SYCAMORE – DeKalb County Coroner Dennis Miller has worked in the coroner’s office since President Ronald Reagan’s first term in office.
Miller’s longtime service to the county recently was recognized by the DeKalb County Board.
A Republican who announced in September that he won’t seek an 11th term in the general election, Miller was praised by his colleagues both elected and appointed for 40 years of service.
He’ll retire at the end of the year.
After receiving a standing ovation from the County Board and members of community who had gathered for the meeting, Miller said he had his family to thank.
“I couldn’t have been here all these years without my family – my wife and my kids,” Miller said. “They mean a lot to me. That’s why I did it.”
In 1979, Miller began his career in the county as deputy coroner. In 1984, he was appointed by the County Board to fill the unexpired term of his predecessor, Coroner Bill Sullivan. Miller officially ran for the position in the 1984, winning election to the office.
He’s held the position ever since.
“Let me just put that in some context,” DeKalb County Administrator Brian Gregory said during the Jan. 17 County Board meeting. “At that time, Apple introduced the Macintosh personal computer [and] there were ads during the Super Bowl.”
The coroner’s office is tasked with investigating deaths across the county – from sudden and natural deaths to violent deaths, including homicide cases.
Over the course of four decades, Miller has handled and coordinated responses to numerous disasters, including the 2008 mass shooting at Northern Illinois University, in which a lone gunman killed five students and injured dozens more.
Miller also was called to respond to an EF-4 tornado in 2015 that killed two residents in Fairdale.
“We’ve waved to each other on the road now for – I didn’t think it’s been 40 years, but it’s been a while. You’ve done a heck of a job,” said DeKalb County Board member Jerry Osland, a Republican from District 12.
In the same month he officially was elected to public office, Miller found himself getting acquainted with the duties of another publicly elected office in DeKalb County.
It wasn’t long after that he found himself in an unexpected role: From Nov. 26, 1984, until March 20, 1985, Miller also served as DeKalb County sheriff.
“It turns out there’s a provision in the state law that when there’s a vacancy in the sheriff’s office, the coroner steps up into that position. And it’s not surprising that [Miller] stepped into that role when he was called on to do so,” Gregory said at the meeting. “Throughout his career, he’s stepped up whenever he’s been needed.
He’s been a staple of DeKalb County government. So tonight we honor and recognize [Miller’s] 40 years of service and thank him for making and dedicating himself to DeKalb County.”