close by and far away who love you.

With peace and love,

David Peroff
Portland, Oregon
January 6, 2005

     Where could I possibly begin to describe my respect and interest in will miller? I took Will's marxism class in 1993 as a sophomore at UVM. It seemed like an interesting thing to do and I was told it was a powerful albeit off beat class. I immediately took a liking to will because he came off differently than any other teacher I had encountered anywhere. Aside from teaching the course material, will taught about life. He spoke about his own life and he spoke about the inherrent inequities that existed all around us. He was fair. He was honest. He was sincere. The marxism class forever changed my own conception of the way the world worked and it provoked me to engage in further study both within UVM and in my own life so I too could become a teacher to others who were confused or intrigued by the obvious inequities of the world. I took 2 more classes with Will and during that time we worked to re-launch The Gadfly newspaper, which at the time was defunct, but seemed to offer the only opportunity to get a message out to the campus other than the corporate jockocracy BS that was contained in the Cynic.

     Along with with my chosen partner in crime (Eric Reiss- another student of Will's), we put together an issue of The Gadfly in one weekend and had it printed and distributed. I was so anxious to get Will's feedback and approval of our work. When I finally saw him I rememeber he came up to me before class and looked me dead in the eye and "that's a damm good issue!" I was so excited that he understood our direction with that issue because a number of other students did not seem to think it was done with enough professionalism or planning. I spent many hours talking with Will one on one during his office hours about my own personal issues regarding the best way to go about life and he always took me seriously and he always had sharp thought provoking responses to my ideas and questions. I explained to him about my artistic nature and impulses and that I thought my best route was to pursue an artistic track to push my way through the system in hopes I could teach and provide insight beyond books and lectures and arguments. We talked about John Lennon and the Grateful Dead, and the sixties, and counterculture, and drugs, and the underground. Will told me countless stories of his firsthand experiences in Berkeley and Madison and at concerts and protests. I sat wide-eyed appreciating every second of time he spent with me because I had no one else who would do that. I looked up to Will more than any other professor I ever had and probably as much as any person I had ever met up to that point. Will spoke the truth and he wasn't afraid to be controversial and animated. He cared about what he was doing and he enjoyed spending time with his students. I remember at the conclusion of one spring semester will invited a handful of students out to his house in Underhill for a meal and final party of sorts.

      Seeing the home that will built also changed my view of him forever. His home was simply magnificant and he had animals and rolling hills and views of the mountains and a crows nest atop the house. We all squeezed into the crows nest and I asked him if he would like to smoke pot with all of us and he agreed. The scene that took place seemed like it was right out of the sixties - passing the pipe and talking politics and what could be done to stop people from ruining the planet. I remember at one point Will was holding the pipe while he was talking and he paused and then looked up and said he lost his train of thought and we all laughed. He looked at me and said with a twinkle in his eye, "now that's some good stuff." And it was! We had such a great time that day and I will never ever forget Will Miller and the massive amounts of kindness he shared with everyone he came in contact with. I plan to come to Vermont in May and I just hope I can see Will again to tell him all this in person. Best wishes Will Miller - YOU ARE A TRUE AMERICAN PATRIOT AND TREASURE!

Shirley M Barnes
Santa Fe, New Mexico
January 6, 2005

Will, we all need wisdom and dedication that you personify in our struggle to keep this society from further deteriorating. Professor Benjamin Keen would have been very proud of your struggle and your inner strength.

Matt Hannah
Marshfield, Vermont
January 5, 2005

     I only had the good fortune to meet Will relatively recently (1998, I think). Distance and hectic schedules have kept the privilege of being with him and Ann a rare one.

     Nevertheless, Will has impacted my life to an extent that he probably doesn't realize. His example of personal political integrity and generosity stays with me as an inspiring, sometimes uncomfortable reminder of the standards to which I too often fail to hold myself. He continues to prove that it is possible not only to hold such standards in principle but also to live by them. I am sure that for many hundreds, if not thousands of people, simply living the way he does continues to be one of Will's most important public services.

     Will's professional career at UVM has also meant a lot to me by demonstrating that working in an institution fundamentally compromised by capitalist social relations does not require the people who work there to compromise themselves to the same degree. Indeed, he has shown by example that it is always worth working to rid mainstream institutions of class oppression, racism, sexism and injustice of all sorts, regardless of how modest or distant the prospects of success.

