Memories of Wade E. Miller Gym: ‘It was the place to been seen’

Dec 03, 2017
Banners for four of the five state championships Paul Walker led his Middletown High School teams to are pictured in Wade E. Miller Gymnasium. Walker finished his 40-year career with a 695-169 record and still ranks third all-time in the state of Ohio. He was 562-136 in 30 years with the Middies. Walker led the Middies to five state basketball championships: 1947, ‘52, ‘53, ‘56 and ‘57. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

One of the names most synonymous with the history of Middletown’s Wade E. Miller Gym is Paul Walker.

Walker coached the Middies for 30 seasons, compiling a 562-136 record and five state championships. He’s still regarded as one of the winningest coaches in Ohio history.

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Coach Walker died in 1999 when he was 88. His son, Paul Walker Jr., 71, lives in Texas. Walker Jr. said from the time he was 6 until he graduated from Middletown High School in 1964, he lived in the Miller gym, first watching his father lead practice, then as a Middie playing under his father.

“It was home,” he said.

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Games at Wade E. Miller Gym were a “Friday night event” in Middletown, he said. Fans dressed up like it was Easter Sunday.

“It was the place to be and the place to been seen,” Walker Jr. said during a phone interview from his home. “But it was a special time, a different time back then.”