Popular Nebraska mandolinist Lyle Miller has passed away at the age of 96. He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Fern Miller, two daughters and several grandchildren.
Though he had been playing since he was a young child, Miller didn’t actively pursue a professional career in bluegrass until he had retired from his long-time job as parts manager for a Chevrolet dealership in Omaha. But he was active in bluegrass all the while, playing weekends with various groups, and rarely missing a good jam session.
Friends love to share the story of how he carried a mandolin in his backpack serving with the Army Air Corps for four years in Europe during World War II.
Lyle was a beloved figure within the mid-Western bluegrass community, especially for his kindness and encouragement to young musicians. He taught mandolin lessons for many years, and was a fixture at all the bluegrass events in his local area.
One picker who recalls him for his warmth and generosity is Kelly Green of Acoustic Endeavors, who remembers Miller well from her childhood.
“I met Lyle and Fern when I was maybe 8 or 9 years old. Growing up in a musical family, we attended all the picking sessions, fiddler’s conventions and festivals in and around Omaha. Lyle and Fern attended them all as well. The first time we met, I remember he was smiling, and from that moment on I never saw Lyle when he wasn’t.
He was very soft spoken and well mannered, and he took time with all of us kids, playing and showing us tunes. He took time with everyone he met.
He was a man that truly loved to play the mandolin. In fact, I don’t ever remember seeing him when he didn’t have the mandolin in tow. Though quite an accomplished mandolin player, he was always very humble about his talent.
I know that all of us kids, and adults alike, learned many things from Lyle about music and life. The lessons and songs that we learned will live on in all of us that knew him.”
A more detailed memorial can be found online at Omaha.com.
Services will be held on June 5 at the West Center Chapel in Omaha. Visitation will begin at 1:00 p.m., followed by a funeral at 1:30. Internment with military honors will be held afterwards at Hillcrest Memorial Park.