Distinguished Alumnus
Class of 2014
Robert Terry Miller

AHS Class of 1964

Terry Miller was born on April 11, 1946, and grew up on a farm southeast of Arcola. His parents are Bob and Dorie Handley Miller. He spent much of his youth at the racetrack and around horses. His dad was a harness racing driver at the county and state fairs. This experience with horses would lead him to a business career later in life. Although Arcola was never his home after his AHS graduation in 1964, he seemed like a resident because of his frequent visits to see family and friends.

In high school, Terry was a leader and involved in many activities. He was a class officer all four years, in the class plays, Homecoming King, on Student Council, National Honor Society, Torch staff, football and basketball captain. He was also a four-year member of the football, basketball and track teams. Terry was a standout on the 1963 and 1964 teams coached by Bob Avery with records of 26-2 and 25-6. The 1963 team won 26 straight games. Both teams were Okaw Valley conference and tournament champions, as well as Charleston Holiday Tourney champs. The 1964 team won the Mattoon Regional and the Champaign Sectional, beating the host Champaign Maroons. That team eventually lost to Stephen Decatur in the Illinois State Super Sectional. Terry was named to the 15-man All-State basketball team in the 1-class system. In football, Terry played guard as a sophomore, quarterback as a junior and running back as a senior. In track, he advanced to state with a discus throw of 1815. It was a state record at that time and still an AHS record. Terry has often proclaimed that his high school coaches, Bob Avery and Lloyd Atterberry, were as good as coaches he had at any level, including the U of I and the NFL.

Terry attended the University of Illinois on an athletic scholarship. He was a four-year member of the football team, lettered three years and was a starting linebacker. He was named to the All Big 10 team on defense and is still one of the leaders for career interceptions by a linebacker. He also played on the basketball team his freshman year and was on the track team for two years, throwing the discus and javelin. Terry graduated from the University of Illinois in 1968.

Terry was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 7th round of the 1968 NFL draft and spent two years with the Lions. He became a free agent in 1970 and was signed by the St. Louis Football Cardinals. He spent five years with the Cardinals before his career was cut short by four knee operations. Terry is most likely the only Arcola native to play in the NFL.

While in the NFL, Terry spent winters working at harness racing tracks in Florida. He started selling horse insurance while still playing with the Cardinals in 1974. He moved to Lexington, Kentucky, in 1975, and in 1976 he established his own agency that specialized in life insurance on racehorses. In 1986 he joined partner Lynn Jones at Equus Standardbred Station. They also insured cattle, dogs and ostriches, but 95% of the policies were sold on thoroughbred and standardbred racehorses. One of his highlights was a long standing association with Anheuser Busch at the Kentucky Derby, where Terry conducted seminars. Terry says he enjoys the racetrack, horses and the people he has been associated with for nearly forty years. This career has allowed him to do something he loves almost as much as athletics.

For the last thirty years, Terry has dedicated a good portion of his life to helping those with addictions. He has served as a mentor, advocate, speaker and friend to help those in need of his inspiration and guidance.

Terry credits much of his success in life to his parents, family and friends. He has a daughter, Stephanie, and one grandson. Terry also believes that his education and the teachers at Arcola High School gave him the background to achieve in sports and business.

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Last Revision November 11, 2017