     One vignette about Will is worth relating. Not long after getting to know Will and Ann, my partner and I found ourselves in need of a car. The moment Will got wind of this, he offered us his old (but still functional) Toyota wagon, on the sole condition that we give it to Good News Garage when we were ready to retire it. This act of spontaneous generosity, with the proviso that we ourselves act generously later, was quintessentially Will.

     So was the unique collection of bumper stickers affixed to the back of the car. As a result of Will's generosity, we were mobile, but we were now also enlisted in his ongoing project of persuading the world to be a better place. I don't recall all of the bumper stickers, but I think we were reminding our fellow drivers that it was actually the working class who had "brought you the weekend"... we may also have been demanding "US out of North America!" or at least "Stop US imperialism!" I admit that there were many places we took that car where we would have felt a good deal safer without the revolutionary rear view.

     Here, too, there was nothing to disagree with in Will's message. It was the courage to spread it and live it as resolutely as he does that proved to be the hard part.

Nancy Welch
Burlington, Vermont
January 5, 2005

Hey Will,

     I want to thank you for sitting down with me last year to go through the history of left activism at UVM, from the fight to dismantle the racist Kake Walk to the last Waterman takeover. And especially, thank you for letting me copy your folders of newspaper articles, flyers, Dis-orientation Manuals, photographs, political cartoons, videos etc. -- an incredible archive that I've been sharing with my students who are *stunned* to learn what students have been capable of achieving, what they too could organize and push for.

     UVM's history, your archive makes clear, is no different from any other: Every progressive change we've achieved has been fought for and won from below, including getting rid of Kake Walk, kicking CIA recruiters off campus, divesting from South Africa, getting an ethnic studies program, getting a union.

     And of course in the thick of this history and of the stories and photographs, there you are -- urging the faculty senate to join the students in calling for divestment from South Africa, getting dragged out of Waterman's Vice Alley by the police (first time UVM had students and faculty arrested, yes?). Good for you! And lucky for us to have you and everything, right up through our faculty union today, you've done for UVM.

My love and admiration to you and Ann,

Bert Thompson
Johnson, Vermont
January 3, 2005

     I first met Will just after I moved to Burlington in the early nineties after I got out of the Navy in 1988. Will's reputation preceded him, as it should have. Surprisingly, it was Garry Davis who introduced us and I think it was the best introduction into my life.

     Will is a very thoughtful pragmatic who has not only the knowledge but the wisdom to be able to discuss most any subject of politics and political thought. I don't know if Will realizes it, but he is such a mentor for me and I, personally, am at such a loss that he is not able to be out and about in his normal self. I take heart that especially in this struggle Will is showing such strength and fortitude.

     I can't say that without honoring his partner, Ann, in her strength and courage through all of this.

     If Will has taught us anything it has to be that pacifism doesn't mean you don't fight for right, in fact it IS the fight for righteousness.

Roz Payne
Richmond, Vermont
January 2, 2005

     1972 our commune Green Mountain Red brought Jamal Joseph (Eddie Joseph) the youngest of the Black Panther 21 on trial in NYC. (They were all found Not Guilty after 2 years of trials.) There was a rally on the green at UVM when he spoke.

     We had a connection in security at UVM who gave us a file of documents. In that file there was a photo of the crowd and demonstrators. When we looked at the photo there was a circle drawn around the head of Will miller (like he was a target). I remember Will being at almost every demonstration and event since those days.

Bob Rice
Westford, Vermont
January 2, 2005

WILL MILLER: Unifying Theory and Practice

     “At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love.” A poster version of this famous remark, made by Che Guevara in his 1965 Notes for the Study of Man and Socialism in Cuba, has hung on a wall in Will Miller's home for as long as I've known him. Che's remark epitomizes what I remember most of all about my old University of Vermont colleague and friend of nearly 35 years.

     Will's detractors—and, not surprisingly, he has had a few—sometimes caricature him as an ideologue. Such detractors, whose criticism Will often wears as a badge of honor, invariably fail to note that what drives Will's radical criticism (that is, his criticism which goes to the roots) of capitalist society is a profound concern for the well-being of ordinary human beings.

     Will has been exercised throughout his adult life by the need of all people to experience true justice, meaningful employment, and real peace. These have not been, for him, abstract or idealistic goals. Instead, he has seen them as concrete conditions for genuine social security and personal fulfillment. A faith in the possibility of actualizing such conditions in the lives of real flesh-and-blood individuals has illuminated Will's intellectual, political, and personal life. In short, he has been guided by a great feeling of love, of concern for others, for their sakes.

