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Larry and Brenda Miller

Larry & Brenda Miller

Alumni Couple Establishes Scholarship Endowment to Benefit Accounting and Finance Students

The WIU Foundation received a $31,500 gift from alumni Larry and Brenda Miller of Galesburg, Illinois to establish a scholarship to benefit accounting and finance students in the College of Business and Technology at Western Illinois University.

A native of Galesburg, Larry Miller graduated from Western Illinois University with a bachelor of business degree in finance in 1972.  Following graduation, Larry returned to Galesburg and entered into the insurance business with his father. Seven years after entering the profession, Larry not only established his own insurance agency, he purchased 13 other agencies in the Galesburg and Peoria areas which all operated under the umbrella of Larry L. Miller Insurance Agencies. With the purchase of the Dredge Insurance Agency in 1988, Larry’s insurance conglomerate was renamed Miller, Dredge Insurance Agency, Inc.

Brenda Seaman Miller attended high school in Decatur, Illinois and came to Western in the fall of 1970. She graduated in 1973 with a bachelor of business degree in accountancy. During their tenure at Western, Larry and Brenda met through a "blind date" arranged by friends that ultimately led to marriage nuptials one week after Brenda’s graduation. The couple settled in Galesburg, where Brenda began her career track and an accountant with Peat Marwick, the world's largest information technology consulting company. In 1977, Brenda accepted a position spanning nine years as a controller with Protexall, a uniform clothing manufacturer in Galesburg. From there, Brenda accepted a controller position with National Seal Company in Galesburg, Illinois, a manufacturer of high-density polyethylene geotextile liners for ponds, reservoirs and landfills. In 1988, Brenda joined Larry as the controller for Miller, Dredge Insurance Agency, Inc., where she served until Millers sold the insurance business to an employee in January 2005.

The Millers have established a scholarship to assist graduates of an Illinois high school or community college located south of Interstate 80, or a graduate of the Illinois Math and Science Academy. The scholarship will benefit a student with junior or senior standing pursuing a degree in either accounting or finance at Western. The first scholarship will be awarded this fall.

“We had a great college experience and always knew we wanted to give back to Western,” said the Millers.  “When we sold the business everything was in place for us to make a gift to benefit students in the programs from which we received our degrees at Western,” the Miller's added.

The Millers have three daughters. Their oldest daughter, Kate, teaches middle school theatre arts in Fayetteville, NC. Their middle daughter, Haley, is a senior at the University of Illinois majoring in computer science engineering. Keegan, the youngest, is a junior at the University of Illinois majoring in accounting.

Retirement has freed Larry's schedule allowing him to pursue other interests including teaching Russian delegates the American insurance industry and traveling extensively with the off-shore delivery of sail boats.

"Larry and Brenda are great examples of WIU alumni who have had successful careers after graduating from Western and who wish to remember where they got their start by giving back to their alma mater" said Brad Bainter, Director of Planned & Major Giving. "Their generous gift to WIU will provide financial assistance to students majoring in accounting or finance in perpetuity.”