Oren Miller, a stay-at-home dad who created A Blogger and a Father blog, which attracted worldwide attention, and the equally successful Facebook group "Dad Bloggers," died Saturday at his Owings Mills home of cancer. He was 42.
"Oren's blog was a life-changer for so many dads, and I've known him since he started the blog about five years ago," said Aaron C. Gouveia, an IBM contract manager who lives in Norton, Mass. "It helped dads with parenting issues."
In 2012, Mr. Miller formed the Facebook group "Dad Bloggers," a private group, which has grown from 15 participants to more than 900 members.
"Personal problems may come — and they do come — and dads came here to talk about personal problems, marriage and sick kids," said Mr. Gouveia. "Oren was able to get us together with this online megaphone of his."
"The 'Dad Bloggers' is on every continent except Antarctica," said Carter Gaddis, a former longtime Tampa Tribune sportswriter, who is now a father who works at home for a digital marketing agency. "When he proposed starting 'Dad Bloggers,' Oren said it was 'so crazy it just might work.' "
The son of Aharon Miller and Celine Miller, Oren Miller was born and raised in Tel Aviv, where he graduated in 1991 from New High School.
After high school, he served in the Israeli Army with the Golani Brigade, an elite combat unit. After being discharged in 1994, he moved to London, where he pursued a music career as a bass guitarist in a rock band.
It was during his time in London that he met his future wife, Beth Blauer, a Montgomery County native, who was taking a post-college trip through Europe.
She told Baltimore Sun reporter Julie Scharper, who profiled Mr. Miller in a Sun article in November 2014, that she immediately knew she wanted to marry him.
The couple married in 2001, and after living in Brooklyn, N.Y., they moved to Maryland, where Ms. Blauer earned a law degree and Mr. Miller earned a bachelor's degree in creative writing in 2002 from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Mr. Miller worked in several bookshops and then took a job at the Central Booking and Intake Center, where he conducted interviews with inmates and prepared pre-bail recommendations.
When his wife gave birth to their son, Liam, in 2007, he became a stay-at-home dad, and began recording family life on his blog, A Blogger and a Father. Three years later, Ms. Blauer gave birth to a daughter, Madeline.
"He has been their primary caretaker since infancy, walking them to the playground, hugging away tears, sipping cups of pretend tea," wrote Ms. Scharper.
Through A Blogger and a Father and later "Dad Bloggers," Mr. Miller was able to connect with other fathers and share experiences about raising children.
Mr. Miller "called out advertisers for perpetuating stereotypes of bumbling fathers," wrote Ms. Scharper. "Then he began sharing his thoughts on raising children. His tone is gentle, self-deprecating, edged with a dry wit."
"Dads have been treated as kind of a novelty and loosely organized. We were like a bunch of lone wolves," said Mr. Gouveia. "One of his big issues that really ticked off Oren was Amazon Women. He wanted them to change it Amazon Parents."
"It was a safe place to go and talk about a broad spectrum of political views [for] gay dads, white dads, black dads, old dads, military dads, and police officer dads. We do more than talk about changing diapers," Mr. Gaddis said of the blog and Facebook page.
"He created a diverse group and brought us all together, and what we had in common is that we are all dads," he said. "That was our commonality. We are dads who want to share our stories and hang out."
In 2014, Mr. Miller was diagnosed with the lung cancer that eventually took his life.
"At the time of his diagnosis, he was given an optimistic prognosis of a year; however, we all were fearful this was a bit unrealistic," said Dr. Ashley Helgeson, a cardiac fellow at Johns Hopkins Hospital and a former neighbor who was part of Mr. Miller's medical team.
"Oren fought through four different chemotherapy regimens, radiation, steroids, and exhausting side effects of the therapies and the cancer in every attempt to prove all the medical professionals wrong," she said. "He was determined to live as long as he could to give back to his friends and family."
Ms. Scharper reported that Mr. Miller told Dr. Helgeson, "Even if I die of this, I've lived heaven on earth."
And as his body was increasingly overcome with cancer, Mr. Miller continued writing.
"He gave us all endless written accounts and beautiful words of wisdom about the power of love, life and living," said Dr. Helgeson. "He wrote letters for his wife and children for their birthdays that he knew he would not be present for, as he wanted those left behind to remember his life purpose and the love he had for his family."
She said that Mr. Miller "fought with every ounce of his soul" against his cancer.
"He pushed with all his might until the end, when he realized there was no longer a battle he could fight, at which point he came to peace and spent his last few days sleeping in the arms of his family and making hilarious one-line statements," she said.
When a hospice worker asked about his blog, Mr. Miller responded, "Would you like my card?" and when he handed her the card, she said, "Oh, so you are like a Mr. Mom," to which he responded, said Dr. Helgeson, "No, more like a Mr. Dad."
She added: "Oren answered his unexplainable situation with nothing but grace and, ultimately, peace."
"Oren Miller taught me how to live with grace and dignity," Mr. Gaddis said. "And how he faced his impossible, horrible situation lifted me to unimagined heights.
"He showed us that there is a way if you have it within you to greet life's great tragedies with grace and dignity, and that's a valuable thing," he said. "For Oren, not being around his kids, that was the thing that made him the saddest."
Funeral services were held Monday at Sol Levinson & Bros. Inc. in Pikesville.
In addition to his wife, former head of StateStat, Maryland's open-data program, Mr. Miller is survived by his son, Liam, 7; his daughter, Madeline, 4; his parents; a sister, Cigale Meshel of Tel Aviv; and several nieces and nephews.
Baltimore Sun reporter Julie Scharper contributed to this article.