     Although I could extol him for his single-minded, wholehearted, and unwavering efforts in behalf of real peace based on true justice, I simply want to tell you a bit about my old friend and neighbor Will Miller. While I could praise his eloquence in all forms of discourse (in conversing with students, in addressing large groups, in writing political analyses), I merely want to share a few anecdotes that illustrate the extent to which Will has put Che's exhortation into practice.

     I want to speak to you about the friend and colleague I know: about his compassion, his generosity, his unfailing optimism, and his good humor.

     Will's compassion extends to others beyond our own species. I vividly remember animated discussions with Will in the temporary cabin on his Westford farmstead when we first caught wind of Peter Singer's Animal Liberation: A New Ethic for Our Treatment of Animals in 1975. Singer's eloquent and cogent arguments for treating all creatures who experience pain and pleasure as beings with interests of their own that ought not to be automatically discounted were exactly what Will and I had been looking for. We had both felt impelled toward vegetarianism for several years; and Singer's position, which explicitly draws analogies to arguments for the liberation of women and peoples of color, compelled our belief as soon as we fathomed it.

     Will was not, any more than I was, moved simply by the force of Singer's rational arguments. Rather, compassionate feelings he already possessed were crystallized and reinforced. One of my enduring images of Will was captured in a photograph taken during this early farmsteading period. In the photo, Will is looking tenderly at a small bird he is holding in one palm. The bird had, as I recall, temporarily stunned itself flying into one of the cabin's picture windows.

     Anyone who knows Will cannot suppose that he values animals more than humans. Such a supposition is an ad hominem, and in any case it applies in no way to Will. His commitment to human liberation is well known. To his great credit, though, he knows that we will never be totally free so long as we unnecessarily brutalize any other creatures.

     Will's generosity I have experienced personally for many years, beginning in 1970 when I came to UVM as an assistant professor of philosophy. Will had been hired the year before that, and he took under his wing a number of us newcomers, setting an example of collaborative, rather than competitive, scholarly dialogue and teaching efforts. Those early days of teaching with Will at UVM helped me establish pedagogical habits that have, I think, served me well ever since.

     After I, as one of the Philosophy Four, was fired in 1974, Will's generosity became even more evident to me. For a period while we were building our own homestead across the valley in Westford, my partner and I lived in Will's cabin. He had finished his house up the hill—or, rather, finished it enough to move into. Our lives were intertwined closely then, thanks in large measure to initiatives taken by Will. In fact, I feel a debt of gratitude to Will for his help in those years that I cannot adequately repay.

     Part of Will's generosity has been that he does not so much expect exact recompense for services as a willingness to pass along similar considerations to others. During the early days in Westford, I often witnessed Will's winching folks out of country-road ditches during the winter with his Landcruiser. He always declined payment, asking only that the beneficiaries extend like help when they could.

     Will's unfailing optimism is nowhere more evident than in his continuing commitment to reason and collaboration, despite what happened to him and to many of his colleagues and friends at UVM. We in the philosophy department had, of course, been reading our Marx, but when push came to shove, we all acted more like Platonists. We seemed to believe that all we had to do was put the right arguments into the right ears, forgetting that what makes the present world go 'round is power, not reason. We made a mistake the Vietnamese guerilla fighters seldom made. We got caught out in the open by tanks—or, rather, by pachyderms in the Arts College—and many of us (our careers, at least) got cut to pieces. Will has never forgotten that experience at UVM; he has survived as an assistant professor there all these years, but the institution clearly tried to marginalize him. Such a fate is not uncommon for radical social critics, but Will never allowed it to diminish his faith in reason or in the power of collaboration.

     Will's good humor and ceaseless energy have not waned since the old days either. I remember when I was helping Will build his house—I could say, when Will was teaching me how to build—always being amused at his assessments of how long various tasks were going to take, especially when I was getting tired. “Oh no, it'll just take us another hour or two to do that,” he'd say. Will's “hours” usually meant “days.” I remember, too, a hilarious exchange with Will one day when he had been contemplating painting one of the slogans from the Cultural Revolution on his metal roof. He finally conceded that “Eat Squash and Smash the Landlord Class!” probably wouldn't change too many minds along Machia Hill Road in Westford. At the time, I couldn't understand why Will wasn't just satisfied to have the metal roofing on, but his mind was constantly on the go, if only conjuring fanciful possibilities.

