Suzanna "Sue" Miller, whom friends called "Mrs. Baltimore" for her role in selling homes to those moving here, died of pneumonia Saturday at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. The Pikesville resident was 80.
"She was an irreplaceable person," said Lynne R. Miller, who with her husband, Dr. Edward D. Miller, former Johns Hopkins Medicine chief executive officer, was a close friend. "She brought together so many people. She was such an ambassador for Baltimore, we called her and her husband Mr. and Mrs. Baltimore. She was a wonderful meeter and a greeter for John Hopkins, too."
Born Suzanna Neustadt in San Antonio, she spent her childhood in the Olmos Park area of that city.
"Her family were ranchers who ran one of the largest ranch and farm supply businesses in the Southwest," said her cousin, Nick Kotz of Washington, D.C. "She was loyal to her Texas roots and developed a passion for the University of Texas Longhorns. She made trips back to San Antonio with her family and would visit her favorite Mexican and barbecue restaurants."
In 1954, after she earned a degree from the University of Texas, she moved to Washington, D.C. There she met her future husband, Milton Hartman "Mickey" Miller Sr., who was then a management trainee for the Hecht department stores, which members of his family owned.
He was later a commercial real estate broker who was elected to the Baltimore County Council and served on the Regional Planning Council. His father, J. Jefferson Miller, led the development of downtown Baltimore's Charles Center in the 1950s.
"Their life together encompassed over 50 years of civic and social activities that supported their passion for helping the community and friends in Baltimore," said her son, Milton H. "Mickey" Miller Jr., who lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
After raising her family, she got her real estate license when she was about 50 and initially worked with Mary Bell Grempler. More than 25 years ago, she joined Hill & Co. and worked for many years out of its Cross Keys offices. She worked with well-heeled clients, and when enthusiastically describing a room in a house, she would exclaim, "It was divine."
Her son said her easy personality and sharp acumen won her sales and friendships. She counted among her friends and clients the late Art and Patricia Modell.
"Not only did she broker the deal, but she befriended her clients and introduced them to the neighborhood and threw parties to bring social and civic people and scholars together," her son said.
Her cousin, Mr. Kotz, said she developed business and social relationships with the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
"She worked with the department heads at Hopkins when they were trying to recruit physicians and teachers to Baltimore. These were people who could initially be reluctant to move," he said. "She had the widest circle of friends I have ever known, and she didn't just find her clients a home — she made them a part of her family. Once they had settled in Baltimore, they would be seated at one of her dinner parties."
He said she did not seek to be a socialite. He said she loved being with people and opening her home.
"She had a great sense of style and presentation," said J. Carroll "Jake" Boone, a Hill & Co. colleague and friend. "She was all about integrity and had a heart of gold. She could be entertaining 150 people but would invite the mailman if she ran into him before the party."
Her daughter in-law, Susan Miller of Palm Beach Gardens, said she served ample portions of comfort food. "One night, it might be fried chicken or sliders; vodka and cheese puffs with chutney. Nothing was healthy," she said.
"Family and her grandchildren were the center of her world," her son said. "She had millions of friends, and as busy as she was, everything stopped for family."
Mrs. Miller and her husband traveled extensively and collected antiques. An accomplished card player, she was also a quilter and read widely.
Funeral services are private. The family will receive visitors from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Suburban Club of Baltimore County, 7400 Park Heights Ave.
In addition to her son, survivors include two other sons, J. Jefferson Miller III of Savannah, Ga., and John P.K. Miller of Baltimore; and seven grandchildren. Her husband of 55 years died in 2010.