George P. Miller Jr.'s love of history and politics, knowledge of music, movies and books, and passion for news made him an ideal editor.
As wire editor for The World-Herald, he was responsible for preparing the morning paper's national and international report.
“George was a first-class newsman,” said Executive Editor Mike Reilly. “He pored over scores of stories every day to cull, curate, combine, highlight and organize information so readers could make sense of the world.”
Miller died Thursday at the Josie Harper Hospice House after a 16-month battle with esophageal cancer. He was 58.
“We'll miss his exceptional brain power, dedication to the profession and wry sense of humor,” Reilly said.
A Papillion native, Miller graduated from Papillion High School in 1973 and then earned a degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1978. Before arriving at The World-Herald in March 1986, he worked at newspapers in Columbus, Grand Island and Lincoln.
Miller liked to tell the story about why he became a copy editor. The tale goes like this: His first job out of college was reporting for the Columbus Telegram. After completing his interview with a winner in the swine competition at the county fair, he set down his notebook and picked up his camera to get a photo to complete the assignment. When he turned back to his notebook, one of the pigs had defecated on it. And Miller decided a career shift was in order.
He was hired as the wire editor at the Grand Island Independent and never gave reporting a backward glance.
Miller is part of a newspaper family with deep roots in Nebraska. His grandfather, father and two uncles ran the Papillion Times. The Miller family published the paper from 1903 to 1980, when it was sold to Suburban Newspapers Inc., the community newspaper division of the Omaha World-Herald Co.
George Miller Jr. worked at the Papillion newspaper office while in high school. He especially loved helping on election night, his family recalled.
Miller built a prized campaign button collection over the years. He started with buttons that were his maternal grandfather's, dating to the McKinley presidential campaign, and hunted down hundreds more. His collection numbers about 1,500 buttons, said his partner of more than 30 years, Brenda Moskovits of Omaha. She also is a World-Herald copy editor.
His two sisters recalled Miller as thoughtful and giving — and always finding some of the most imaginative gifts for them and his now-12-year-old nephew, Matt Zarybnicky.
His sisters are Betsy Miller of Tampa, Fla., and Meg Zarybnicky of the Elkhorn area. He was preceded in death by his mother, Rosemary, in 2004 and by his father, George Miller Sr., in 2012.
A private family burial was held Saturday. A memorial celebration is planned later.