Donald Miller, a retired judge, Air Force veteran, military base commander and husband of former congresswoman Candice Miller, died this morning. He was 80 years old.

In his long career of public service, Don Miller flew combat missions in Vietnam, served as commander of the Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Macomb County, transitioned to a legal career as a state magistrate and later as a Macomb County Circuit Court judge.

In response to Miller’s death after a long illness, James Biernat, chief judge of the Macomb Circuit Court, said:

“Don was well-respected for his judicial temperament and leadership qualities. He spent his entire adult life serving the citizens of this country in one capacity or another. He was a mentor to many young attorneys, including myself, and his death is a real loss to the community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Candice and their family.”

It was while serving as commander of the Selfridge base in Harrison Township that Miller married the then-township supervisor, Candice MacDonald. With Don as a constant source of support, Candice Miller rose from township supervisor to county treasurer, Michigan secretary of state, congresswoman and now the county public works commissioner. The couple were married for 35 years and lived in Harrison Township throughout, including in a house on the Clinton River that was nearly a stone’s throw from the Selfridge base.

State Attorney General Dana Nessel paid tribute to Don Miller earlier today, saying: “Judge Miller will be remembered by his colleagues and servicemen as a man dedicated to service of his country and the people of Michigan.”

Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser added this: “From his military service to his time on the bench, Judge Miller put his country first and his leadership and commitment to public service will be greatly missed.”

Born in Grand Rapids, Miller had a life-long fascination with aviation. He began flying at age 16 in a Piper J-3 Cub, attended Michigan State University on an Air Force ROTC scholarship, and then was commissioned as an Air Force officer in 1961.

In Vietnam, served with the 509th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, flying combat missions from Da Nang and Tan Son Nhut air bases.

After the Vietnam war, Miller served in the Michigan Air National Guard, attaining the rank of colonel and finishing his military career as Selfridge commander and as director of operations for the 127th Tactical Fighter Wing at the base.

At the same time, Miller earned a law degree and, when he retired from the military in 1988, he transitioned again to the legal profession, holding the position of a worker’s compensation magistrate and later on the state Worker’s Compensation Appellate Commission. Miller sat as a judge on the county Circuit Court from 1998 to 2010.

Throughout that tenure, Miller continued to fly and he built and piloted his own aircraft. He and his home-built RV-8 plane were well known at Ray Community Airport and many other locations.

Funeral arrangements will be made through Wm. Sullivan & Sons in Utica. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to the Selfridge Military Air Museum, 27333 C Street, Bldg 1011, Selfridge ANGB, Mich., 48045; or the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 154, 18025 E. 15 Mile Road, Clinton Township, Mich., 48035.