Local athletics pioneer and former Florida Citrus Sports employee Charlie Miller has earned the organization’s highest service honor, the Howard Palmer Award. Miller received the recognition in front of his family and a crowd of fellow FCSports members at the 2013 Member Celebration presented by BMO Harris Bank and Florida Hospital.
Miller becomes the 24th member to earn the award. A Central Florida resident since 1954, he is largely credited for helping to change the face of race relations and sports in the area.
“A true gentleman, Charlie’s contributions to this community are substantial and date back nearly 60 years,” said FCSports CEO Steve Hogan prior to the event. “Whether coaching, establishing a summer camp for kids, attracting the Florida Classic to Orlando or shaping young lives, Charlie has always puts the needs of others first. He is a humble man who has lived a life teaching and leading young and old throughout Central Florida and recognizing his contributions with our most prestigious individual honor, is long overdue.”
The prestigious Howard Palmer Award is a tribute to the FCSports member who continually strives to make significant contributions to the organization and its efforts without regard for personal recognition. Presented since the 1989-90 season, the annual award recognizes a “lifetime” of service to FCSports. Past honorees include such Orlando notables as Bill Dymond, Harvey Massey and last year’s honoree, Bill Sullivan.
A former basketball player at Indiana State University, Miller was hired as the coach at Hungerford High School (later known as Wymore Tech) at a time when race relations in the south were strained at best. He led Wymore to the 2A state title game in 1968 and later the championship in 1970. He championed equality in athletics, challenging a system at the time that featured white and black teams playing separately. He later went on to coach teams at Edgewater High School and Valencia Community College in his 25 years of coaching. He also went on to become a critical piece in securing two of Florida Citrus Sports’ greatest initiatives of diversity, the FCSports Foundation Summer Camp (which began in 1994) and the Florida Classic.
After receiving the award, Miller entertained the audience at the showroom of Fields BMW of Winter Park with stories of his days on staff, including his mentoring of Hogan when the future CEO began his FCSports career in 1995. He was joined at the event by his wife Margaret, his son Greg, his daughter-in-law Cathy, his granddaughter Evan and his great-grandson Logan Gonzalez.
The Howard Palmer Award is a well-deserved honor for a man who has done so much to impact not just Florida Citrus Sports, but the Central Florida community as a whole.