Milton H. 'Mickey' Miller, civic leader, dies

Milton H. "Mickey" Miller, 80, a retired commercial real estate broker and civic leader who ran a successful fundraising campaign for the Peabody Institute, died of congestive heart failure Nov. 12 at Sinai Hospital. The Pikesville resident was 80.

Born in Baltimore, he was the son of J. Jefferson Miller, the Hecht department store executive who led downtown Baltimore's urban renewal development in the Charles Center. He was a 1948 Friends School graduate and earned a history degree at the Johns Hopkins University. He served in the Army as a lieutenant in Korea.


Family members said that as a child, Mr. Miller exhibited a fascination with rail transportation systems and studied Baltimore's streetcars and their routes. He would observe Pennsylvania, Baltimore and Ohio, and Maryland and Pennsylvania railroad trains from the North Avenue bridge. Throughout his life, he remained a rail transit advocate and worked to improve train service in Maryland.

Mr. Miller followed his father into work at the department store, where he was a management trainee. In the early 1960s, he left retailing and went to work in commercial real estate sales at Kornblatt & Fenniman. He later joined his son, Milton Mickey Miller Jr., of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and Ira Miller, who is no relation, to form the Miller Corporate Real Estate Services. He did office and light industrial leasing.


"He was devoted and loyal to his clients," said Leonard Weinberg, a Vanguard Equities partner. "He had a smile for everybody and did not have a mean bone in his body."

In 1966, he ran successfully for the Baltimore County Council. He served four years and became a proponent of planning, mass transit and parks creation. He pushed for the county to purchase and improve Oregon Ridge and Soldiers' Delight.

He was a past president of the Baltimore Junior Association of Commerce and led a national convention of Jaycees to Baltimore in 1967. He also fostered creation of a Jaycee chapter at the Maryland Penitentiary.

He stepped down from the County Council in 1970. In 1972, Gov. Marvin Mandel appointed him chairman of the Regional Planning Council. He served until 1981 at the state agency and worked with Baltimore's mayor and the executives of five surrounding counties. In 1975, he prodded governments to adopt the 911 emergency phone number.

Mr. Miller also supported bus, light rail, commuter rail and the Baltimore Metro systems. As part of those duties, he commissioned a $10,000 study in 1973 to initiate a renovation of Pennsylvania Station. The restoration spanned nearly a decade and included the uncovering of three leaded-glass skylights that had been covered over during World War II as a blackout precaution.

He was also a port of Baltimore commissioner and traveled to China, Korea and Japan as part of his duties. He was an adjunct director of the Airport Commission as BWI Marshall underwent expansions.

Mr. Miller retired from his real estate business in 2005.

In 1980, he was tapped to lead a $25 million campaign to rebuild the Peabody Institute's depleted endowment.


"When he headed up that campaign, it was deemed undoable, and yet, he did it," said former Peabody director Robert O. Pierce, who lives in Towson. "Mickey's service to Baltimore's nonprofits and arts organization was long and terrific. He was a loyal friend to us all. He was always available whenever I needed him."

He was a trustee and later trustee emeritus of Sinai Hospital, the Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Family members said Mr. Miller helped found the Jemicy School in 1973. He enabled the school to begin educational activities in his then-empty family home at Jemicy Farm. The school was then in its early stages of educating children with dyslexia. The farm was named by Mr. Miller's parents for their three children and employed the first two letters of their names: Jeff, Mickey and Cynthia.

He was a former chairman of the Baltimore chapter of the American Red Cross and the Independent College Fund of Maryland. He was president and chairman of Baltimore County General Hospital, now Northwest Hospital Center. He was a trustee of the University of Maryland at Baltimore, and a member of the advisory boards of St. Joseph Medical Center, Boys Latin School, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum, the Lyric Foundation and the old Baltimore Opera Company. He was a past board member of Associated Jewish Charities.

He was a world traveler and often took trips with his children and grandchildren. Along the way he introduced them to trains and streetcars.

"He just loved trains," said his sister, Cynthia Rosenwald of Pikesville. "It was his passion and our family joke."


He collected American and British antiques and read works of history. He kept an extensive collection of railroad memorabilia, including timetables, books and posters.

Services were private.

In addition to his son and sister, survivors include his wife of 55 years, the former Susanna "Sue" Neustadt; two other sons, Jay Jefferson Miller III of Savannah, Ga., and John Perry Kallison Miller of Owings Mills; and seven grandchildren.