GIBSONBURG, Ohio - The Rev. Charles L. Miller, an Evangelical United Brethren minister and pastor of Trinity Church here in the late 1960s when his denomination and the Methodist Church merged to form the United Methodist Church, died Wednesday in Otterbein-Lebanon Retirement Community, Lebanon, Ohio, where he had lived for nearly nine years. He was 84.
He died from complications of dementia, his wife, Beulah, said.
During his 40 years in the ministry, he served churches throughout northwest Ohio, the longest assignment of which was in Gibsonburg. He retired in 1983 from the former Oakdale United Methodist Church in East Toledo, where he had been since the late 1970s.
“He was a precious man - his gentleness, sweetness, kindness,” said Mary Wilkolek, an Oakdale member who belongs to its successor, Unity United Methodist Church. “I just loved that man. I sing, and he would always say, `You're my favorite singer.'”
Thunderous oration was not his style. He was known instead for his straightforward sermons.
One Oakdale member told Mrs. Miller that “his sermons were to the point and expressed God's Word,” she recalled. “She thought he should write a book of sermons. He always had a point in his sermon, so he had to get that across.”
Mr. Miller began in 1943 as a minister of the United Brethren in Christ, later known as the Evangelical United Brethren, and was pastor in Risingsun, Ohio. He was pastor of churches in Hoytville, Attica, and Bascom, Ohio, before his assignment to Fulton County, where he served North Dover and Beulah churches north of Wauseon as pastor.
He later was the pastor of churches in Celina and Old Fort, Ohio.
Mr. Miller grew up in Hooversville, Pa., and was a graduate of Otterbein College, Westerville, Ohio. He received a master's of divinity degree in the mid-1950s from Winebrenner Seminary, Findlay.
“He started out to be a schoolteacher, and then he decided to be a minister,” his wife said. “His family was always interested in the church; he was brought up that way.”
In younger years, he built a doll cupboard for his daughter and enjoyed other woodworking projects. He liked classical music, nonfiction books, and crossword puzzles, his wife said.
Mr. Miller belonged to the Lions Club in Old Fort and Toledo.
He and his wife spent much of the first decade of retirement in Lakeland, Fla.
Surviving are his wife, Beulah, whom he married June 20, 1942; son, James I. Miller; daughter, Pamela A. Swain; five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
Services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in the Otterbein-Lebanon Chapel, Lebanon, Ohio, where visitation will begin at 10 a.m. Arrangements are by the Oswald-Hoskins Mortuary, Lebanon.
The family requests tributes to the Otterbein Benevolent Care Fund, Lebanon, Ohio, or the Hospice of Dayton.