There is no tragedy in the death of George Boehm Miller, 90, who passed away suddenly on April 25, 2020. Great sadness, unfathomable grief, yes, but there is no tragedy. He lived his life without reservation, giving to his community, friends, and family with a whole heart. Nothing was left unsaid.
Born on March 6, 1930 in Detroit to George and Elizabeth Miller (née Boehm), George graduated from Cooley High School, attended Albion College where he met his future wife Caryl, and completed his bachelor’s degree at Wayne State University. He earned a PhD in Physical Chemistry from Purdue University and spent his career as a research scientist with companies including Marathon Oil, Sandia National Laboratories, Hewlett Packard, and Occidental Oil, eventually being appointed Director and President of the Nova-Husky Research Laboratory in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
A lifelong musician, George played the trumpet professionally during the big band era in Detroit. His long-gone green silk zoot suit is the subject of family lore. He enjoyed telling the story of going to see the Tommy Dorsey Band as a boy and being befuddled by all the young women swooning over the band’s skinny lead vocalist. “I had no idea who the guy was. I was there to listen to the musicians and all that screaming was annoying,” he said. He went on to sing tenor in barbershop quartets and other choirs, directed several church choirs, became a pianist, learned and performed the bass guitar at his church, and in the past few months was learning to play the ukulele.
George believed strongly in education and was a lifelong feminist. He fully supported his wife in her career as a chemist and encouraged all of his children to seek higher education, pursue their careers with passion, and find happiness. In the 1950s, he talked his way into the delivery room to be with Caryl for the birth of their first child, an almost unheard-of event in those days. He was a present and passionate father from that day forward.
But George would be the first to tell you he was human. He struggled with his faith, yet persevered. He struggled with addictions to smoking and alcohol, beating them both. He struggled with the latest technologies, loudly sharing his frustrations with anyone unfortunate enough to be within earshot. Yet he mastered the iPhone, Windows (sort of), FaceTime, and online streaming.
Most important, however, was George’s ability to connect with people and those he loved. He was just as deeply in love with, and in awe of his wife as he was on the day they married. His greatest joys included his children, granddaughters, nieces, nephews, and the many children who followed. He treasured his relationships with countless friends, gladly sharing in their happiness and helping shoulder their pain. His sense of humor and ability to laugh at himself are legendary. These are the things we will miss most about him.
George is survived by his beloved wife of 69 years, Caryl, their children Jeanne Miller, Rob Miller, Georgia Miller and her husband Tim Blood, granddaughter Sydney and her husband Chris Baker, granddaughter Robby Blood, sister Liz and her husband Jim Cook, as well as nieces and nephews Caryl Reese, Ann Hopkinson, Joel Reed, Mary Jones, John Reed, Tim Cook, and Caleb Cook. He is preceded in death by his niece Kimberlee Cook.
The family wishes to express their gratitude to the staff of the Kalispell Regional Medical Center for looking after George in the midst of the pandemic, and for helping to ensure that Caryl could be by his side when he passed.
George was a long-time member of Christ Lutheran Church in Whitefish, Mont. Due to present health restrictions, plans for a memorial will be made at a later date. Those who wish to honor George’s memory are asked to donate to a charity of their choice.
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