GIFFORD — Roger Miller made it clear from the start where his first love lies.

"It’s something that we’ve been planning for, quite frankly, since Roger started," Gifford State Bank President Tony McLain said of Miller’s retirement. "He even made the comment that ‘Farming’s my first love. You understand that?’"

The day has come (Thursday, March 29, actually) for Miller to retire from his job as a farm loan officer at the bank and devote his full time to farming.

"The last four-five years, we’ve been making plans," McLain said. "The last two years he’s dedicated a great majority of his time to his own (farm) operation."

Miller, who began with the bank in 2004, was instrumental in getting the bank’s crop insurance program running.

McLain said the year before Miller was hired, the bank had lost an ag lender, and Miller picked up the slack of the ag department. He said Miller was instrumental in the bank’s growth and "where we’ve gotten to."

Andy Cler was hired about three years ago in preparation for Miller’s retirement. Andy Buhr also deals with farm lending. The bank’s chief lending officer, Les Hoveln, oversees the ag lending department.

The bank mailed out a letter to all of its ag customers a few weeks ago announcing Miller would be retiring.

Being a rather private guy, Miller told McLain he didn’t want an open house to mark his retirement.

"Roger being Roger, he didn’t want to make a big deal about it," McLain said. "He wanted to go off into his sunset." Possibly riding a tractor. Or at least a pickup truck.

dhinton@rantoulpress.com