2009/04/20:Captial Times: Feingold: 'midge Miller Defined Wisconsin Progressivism'

Feingold: 'midge Miller Defined Wisconsin Progressivism'
The Capital Times
Monday, April 20, 2009
John Nichols

Wisconsin's most prominent state and national political leaders are mourning the death of former state Rep. Midge Miller, the Madison Democrat who is widely remembered for the leading role she played in anti-war, feminist and economist justice campaigns from the 1960s to just weeks before she died at age 86.

"Midge Miller defined Wisconsin progressivism," declared U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Middleton, who served with Miller in the legislature in the early 1980s, when he was a freshman state senator and she was a senior member of the Assembly. "A true reformer, Midge was a role model and a treasured colleague when I served in the Wisconsin State legislature. She always put the people first and made sure their voices were heard. Her lifetime of service inspired so many in Wisconsin and across the country. She will be greatly missed."

Governor Jim Doyle, speaking for himself and the first lady, said, "Jessica and I, together with so many other Wisconsinites, loved and admired Midge. She was one of our greatest citizens. In her public life, she was courageous and committed, opening doors for so many others. In her private life, she was a warm, loving and humorous friend. Not a minute of her life went by when she wasn't trying to help other people. We will miss her deeply."

Joe Wineke, the former state senator who now chairs the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, recently helped to organize a tribute to Miller at the party's new headquarters on King Street.

Said Wineke:

"Midge Miller was a Democratic Party icon and to say that she will be dearly missed is an understatement.

Midge was a pioneer for women in politics. She was a trailblazer who shook up the political scene and helped broaden the tent of the Democratic Party.

As a longtime state legislator, activist, and member of the Democratic National Committee, Midge was a champion of civil rights and equality, and she worked tirelessly to draw women into politics across the country.

"Midge was a relentless crusader for civil rights, the environment, education, clean government, peace and countless other causes dear to the hearts of Democrats. She is a true pillar of the Democratic Party and her legacy will remain with us forever."

Perhaps the warmest tribute came from U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, who said:

"Midge Miller was a role model for me long before I ever even met her. As a young woman interested in public service and growing up in Madison, I had Midge (and Mary Lou Munts) as local examples of the difference we can make if we get involved.

As I entered elective office, myself, Midge became even more than a role model. She provided me with sage advice and, more often than not, equal doses of encouragement and good humor.

Even in retirement, Midge never stopped advocating for change. She fought for health care, advocated for peace, and pressed for election reform. And she led others in efforts to do the same.

In recent years Midge took the time to attend my Town Hall meetings, write me a note, or simply stop by for a visit to discuss the issues of the day.

I will miss Midge. I hold her family, loved ones and many friends in my heart and prayers."

Former Middleton Mayor Judy Karofsky recalled working with Miller on the 1968 anti-war challenge by Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy to President Lyndon Johnson.

"If you search the Cap Times for the day after the McCarthy 'election' in Wisconsin, you will see an article about Midge and Arnold Serwer leading the Dane County effort," recalled Karofsky. "You will also see a (picture of a) very young (27) person sitting on the floor with a 11/2 yr old . . . That's a picture of me and my daughter Jill..."

Veteran union activist Louise Uphoff recalled the role Miller played in getting her together with her husband, Charlie Uphoff, the former Oregon School Board member.

"Even when you know it's imminent, it still hurts. Midge was so important in our lives. After all, she introduced us back in McCarthy headquarters in 1968," recalled Uphoff. "I can't fathom a world without her."

A public memorial service will be held in the afternoon on Sunday, May 10, 2009, at First United Methodist Church in Madison.

Gifts in lieu of flowers can be made to Madison Institute, 2712 Marshall Court, Suite 2, Madison WI 53705.

John Nichols - 4/20/2009 7:01 am