William A. Miller Jr., a seasoned newsman and public relations executive who was the first managing editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education, died Wednesday of heart disease at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. He was 88.
"He was a very special person, newspaperman, and a special citizen," said former Sen. Paul A. Sarbanes.
"He was always very fair and thorough in his reporting. He was a combination of the outgoing and quiet, if that's possible. He was very warm, friendly and outgoing and not the explosive type," said Mr. Sarbanes. "He was very calm, and this is what made him an excellent newsman. He would not jump to conclusions and was very measured in his approach to things."
The son of William A. Miller Sr., an accountant for International Harvester, and Marion Hazel Thomas Miller, a homemaker, William Andrew Miller Jr. was born in Somerville, Mass. He was raised in Boston, Brussels and Baltimore, where he graduated in 1942 from City College.
After enrolling at the University of Iowa, Mr. Miller was drafted in 1942 into the Army Air Forces, where he was trained as a navigator for heavy bombers and attained the rank of lieutenant.
When World War II ended, Mr. Miller returned to the University of Iowa, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1948.
He worked for the Des Moines Register and The Evening Sun before becoming a staff editor in the Associated Press bureau in Baltimore for five years. In 1953, he went to the New York Herald Tribune News Service as assistant editor until eventually being promoted to editor.
In 1958, he was named director of public relations of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, where one of his responsibilities was editing the hospital's Under the Dome newsletter.
After four years at Hopkins, he became a consultant for the launch of the Peace Corps under President John F. Kennedy in 1962.
Mr. Miller then moved into the world of higher education when he joined the American Council on Education as director of public information and edited its flagship publication, Higher Education and National Affairs.
In 1965, Mr. Miller became the first managing editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education with co-founders Corbin Gwaltney, editor, and Jack Crowl, associate editor.
At its founding in 1966, The Chronicle of Education had its editorial offices on North Charles Street near the Johns Hopkins University and later moved to its present home in Washington.
"During his tenure at The Chronicle, he appeared on NBC News' 'Meet the Press' in 1970 to discuss the vast protest movements on college campuses during the Vietnam War," said a daughter, Lisa Christine "Christy" Miller of Baltimore. "The Chronicle has since become the leading trade source of news and information for those in the field of higher education in America."
After leaving The Chronicle of Higher Education in 1975, Mr. Miller was editor in chief of Plus Publications in Washington, and from 1978 to 1980, he was editor in chief and publisher of International Medical Reporters.
Mr. Miller ended his career as senior consultant and editor for Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium, an organization whose mission was to provide educational opportunities to enlisted members of the military services who, because they frequently moved from place to place, had difficulty completing college degrees.
He retired in 2001.
A longtime resident of the city's Tuscany-Canterbury neighborhood, he was an inveterate Baltimore Colts, Orioles and Ravens fan.
"His passion was baseball, and he had attended thousands of Oriole games in Memorial Stadium and at Camden Yards," said Ms. Miller. "He organized a large group of Orioles fans and arranged their season ticket purchases for years, making him an Orioles' 'Designated Hitter.' "
Mr. Miller was also an astute poker player who played with a close group of friends for almost 50 years. His friends also joined him in establishing the "Unstable Club," which made investments in Maryland thoroughbred horses.
He was a world traveler with his wife of 57 years, the former Barbara Wehner, whom he met on a blind date to a Yankees baseball doubleheader.
Mr. Miller also enjoyed singing and particularly liked the patriotic songs of George M. Cohan and Gilbert & Sullivan light operas.
Plans for a celebration of Mr. Miller's life are incomplete.
In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Miller is survived by two sons, Thomas A. Miller of New York City and James J.R. Miller of New Oxford, Pa,; two other daughters, Kathryn M. Goldman and Beth M. Fairall, both of Baltimore; a brother, Gordon Miller of Fort Meyers, Fla.; and eight grandchildren.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun