Professor Emeritus Roswell Miller Passes Away
Michigan Tech Professor Emeritus Roswell K. Miller, who spent nearly three decades teaching forestry, surveying and more, passed away on July 23, less than two weeks before his 84th birthday.
Miller received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Forestry from State College of New York at Syracuse and his PhD from the University of Michigan. He joined the faculty of Michigan Tech in the Department of Forestry and Wood Products (now the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science), in 1965. Prior to coming to Tech, he worked as a forester for the US Forest Service and the Crown Zellerbach Corporation, a forest engineer for Navajo Forest Products Industries and as a surveyor for the New Mexico State Highway Department.
Miller’s wife, Ruth, was an associate professor in Tech’s Nursing department and moved over to Counseling Services when the nursing program was eliminated in 1979. She described their time in the Keweenaw as precious. “It was a wonderful place to bring up three boys.”
The Millers married in 1955, ten years before they’d make Houghton their home. The high school sweethearts were married for 61 years and Ruth Miller says one particular summer in the Keweenaw really stood out.
“We had a huge party for our 50th wedding anniversary. I think it lasted most of the summer.”
The Millers retired from the University in 1997 but remained in the Keweenaw until moving to the East Lansing area in 2011.
While at Tech, Miller was influential both in and out of the classroom. As one of only four PhDs in his department at the time he helped start the graduate program at the master’s level. One of three surveyors, he began development of the Land Surveying option which later became a full curriculum.
One of Miller’s former students is University President Glenn Mroz who says Miller was an influential figure on campus.
“Ros taught a number of classes at a time when Forestry had one of the highest enrollments on campus,” Mroz said.
“As a result, he touched a lot of lives, especially in surveying, forestry camp and fire control.”
Mroz said a lot of Miller’s students will remember the “Venison Booyaw.”
“It was an annual feast that he and the late Professor Norm Sloan spearheaded for the students. Ros dedicated a lot of his time working with students outside of what was the traditional role of faculty members at that time.”
Miller’s research interests were vast and included work in forest fire fuels, forest fire management, forestry management and surveying. He wrote part of a chapter in the Revised Forestry Handbook of the American Society of Foresters and during one three-year period, published more than 140 newspaper articles on forestry in four U.P. newspapers.
Miller served as a Michigan Tech Faculty Association representative for many years and was a member-at-large of the University Senate. He was appointed for three different terms to the Michigan Board of Forestry by two different governors.
He served for more than six years on the editorial board of the Journal of Forestry and reviewed articles for publication by the Journal for more than a decade.
A hockey enthusiast, Miller was a member and the secretary of the Board of Directors of Portage Lake Multi-Educational Services, Inc., helping operate the Houghton County Arena. He was a longtime member of Grace United Methodist Church in Houghton, serving in the choir and bell choir.
Miller’s interests ranged from the use of stars in navigation, Greek mythology, engineering history, Copper Country railway history and wildflower photography.
Ros Miller had a full and wonderful life and, according to his wife, a wonderful ending.
The Millers had just enjoyed what Ruth described as “such a wonderful two weeks,” spent with family and friends. On the evening of July, 23, Ros told his wife, “I’m going to take my book and my pipe and go outside.”
Ruth Miller said a while later she checked on her husband who was sitting on a bench in front of their apartment and he had passed away. “Sitting there with his book and his pipe, he had the most wonderful passing,” she said.
Miller is survived by his wife Ruth and their three sons; David, Wayne and Richard. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Aug. 16, at Asbury United Methodist Church in Lansing. The service will be led by Pastor Bo Rin Cho of Asbury UMC and Jeff Paulson, a Methodist minister and one of Miller’s former forestry students at Michigan Tech. The family will receive friends an hour prior to the service.
Arrangements are being handled by the Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes where a full obituary may be viewed online.