Ralph W. Miller, a retired mechanical engineer who had been a founding partner of a Baltimore engineering firm, died May 8 of heart failure at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center. He was 91.
The son of Edward A. Miller, a cemetery monument dealer, and Estella G. Miller, a homemaker, Ralph William Miller was born in Baltimore and raised in Walbrook. After graduating in 1940 from Polytechnic Institute, he earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 1943 from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
After graduating from college, Mr. Miller joined the Army Air Corps as an engineering officer. He served with several training squadrons in the U.S. and then was sent to China. There he joined the 14th Air Force, which was also known as the Flying Tigers, under the command of Maj. Gen. Claire L. Chennault.
Mr. Miller served on General Chennault's staff at the 14th Air Force's headquarters in Kunming, China, and attained the rank of captain by the time he was discharged in 1946. He was a member of the Military Order of the World Wars.
He returned to Baltimore in 1946 and joined Whitman, Requardt & Associates, where he worked for a decade. He then became a co-founder in 1956 of a mechanical-electrical engineering firm that eventually became Miller, Schuerholz & Gipe. Four years later, Mr. Gipe left to start his own firm and it became Miller, Schuerholz & Associates Inc.
The firm specialized in designing heating, air-conditioning, plumbing and electrical systems for building projects for a wide variety of commercial, industrial and government clients. These projects included many schools and other educational facilities in Baltimore City and in numerous counties across Maryland.
"He hired me when I got out of Poly in 1956," said C. Ronald "Ron" Menzel, who later became a mechanical designer, engineer and an associate of the firm.
"Ralph had been in the service and he was a by-the-books kind of guy. But his door was always open and if you had a scheduling conflict, he made sure it got resolved one way or the other," said Mr. Menzel, who lives in Timonium near Mr. Miller.
"He was always on the go and he traveled all over the state to find work to keep the firm going. We had the Washington County schools and schools in Worcester County on the Eastern Shore," he said. "One of our biggest clients was the Navy's Chesapeake Design Division at the Navy Yard in Washington, and we did big and small projects for them."
Mr. Menzel said that one of the biggest projects the firm handled was the Macdonough Hall and Scott Natatorium athletic facility at the Naval Academy.
After selling the company to Century Engineering Inc. in 1986, Mr. Miller retired.
He was a past president of the Baltimore section of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and later was a national vice president of the organization. He was elected president in 1975 of the Consulting Engineers Council of Maryland.
Mr. Miller had also been president of the American Council of Engineering Companies in Maryland, a group that includes most of the engineering companies in the state. Other professional memberships included the National Society of Professional Engineers and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers.
Throughout his life, Mr. Miller was a member of several United Methodist churches. In his youth, he was a member of Walbrook United Methodist Church on North Avenue. When he lived in Lochearn from 1956 to 1976, he served as chairman of the Organizing Committee and was a lay leader of the Epworth United Methodist Chapel on Liberty Road.
He later moved to Timonium's Fox Chapel neighborhood and since 1980 had been a member of Towson United Methodist Church, where he had served as chairman of its administrative board.
For the last three and a half years, he had been a resident of the Blakehurst Retirement Community in Towson.
Mr. Miller was married in 1949 to the former Anita Elizabeth Lambert. Through the years, the couple shared their mutual fondness for travel and had visited all 50 states. They also traveled to more than 90 foreign countries on six continents, family members said, and liked traveling by steamship.
Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.
In addition to his wife of 64 years, Mr. Miller is survived by a son, the Rev. Ralph W. Miller Jr. of Adliswil, Switzerland; two daughters, Carolyn E. Amghar of Cockeysville and Pamela J. Sudeck of Chambery, France; seven grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.