How does one decide who will become a great leader? How does the casting of a single vote determine the future of our great state of Wisconsin? Our past can be a good indicator of what tomorrow will bring. Tim John has had a good past. He comes from good stock. He and his family have encountered their share of tribulations throughout the decades but have remained stable and steadfast. The foundation of what he embarks upon has its roots long ago when his great grandfather, Frederick J. Miller, sailed from the Old World to the New in 1854, six years after Wisconsin became a state. Frederick’s father, Thaddeus Miller, served as mayor of Riedlingen, Germany, and “on both his father’s and mother’s side, there was ancestral lineage bright with scholarly, political and commercial accomplishments.” Tim John heralds the same. Frederick was advised to take his time and look the country over before settling down. He chose Milwaukee from the short list of the German Triangle after disembarking at La Crosse, Wisconsin, and the first cornerstone of the Miller family (Tim’s destiny) was laid. Milwaukee grew from the confluence of three rivers: the Milwaukee, the Menomonee and the Kinnickinnic (look for Tim’s soon to be published book on the same topic); a suitable place to brew beer. Wisconsin farmers grew barley and hops for the sizable brewing industry. Fred purchased the Charles Best Plank Road Brewery, changing the name eventually to the Frederick Miller Brewery. The Millers sacrificed at this early stage in the brewery’s history, living a frugal lifestyle (as did grandson, Harry John, Jr. and great grandson, Tim John, a century and one-half later). Fred’s thriftiness and sales acumen increased the brewery’s value. Today this company retains the distinguishing honor of being the second largest brewery in the world. Fred’s beginnings in Milwaukee were fraught with tragedy and hardships. In 1860 he lost his first wife to tuberculosis along with two of his four children; the two surviving children never reached adulthood. After every blow, just as a bull, Fred jumped back higher and higher. He searched for another German-American woman and found Lisette Gross, the daughter of another brewery, farming family, in Franklin, Wisconsin, where they married at the Catholic Parish of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary (now St. Martin of Tours). Fred and Lisette created Fred’s second family, leaving a legacy of three sons (Ernest, Frederick A. “Fritz”, and Emil) and two daughters (Clara and Elise). The youngest, Elise, who legend suggests is the inspiration for Miller High Life’s “Girl in the Moon” later became Tim John’s grandmother. The three Miller boys attended Marquette University High School, Tim’s alma mater, and Elise was in the inaugural class of Holy Angels Academy (now Divine Savior Holy Angels) attended by Tim’s two daughters. Fred overcame roadblocks to achieve his goals, turning despair into energy in order to achieve more objectives. The brewery thrived for decades, employing coopers, brewers, teamsters, carpenters, engineers, and common laborers. Miller Beer was in great demand by the soldiers during the Civil War (as in later wars) and at the U.S. forts along the Missouri River during the expansion westward. In 1884 Fred Miller purchased land along the Missouri River, near Bismarck, Dakota Territory, to establish a second brewery. The famous Sioux chief, Sitting Bull, camped with his band at the edge of the brewery’s property. In 1888 the beer baron, Fred Miller, passed from this earth, penning a missive requesting the retention of his loyal employees who had worked alongside him as friends and coworkers rather than subordinates, thanking them for “their love and loyalty.” He beseeched his children and future grandchildren to, “be considerate and kind to each other and remain at peace and unity.” Ernest served as president upon his father’s death, followed by Tim’s great grandmother, Lisette, who stood at the helm in 1891, then his grandmother, Elise. Miller Brewery was the only major brewery with two women serving as presidents. Miller Brewery’s High Life hit the market in 1903, one of the first of its kind to be sold in a clear bottle, “The Champagne of Bottle Beer”. During Prohibition (the Great Experiment) the brewery held tight to its employees, keeping the company afloat, switching from “suds to sodas”, producing nonalcoholic beverages, malt products, soft drinks, and maintaining real estate investments such as tied houses. The family began early in their great financial philanthropic efforts, usually anonymously embracing the principle, “Let not your right hand see what your left hand does,” which came to its impressive fruition with Tim’s father, Harry John, Jr. who donated his Miller Brewery stock, valued in 1970 at nearly $100 million to causes throughout Wisconsin, the United States, and the world. He believed that his wealth would preclude him from entering heaven, leading him to donate even more fervently. Harry John, Jr. followed in his Uncle Ernest’s footsteps (who funded the building of the church of St. Benedict the Moor Negro Mission), having founded a summer camp for poor black children, where he worked alongside his wife, Erica, and where Father James Groppi was exposed to his calling of helping the black community initiate change in Milwaukee. Harry had served as the president of Miller Brewery in 1946, laying the groundwork for the brewery’s prodigious growth and expansion in Miller Valley, followed by his charismatic cousin, Fred C. Miller, (a Notre Dame Hall of Famer under Knute Rockne and camper at Red Arrow Camp in Woodruff, Wisconsin) who died tragically in a plane crash just north of Milwaukee’s Mitchell Field with his oldest son in 1954. Fred C. was instrumental in bringing the Braves baseball team to Milwaukee and helped to found the Fred Miller Theatre, the precursor to the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. On September 29th, 1928, Harry John, Jr. was among New York Governor Al Smith’s supporters as he campaigned for the presidency as a Democrat, perhaps forecasting his son’s run for elected office. Harry taught Tim to live simply and work to make the world a better place. Tim quips that, when he was ten years old, his father pointed to Miller Brewery and humbly stated, “By the way, see that, your great grandfather started that brewery.” It was the first time that Tim learned of his roots. In 2009 Tim celebrated his 50th birthday in the historic caves of the brewery that his great grandfather founded over 150 years ago. Tim John embodies Frederick Miller’s spirit, best personified in his drive, energy and can-do attitude. He is made of the stuff from which great leaders come. He, with Fred Miller’s blood running through his veins, will lead our state forward and make Wisconsin a beacon of hope once again for the world to admire. Excerpts taken from Tim John’s The Miller Beer Barons, published 2005.