Traverse City Record-Eagle

October 7, 2012

Robert M. Miller


TRAVERSE CITY — Robert "Bob" M. Miller, 90, of Traverse City, passed away on Sept. 28, 2012, at Traverse Manor, surrounded by his loving family.

Bob was born on Dec. 26, 1921, in Findlay, Ohio, to the late Dr. (Charles) Merlin and Vera (Miley) Miller. He had one adopted sister, Mary Jean Miller.

On July 23, 1949, he married Carmen G. Sundwick in Detroit, and they had three children. Together they shared 63 years of marriage.

Bob was a 1939 graduate of Findlay High School, after which he attended Findlay College for one year, transferred to Ohio State University and graduated in 1947 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration/Accounting.

Bob faithfully served our country from 1943 to 1946 in the United States Army during World War II. Stationed in Pearl Harbor, he was selected to be part of joint Army/Navy intelligence operations in the Pacific. As a cryptographic technician his intelligence work involved decoding and encoding classified messages intercepted from the Japanese.

Upon honorable discharge he returned to his studies at Ohio State University.

After graduation Bob moved to Detroit, where he had accepted a position as auditor with Lybrand, Ross Brothers & Montgomery and was licensed as a CPA. He began working for Sperry Corporation Vickers Division in 1957 as Manager of Internal Auditing. Part of his work involved travel throughout Europe, Great Britain, South America, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and the United States, overseeing and finalizing internal audits of company plants. Bob retired in 1983 after serving as Director of Internal Auditing for Sperry Corporation. He was an active member of numerous professional organizations his entire career.

Inspired by Dr. Henry Hitt Crane at Central Methodist Church - Detroit following World War II, Bob had a lifelong commitment to service and social issues. This was expressed in his dedication to a variety of organizations, including the Vestry and Finance Committees at Central Methodist Church - Detroit and Grace Episcopal Church (Traverse City), Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) - Traverse City, and the Financial Committee of Child Guidance Center of Northwestern Michigan. He logged many hours at the Food Pantry of Grace Episcopal Church, was a founding member of Veterans for Peace - Traverse City, and was active with the Episcopalian Peace Fellowship - Grace Church. Many newspaper editors, U.S. Congressmen and presidents received Bob's letters urging action on various social concerns.

In his youth Bob began studying life through the lens of a camera. His various jobs, including his boyhood paper route for the Saturday Evening Post and working at Johnson's Drug Store as a "soda jerk," allowed him to buy cameras, film and equipment. Bob belonged to camera clubs wherever he was — at Findlay High School, in Hawaii during his military service, in the Detroit area (as a member of the Photographic Guild of America) and in Traverse City. He created his own darkrooms and enjoyed developing his own black and white photographs. He had a great love of nature and scenic photography and won several awards for composition and the artistic quality of his work. He always carried his camera wherever he went.

Bob also filled his life with music; he was thrilled by the sounds of symphony orchestras and organs, whether in the seat of his sports car, a concert hall, a church pew or his favorite armchair. Bob enjoyed traveling with his wife throughout Europe, England, Ireland, Canada and the United States, and in his retirement years enjoyed several Elderhostel programs. He was an avid bicyclist and enjoyed bike trips in the Midwest with his son.

In his later years Bob dealt with a degenerative neurological condition with strength, perseverance and acceptance. His entire life was lived by his values of honesty, integrity and commitment.

Bob orchestrated a full life for his family and left them with the gift of his lifelong daily diaries. Bob was a patient and devoted husband and father. He had a quiet but attentive presence and will be greatly missed for his dry sense of humor and crazy songs, his conversations and stories, his sweet tooth and sweet demeanor.

Bob is survived by his wife, Carmen; son, Charles Miller, of Traverse City; daughter, Charlotte Miller, of Lansing; daughter, Martha (Bradley) Miller Cornell, of Naples, Fla.; grandson, Nathaniel; and granddaughter, Caroline Cornell.

Bob was preceded in death by his parents and sister.

Bob's family gives a special thanks to the staff of Traverse Manor and Comfort Keepers who provided great help to Bob in his final years with caring and compassion and to Hospice of Michigan who honored Bob with dignity and respect in his final week of life.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012, at 2 p.m., at Grace Episcopal Church in Traverse City.

Contributions in memory of Bob may be directed to Grace Episcopal Church Food Pantry, 341 Washington, Traverse City, MI 49684; or Hospice of Michigan, 400 Mack Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201.

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The family is being served by Reynolds Jonkhoff Funeral Home and Cremation Services.