Rodney was born May 23, 1965 in Decatur, Illinois. The son of David and Ellen Miller, he graduated from Eisenhower High School in 1983 and earned a communications degree from Millikin University in 1988. He was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.
Rodney established himself as one of the most outstanding swimmers in NCAA Division III during his career with the Big Blue. He earned All-American honors 16 times and was a national champion six times in three events during his swimming career. He was voted Illinois Swimmer Association Male Swimmer of the Year four times and in 1987 was named Herald & Review Athlete of the Year. He set numerous university, conference and state records, including four individual and four relay records. He won 20 conference championships, including a conference record 12 individual titles. Twice he was named Millikin captain and as a senior, was chosen to receive the M award, given to the senior man who contributed the most to Millikin’s athletic program.
Rodney became an Illinois State Trooper in 1990. He became a Special Agent in 1994 and quickly established himself as a top-notch investigator with a vast knowledge of criminal law. He received a special citation after his investigative work in the Karyn Slover homicide case, receiving accolades for his professional excellence and unfailing work ethic. He was promoted to Sergeant on Dec. 16, 2003, and was most recently assigned to Zone 5 investigations as the Acting Master Sergeant over the special investigations unit. He was a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, Trooper Lodge 41.
Rodney married Karla Camillo on March 3, 1990. The couple spent many happy moments with their two children, sons Daley, 11, and Zach, 9. He took great pride in his sons and enjoyed coaching their baseball teams. He was most recently named commissioner for the national league 9-10-year-olds South Shore Baseball program.
He was an avid outdoorsman and enjoyed spending time fishing and hunting with his dad and friends at his farm in western Illinois. Rodney had a hunter’s respect for the natural world and always believed in conservation and preserving the environment.
After Rodney’s collegiate athletic career concluded he continued to maintain his athletic mindset. He had been training to become a triathlete and most recently had competed in the Sullivan triathlon, placing first in swimming and 20th overall.
Rodney’s quick laugh and self-deprecating sense of humor resonated through every facet of his life. He was a friend’s friend who shared his laughter and spirit and heart with every life he touched. He may best be remembered with a line from the movie, It’s a wonderful life: “No man is a failure who has friends.”
Rodney’s star blazed brightly for his short time on this earth. But it cast a powerful, amazing light that lifted us all. We are so lucky to have had him in our lives.
A MEANINGFUL TRIBUTE
Rodney Miller was larger than life. He packed a lifetime into only 40 years. He had this big contagious laugh that made others laugh when they heard it. He loved a good practical joke too, and traded a lot of practical jokes over the years with his friends. Rodney was a very accomplished athlete, but he was also very modest. In fact, it was only after knowing Rod for several years that his friends learned that he had been honored as the 1987 Herald & Review Athlete of the Year. Of course, that piece of information was used for all it was worth.
Rod turned 40 last May 23rd and strangely enough, there was a photo of Rodney and an ad announcing this milestone birthday in the very paper that honored him in 1987. It said: “The 1987 Herald & Review Athlete of the Year turned 40 yesterday. More buoyant now than ever! Happy birthday from your friends.”
Needless to say, Rod was not pleased, and whenever he inquired, was told that all the leads had “dried up.” Rod always laughed and said that that did not surprise him.
Rod was also very modest when it came to his accomplishments as a Police Officer. He always gave credit to the other guy. But everyone who knew Rod knew how savvy he was. Rod didn’t miss any details when it came to handling an investigation. He was extremely intelligent, and he was committed to determining the truth…whatever it was.
When one thinks of Rodney Miller, one thinks of integrity. And that is how he handled his cases...with the utmost respect for the victim and a dogged pursuit of the suspect. He worked countless hours on cases and it didn’t matter if it was in Medicaid Fraud or on a homicide investigation. Rod treated them all with the tenacity of the professional that he was.
Rod loved working in Champaign with a group of guys that were more than co-workers… they were friends. Rod called me on the morning he died, and told me how much he loved being back in Zone 5. He said he had been called out with the guys in his unit on Thursday night and they had worked a case in Champaign until early Friday morning. But in his typical modest style, Rod was giving the credit away. Rod started telling me about his friend and co-worker, Mike Atkinson…and about how incredibly Mike had performed during the call-out on Thursday night. Rod told me he wished I could have seen Mike’s command presence and confidence demonstrated during the investigation.
When I told him what Rod had said, Mike told me everything he had learned in investigations, he had learned from Rodney Miller. He said that Rod was the confident one and that he had called Rod many times asking for advice. Rod had taken him under his wing and that he owed his investigative success to Rodney Miller.
Everyone who knows Rodney knows how much he loved to hunt. And when he hit the woods, he looked like he just stepped out of a Cabela’s catalog. Rod has a farm in western Illinois…and he loved going there with his boys, Zach and Daley. Rod also loved going with his dad who he affectionately referred to as “Padre.” Rod told me about a lot of great hunts that he had with his dad at the farm where they hunted trophy bucks. The cabin is full of deer heads that could be on a magazine cover. And whenever Rod talked about the deer mounts he always pointed out that his dad had bagged the biggest one.
One area where Rod was not modest was when he spoke of his family. He was so proud of Karla, Daley and Zach. He adored his family and he lived for the time that he spent with them. They will always be the light of his life. I spoke to Rod almost every day, and he was so proud of his boys. He loved them more than anything else in the world.
Rodney had a thoughtful habit that left a legacy for his many family and friends. He sent cards to people, thoughtful notes of appreciation -- he left them everywhere. His life was full of showing appreciation for the small things others did for him, and recognizing their accomplishments.
This extraordinary guy, with his own great accomplishments, would thank others for theirs because he liked to make people feel good. That was Rod - the most humble guy you would ever know, and one of the most extraordinary.
Rodney, our friend, we all thank you for the wonderful memories and the good times. I know you are smiling down on us, and making someone laugh in heaven. Rodney, you will be sorely missed and we’ll will always remember you as the hero that you are.