The Daily 750

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An Officer and a Gentleman, and a Dear Friend

Friday, May 19, 2006

My dear friend Joe Miller died last night. Joe lived a glorious life, and if there is glory after life he is shining in it now.

Joe was a paratrooper on D-Day. A Kentucky Colonel. The head of a large division of the American Medical Association in Chicago. A stern father. A kindly and generous grandfather. An interesting husband for two terrific women. Joe's first wife died right about the same time as his best friend, a doctor in Astoria. Joe and his best friend's wife found comfort with each other, and for the last 15 years or so Joe and Edith Henningsgaard Miller have been nearly inseparable.

I met Joe in 1997, when we were both appointed by Mayor Van Dusen as "ex-officio" members of the newly formed Astoria Arts Commission. It was a mess. Months of talking but no action. No plan for action. No money for action. During one session my rolling eyeballs met Joe's rolling eyeballs, and it was friends at first sight. We began with a shared impatience for process and a desire to just get on with It, whatever It is.

Joe found a languishing 501(c)3, Astoria Visual Arts, and we took it over. Joe raised nine-tenths of the money to repaint the mural at Fort Astoria, and to rebuild the fence and upgrade the landscaping. Joe stayed on as chair and raised the bulk of the money during the first two years of the AVA Gallery.

Over the few years I knew Joe, we had lunch about once a month and talked on the phone in between. We passed some emails during the winter months he and Edith spent in Florida. There wasn't a subject Joe didn't have some interest in. He was a most trusted confidant in a very small town.

I've missed Joe very much the last few weeks. I wanted to talk with him about the campaign but I knew he was too ill to be bothered. His was one of the voices, one of the lives I carried for courage and determination and good behavior.

My granddaddy, Albert Wohlstetter, Lucian Marquis, Joe Miller: the older men who brought me wisdom, taught me treasures, always thought of me as a young woman no matter how old I became.

Joe Miller is one of the few people who will be with me forever. It was an honor to know him and to be thought of as his friend. So long, Joe. You are missed.