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, 2005As 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, 2005Will Miller
4-19-05Thanks for the Memories
Dear Old Friend
Being Santa
For the ClausBuilding Towers
To the Heavens
So we all Could
Sleep Better at Night
Under the Starry LightSaving our Young Men
Saving our Young Women
From the Blight
We don't want them to FightExchanging 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

I'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, 2005Dearest 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, 2005Will,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,

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