WACC alum's emotional return 'best day' ever

Published 12.06.2019

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A 1967 Williamsport Area Community College graduate’s longtime dream came true recently when he toured the college’s Larry A. Ward Machining Technologies Center and Lycoming Engines Metal Trades Center.

Lee Miller came to Williamsport Technical Institute as a student in Fall 1965, fresh out of high school. He said that, seven weeks after his arrival, the institute became Williamsport Area Community College. (In 1989, it transformed into Pennsylvania College of Technology.)

He graduated with a machinist general certificate. While a student, Miller roomed at 955 W. Fourth St., where he paid $60 a month.

Accompanied by Kimberly R. Cassel, director of alumni relations, Lee I. Miller, ’67, shows off the WACC parking pass he paid a few cents for in the mid-1960s, along with his class ring.“There were no dorms, so we had to do all boarding houses,” said the Pine Grove Area High School graduate, whose home, he noted, was five counties and 92 miles away.

In his second year at the college, he added full-time work at Avco (now Lycoming Engines) to his schedule. Still, he tried to get home every weekend.

After graduation, he completed an apprenticeship and worked in surveying and construction. One of his first projects included surveying a large portion of the future Interstate 81 corridor in Schuylkill County.

He worked his way up in the construction industry, gaining certifications and supervisory positions along the way. His work included shopping malls, prisons and bridges. A math whiz at geometry, trigonometry and computing volumes, he says that, at one time, he knew more than 90 mathematical formulas for construction.

“None of that could have happened if I didn’t come here,” Miller said.

Miller often told his wife, Karen, that he wanted to visit the college once before he dies. Without his knowledge, she called and arranged a tour with Alumni Relations.

“On Tuesday, we’re going to Williamsport,” she told him.

During the tour, Miller had tears in his eyes, calling the new facilities “a Cadillac.”

“This is the best day of my life,” he said before leaving campus. “Those guys were super nice to me.”