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Hero Down: Upshur County Sheriff Virgil ‘Skipper’ Miller Dies Unexpectedly

Morgantown, WV – Upshur County Sheriff Virgil “Skipper” Miller died unexpectedly on April 3.

The 69-year-old sheriff was “the longest serving active Sheriff in West Virginia,” according to his obituary.

Sheriff Miller passed away at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital.

His exact cause of death was not immediately released.

The Upshur County Sheriff’s Office (UCSO) confirmed Sheriff Miller’s passing in a Facebook post the following day.

“The Upshur County Sheriff’s Department and other County offices are saddened to announce the sudden passing of Sheriff Virgil D. Miller,” the agency said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and his brothers and sisters in law enforcement.”

Sheriff Miller served in the U.S. Army military police and was stationed in Heidelberg, Germany, during his military career, according to his obituary.

His law enforcement career began in 1977, when he joined the Webster County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO).

Sheriff Miller served the WCSO for three years before he was hired by the UCSO in 1980.

After eight years as a deputy, he was elected sheriff for the first time in 1989.

Sheriff Miller was re-elected four years later, but was term-limited to two consecutive terms and could not run for office for a third consecutive term in 1996, according to his obituary.

The sheriff continued his career as a public servant by working as an Upshur County Magistrate for five years before he took over as chief of the Buckhannon Police Department (BPD).

Three years later, in 2005, he was elected as sheriff of Upshur County yet again.

Sheriff Miller served another two consecutive terms as sheriff, wrapping up his fourth lifetime term in 2012.

Due to the two-consecutive-term limit, Sheriff Miller was again ineligible to run for sheriff, so he stayed at the UCSO as a chief deputy.

He retired three years later, but returned to law enforcement in January of 2019 as a deputy for the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO).

Sheriff Miller was elected to his fifth term as Upshur County sheriff in 2020 and was still serving in that capacity at the time of his death.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice recognized the veteran lawman in 2021 as “the longest service active Sheriff in West Virginia,” according to his obituary.

“Sheriff Miller will certainly be remembered for his dedication to his calling as a law enforcement officer and as a Sheriff,” the tribute read. “The citizens of West Virginia were better because of the service and dedication he had to them and his fellow sheriffs, deputies, and officers regardless of the color of uniform. We lost a great man, great sheriff, and great friend.”

Sheriff Miller leaves behind his wife of 31 years, Susan, as well as his three sons, two stepdaughters, nine grandchildren, one great-grandson, and his siblings.

Justice ordered flags be lowered to half-staff in Sheriff Miller’s honor.

He will be laid to rest on April 8.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Upshur County Sheriff Virgil “Skipper” Miller, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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