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Longtime Lawton FFA Teacher Loses Battle with Cancer

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It's a sad day for Lawton Public Schools and the local chapter of Future Farmers of America as they say goodbye to one of their own.

Longtime Agricultural teacher Jeff Miller passed away last night after a long battle with cancer. He was 51 years old.

After being hired in 1984, Miller's career with Lawton Public Schools spanned nearly twenty years, teaching at both MacArthur and Lawton high schools.

On paper, Jeff Miller was quite a remarkable Agri teacher. His sheep judging teams here in Lawton were the best in the whole country after winning back to back national FFA titles. But the true legacy that Jeff leaves behind with his community is one that folks say can't be written down.

"When he came out of college, he was really excited," said former colleague Larry New.

And it was that excitement and energy that former coworkers say transferred to years of students who walked through the doors of Mr. Miller's classroom.

"He came in, excellent classroom teacher, extra-curriculum activities he was great, he was over our sheep program," said New. "He was also over our livestock judging team."

That team would go on to be nationally -- and even internationally known. And for Jeff Miller, that was no stroke of luck.

"He was just absolutely as hard a driver of those kids. He would take what I would call a hairy legged kid from whatever walk of life that kid came from. If that kid said ‘Mr. Miller, i want to judge livestock,' he said, ‘then you better prepare to be a national champion because that's where we're going to try to go.'" said former teacher Don Armes.

But the impact Jeff Miller left on students and fellow teachers went beyond trophies and titles.

"We became very very good friends and very close. But this wasn't unusual for him," said New.

"When you spend that much time with somebody in a co-worker type situation, you just build up quite a lot of a relationship," said Armes. "And he was just a great guy, and we had a great time. It was a good chapter in my life, and I hope it was in his."

"What do you hope he'll be remembered for?"

"Being a friend. That to me, is big," said New.

The outpouring of former student response today has been huge. One former student, Michelle, wrote to 7News saying, I don't know if the general public understands the full extent of an Ag teacher's influence. Although I was in Future Farmers of America, I did not become a farmer. I may not remember a single thing about sheep husbandry, wheat planting, etc., but the confidence, leadership, pride and a host of other life skills Mr. Miller and all of these amazing men instilled in me changed my life. Mr. Miller was a wonderful teacher who was greatly appreciated and who will be missed dearly."

Funeral services for Jeff will be held tomorrow at the First United Methodist Church in Claremore. After that, he will be laid to rest in his hometown of Jet, Oklahoma.

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