     Will is certainly intense, passionate, single-minded. He is above all authentic, in the sense that he strives always to practice what he advocates. His life is not without divergences of theory and practice. No one's is. But very few people strive as wholeheartedly as Will does to become the changes they wish to see in the world. Will knows as well as anyone that we're trying to move toward a wiser, more compassionate world without a lot of concrete models and in the teeth of powerful forces that do not want us to succeed. Will has been an exemplar, full of integrity, for many of us, for a long time; and I thank him from the bottom of my heart.

Venceremos, dear friend!

Ron Jacobs
Burlington, Vermont
December 30, 2004

     Will's name first entered my consciousness in the spring of 1992. I was living in Olympia, WA. then—working at the local public library and sharing a townhouse with my good friend and Evergreen College faculty member Peter Bohmer. I was feeling a need to move on and was seriously considering Burlington, VT as my next destination. Peter mentioned that if I made the move, I should look up a fellow he had met in Cuba the year before at some kind of conference. That fellow's name was Will Miller. I filed the name away in my mind.

     I did make the move and got my first job in the area at St. Michael's college. After two years there, I accepted a full time position at the Bailey Howe Library at the University of Vermont in November 1994. That following spring I sent Will an email introducing myself. We had lunch and hit it off quite well. That lunchtime conversation was one of the most informative lunches I have ever had, as Will filled me in on the immediate history of UVM, it's politics, the state of student activism, and his perspective on the Progressive movement in the greater politics of Vermont. It was nice to discover a Left beyond the electoralism of the Bernie Sanders phenomenon.

     As time went by, Will and I (along with various other UVM staff and faculty) initiated a union drive among the staff at UVM. Will's elephant-like memory and his ability to take the details stored there and turn them into an enjoyable and educational tale proved invaluable during this drive. Not only could he provide workers and union organizers alike with the details of a specific labor law, he also knew the story of its genesis, development, and eventual enactment. Much of this was due to the essential role Will had played in getting these laws on the books by testifying in Montpelier years before during an earlier faculty drive.

     Meanwhile, the world outside of UVM continued. War, racism, homophobia, and impoverishment. We all know the scenario. To respond to these phenomenon, we created an adhoc grouping we called the Instant Antiwar Action Group (IAAG). Thanks to the Green Mountain Fund administered by Will and a few others, we were able to receive a grant to help us defray printing and other associated costs. God knows we were going to need it. The primary imperial conflict at the time was the ongoing counter-insurgency effort in Colombia—a war that continues to this moment. By 1999, there was an even bigger war (at least in terms of US involvement) in Yugoslavia. Much of the so-called Left in Vermont and elsewhere in the western world supported this endeavor. Those of us who saw the world through an anti-imperialist lens, however, were never fooled by the humanitarian veil that the US and European governments attempted to cover their mass murder with. Once again, it was time to do something. That something ended up being a sit-in at war supporter Bernie Sanders' office. In one of the most embarrassing moments of Vermont's Progessive movement, Bernie's aide called in the cops to arrest a dozen antiwar protestors. A week later, Bernie furthered his embarrassment at a town meeting about the attack on Yugoslavia where he told Will and a few others that they should leave if they didn't like Bernie's support of the killing.

     One of the more laidback moments I spent with Will was on a bus going to DC in April 2002. I sat next to him during the overnight journey and we spent a good deal of time in conversation—political conversation of course. The remainder of the time I was awake I spent listening to Will converse with most every other passenger on the bus about some aspect of the so-called war on terror and the destruction of Palestine then going on. He did sleep during the trip, but it was his energy that inspired me to find my inner reserve as that day went on and the effects of the bus ride began to take their toll on my body. It is through Will that I met many of those people he spoke with on that ride. Thanks, Will.

     Indeed, it is his energy and devotion to a better world that continues to inspire me and a myriad of others as we continue our struggle against imperialism and its ills. In fact, the last time I rode a bus from Vermont to a protest, Will's inspiration provided the fuel for many of the riders.

     Postscript: When I moved into my current abode, it was Will who helped me make sense of the electrical jumble that unwound from the circuit box in the cellar. Thanks to him we have a dryer that works and I can do a lot of basic electrical work myself.