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Charles E. Miller

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Charles Edward Miller, who owned and operated a Charles Village commercial art school, died in his sleep April 9 at the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home. No cause of death was determined, family members said.

He was 93 and had lived in the Cromwell Valley section of Baltimore County.

Born and raised in New Windsor, he was a 1936 graduate of New Windsor High School, where he played on a championship basketball team and won silver medals in track and field competitions. A drummer, he played in his high school orchestra and the Maryland State Orchestra.

During World War II he served in the Army and was stationed in California. While there, he attended the University of California at Berkeley and studied physical education. He later received a Maryland Institute College of Art scholarship and completed teacher training at the Johns Hopkins University.

In 1947, he founded a commercial art school. He bought a building in the 2400 block of St. Paul St. and chose a French variant of his name to create his Le Millet Private Art School. He erected a sign that incorporated the school's name and an artist's palette over the sidewalk. He was the school's only teacher and remained in business for nearly 50 years.

Mr. Miller taught day, evening, weekend and children's classes. At its peak, the school had an enrollment of about 30 students.

"He taught commercial and fine-arts classes but realized that commercial artists would always be able to get a job," said his daughter, Carole Miller Zendle of Oakton, Va. "He was proud that he was able to place his graduates in work."

He met his future wife, Dorothy Jackson, through associates in the printing industry. She was a Parkville attorney who also served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1951 to 1958. Family members said his students often consulted her on handling legal problems.

"He was known for his sense of humor and warm personality. He could light up a room with a funny turn of phrase," said another daughter, Anne Crutchley of Parkville. "Whenever I was having a bad day, I would go for a run with my dad, and he would make me feel like I was the most special person in the world."

Mr. Miller insisted his students learn to draw and paint outdoors, and often set up outdoor landscape classes at Loch Raven Reservoir. He also hired live models so his students could draw the human anatomy, which he felt would serve them in careers as fashion illustrators or in other fields.

In the 1950s and 1960s, his students regularly exhibited at a weekend show around Druid Hill Lake. He also had them seasonally decorate the school's large window that faced the street.

Another daughter, Alice Miller of Parkville, said her father and she often discussed his two favorite subjects, sports and art. "He was an expert on both. We would talk about how to paint the color of the sky," she said. "One day we were talking about all of the shades of green in the landscape. I said, 'I could do this forever.' He said, 'No, you couldn't.' Then I asked, 'Why?' He said, 'Those colors will be gone in a few minutes.'"

Mr. Miller and his wife were devoted Baltimore Colts fans. They drove to New York for the 1958 championship game, when the Colts defeated the New York Giants.

Carole Zendle said her father's love of sports led him to community service with the Parkville Recreation Council. He coached her on a softball team and coached his son, John B. Miller, in baseball and basketball.

"Often, the players were unable to get to the practices or games, so my dad would make several trips to pick up players in his red 1956 Corvette convertible," she said. "It was well known throughout the community. He had to make multiple trips because it only sat two, maybe three. He was an unforgettable character and an amazing, doting father to his children and grandchildren."

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 5701 Loch Raven Blvd., where he was married and was a member.

In addition to his three daughters and son, who lives in Cromwell Valley, he is survived by three grandchildren. His wife of 54 years died in 2005.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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