With a father from Homer and a mother from Marksville, Jake Miller has always had a deep connection to Louisiana, even though he is a native of Baltimore.

“All of our roots are in Louisiana,” he said. “I kiss the ground when I get off the plane.”

Miller’s parents, Fred and Charlene, met during their time at LSU, at a party Charlene’s father threw for Fred’s fellow teammates on the football team then-dubbed “The Chinese Bandits.” He fell in love at first sight with the southern belle.

Jake shared that his father, who went on to play for the Baltimore Colts, is a humble man of few words who taught him how to be a loving father and devoted husband. “I don’t know anyone with the character he has.”

The father of two “theatre nut” daughters, Jake created the Fred Miller Family Fund in the Department of Theatre. Having pledged to donate $1,000 annually over the next 10 years, Jake includes a giving link in his email signatures to encourage his family and friends to also give.

Established in 1928, LSU’s theatre department is one of few programs nationwide that is aligned with a professional theatre (i.e., Swine Palace), allowing its students to work alongside leading industry professionals. Jake, senior vice president of Entertainment Consulting International, said many people don’t know how robust or important the program is. “Without that type of art in our lives, it’s a pretty dull place,” he shared, adding that certain cultural elements are otherwise lost.

The Fred Miller Family Fund provides unrestricted support to the department to address the greatest needs at the time, which could include scholarships, equipment or a host of other opportunities.

Though he grew up in Maryland, LSU was as much a part of Jake’s childhood as of any bayou baby. “LSU is in my blood,” he said, adding that Fred would drive Jake and his three brothers hours into the mountains to pick up the AM radio signal for games. “It’s always been bigger than just a sport, bigger than just a football team,” he explained. “It’s been part of my family.”

“It’s not a lot,” he shared of his gift, “but it’s a way for me to say ‘thank you’ to the LSU community for what an incredible part of my life it’s been.”

Published in Cornerstone Summer and Fall 2015.

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