Jerome Mileur Obituary

We lost a great colleague, a scholar and a friend of NPSA.

Jerome M. Mileur Hadley

Jerome M. Mileur of Hadley Massachusetts, friend, professor, baseball fan and mentor to many, died on Tuesday, Sept. 5th at the age of 83 after a very brief illness. He died surrounded by many that loved him deeply which, had it been allowed, would have filled a baseball stadium.

Jerry Mileur was born in Murphysboro, IL in 1934 to Charles and Mildred Mileur. He developed a love of politics, baseball, and puns, and was devoted to his home state and its history. He went to college and graduate school at his beloved Southern Illinois University where he was a member of Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. He earned his bachelor’s degree in speech communication in 1955 and a doctorate in government in 1971. He maintained a life-long connection to SIU and established a lectures series, in honor of his SIU mentors, at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, where he had served on the board of directors for many years.

He joined the Political Science faculty of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1967 where his teaching and research focused on U.S. political parties and elections. He quickly became the best friend to a number of sports fans, and best friend to an equal number of people who could not spell the word “Cooperstown.” He taught at UMass for 37 years during which time he advised a large number of doctoral students, was chair of the Department of Political Science, was awarded the UMass Amherst Chancellor’s Medal, and founded the Jackie Robinson Initiative which marked the 50th anniversary of baseball’s integration. He was an accomplished author and editor.  But his attention to his students was most important to him, and life changing for those who benefitted from his wisdom, consideration, and concern. He leaves behind an enormous group of “Jerry’s Kids;” a large cadre of devoted graduate students who learned from him in the classroom and well beyond it and who continue to this day to spread the intellectual gospel they learned from him.

His dedication to his communities, both in Illinois and in Massachusetts, was evidenced by his extensive political activity, his support for the arts, and his long-standing weekly breakfasts, lunches, and happy hours with friends of all ages.

Some knew Jerry for his love of baseball.  He was the long-time owner of the Harrisburg Senators until 1994.  Even to this day, if you mention his name at the stadium people will say “Jerry brought baseball back to Harrisburg!” Others will remember Jerry for his dedication to the St. Louis Cardinals, a love that was kindled by his much-loved grandfather August Willi. Jerry published two books on the Cardinals and his third volume was completed just a few days before his death.  Others will think about his collections of political memorabilia and extensive frog collection which he kept at his home in Hadley affectionately named “Frogs Folly.”

But for most, Jerry Mileur will be remembered for his immense heart that was filled with kindness, and a generosity that was peerless. His unrivaled ability to care for others was matched only by his corny wit and his fierce intelligence. His family and friends joyfully enjoyed his many puns, songs, and humor.  You could see the depth of his interests and his extensive world travels by walking through his house which was a testament to his curiosity and sense of adventure. But the biggest testament to his love of life was his very large collection of friends. He socialized, traveled and adventured extensively with them and was always planning the next event or trip with them. To say “he will be missed” is such an absurd understatement and one he would certainly, in his humbleness, deny.

Jerry had a loving family across the country and was a beloved figure at family weddings and gatherings. He will be deeply missed by them all. He was preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Mildred Mileur of Murphysboro, IL.  He grew up with and maintained a close connection with cousins.  He is preceded in death by his cousin Margaret Reddy (survived by her husband John Reddy).  He is survived by his cousin Lou (Nancy) Derickson and his cousins Ron (Maureen) Reddy, Rona (Mike) Vargrosky, David (Ashley) Reddy, Karen (Archie) Cole, and John (Bev) Reddy.

Visiting hours with friends and family were held at the Douglass Funeral Home in Amherst Massachusetts on Sunday, September 10, with a brief service.  A full memorial service will be held in Amherst on September 30th with details to follow.  Given Jerry’s long commitment to others and his community, we ask that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made in his name to the Amherst Survival Center, 138 Sunderland Rd., Amherst, MA 01002, God speed, Jerry, and may you rest in peace.