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Robert S. Miser Jr., three-time All-American at Army and captain of its 1960 lacrosse team, dies

Robert S. Miser Jr., a member of the Lacrosse Hall of Fame who was a three-time All-American at West Point and captain of Army’s 1960 team, died Jan. 21 from dementia at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center. The Cross Keys resident was 81.

“Bob Miser was one of the greatest attackmen of his era and at a time when Army had an outstanding program,” said Steve Stenersen, CEO of U.S. Lacrosse, the sport’s national governing body, which is based in Sparks. “He was so passionate about the game and just a special guy.”

Robert Samuel Miser Jr., the son of Robert S. Miser Sr., an insurance man, and his wife, Lucille Sudler Miser, a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and raised on Blythewood Road in Roland Park.

While a student at City College, he was quarterback on its football team and a celebrated attackman on its lacrosse team.

“Bob Miser, City’s ace atttackman, holds a substantial lead in the 1956 lacrosse scoring race,” a Sun sports reporter wrote at the time. “The second-team all-scholastic choice in 1955 has tallied 19 goals in his five league games thus far.”

Ray J. Lanzi, of Ponte Vedra, Fla., a former Baltimorean, was a City classmate and varsity lacrosse player.

“Bob was my introduction to the game of lacrosse in 1953. I played varsity my junior and senior year, but he made it his sophomore year,” Mr. Lanzi said.

“He had the ability and learned the game at a young age. Private high schools in Baltimore always had lots of good players,” he said. “Bob was a leader. He was the man that everyone looked up to. Lacrosse was a natural expression of his innate athletic ability.”

Mr. Lanzi never forgot the first goal he scored with an assist from Mr. Miser.

“I was playing midfield offense and Bob fed me the ball. It was my first goal. It was and remains very memorable to me,” Mr. Lanzi said.

After graduating from City in 1956, Mr. Miser enrolled at West Point, where he repeated his athletic prowess in lacrosse.

James F. “Ace” Adams IV, a Baltimore native who graduated from St. Paul’s School, where he played varsity lacrosse for four years and later coached, was also a celebrated midfielder at Hopkins, Class of 1950, where he was a member of the fabled undefeated 1950 champion lacrosse team.

In 1958, he was named head lacrosse coach after F. Morris Touchstone died of a heart attack and coached Mr. Miser for the last two years at West Point.

“There was nothing better than inheriting Bob Miser and Steve Fertig, who played attack. Bob was a big feeder to Steve, from St. Paul’s School, who could put it in the goal,” said Mr. Adams, who coached Army until 1969 and now lives in Charlottesville, Va.

“Bob was unselfish, just a wonderful guy and a great teammate. You always depend on him setting things up. Once he got the ball, he would settle it down, and was just great at dodging and shooting,” he said. “They were certainly great days.”

During his years at Army, Mr. Miser earned first-team All-America honors in 1959 and 1960, and was a second-team All-American in 1958. He was a member of Army’s national championship team in 1958 and its Tri-Championship team in 1959.

Mr. Miser was a member of the 1959 West Point team that averaged 16 goals per game, which remains an academy record.

“Army’s two strong All-American candidates Bob Miser and Bill Carpenter — never looked better than in Saturday’s 17-to-6 slaughter of Maryland at West Point,” The Sun reported in 1960.

“Miser, rangy senior attackman who played here at City, used his good change of direction to work past the defense for six goals. He also helped the Cadets, now odds-on favorites for the championship, with four assists.”

He was captain of the 1960 Army team, the same year he was named winner of the Jack Turnbull Award, presented to the nation’s top attackman.

When Mr. Miser graduated in 1960 with a degree in engineering science, he was Army’s all-time leading scorer with 135 points, the program leader in assists with 64, and second all time with 71 goals. He also represented Army in the 1960 North/South Collegiate All-Star Game.

He was inducted in 1960 into the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Lacrosse Hall of Fame, the Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1980, and the Army West Point Sports Hall of Fame two years ago.

After graduating in 1960, he was commissioned an officer in the Army and served in Germany with an enemy missile reconnaissance unit. He was discharged in 1965 with the rank of captain.

Mr. Miser returned to Baltimore and resumed playing lacrosse for the Mount Washington Lacrosse Club from 1964 to 1968, where he was offensive coach in 1972 and 1973. He was also Club All-Star from 1966 to 1968, and was awarded the Mount Washington Cup in 1968.

In 1967, he was a member of the USA Lacrosse Team that beat Canada in the World Games.

Mr. Miser was a co-partner in Weber-Miser Associates Inc., a residential development company.

“We lived a block apart in Stoneleigh, that’s how we met,” said Ethel O. Weber, whose late husband, Edward Weber, became Mr. Miser’s business associate.

“He was a big, friendly guy and very smart,” said Mrs. Weber, who now lives in Crownsville, and managed the business. “They developed a lot of homes in lower Pennsylvania.”

The business closed in 1999 after Mr. Weber’s death.

Mr. Miser served on the board of the Lacrosse Foundation, forerunner of today’s US Lacrosse, from 1974 to 1976, and again from 1984 to 1989, and was foundation president from 1988 to 1989.

“Bob was authentically thoughtful, supportive and humble,” Mr. Stenersen said.

“He was passionate about building an organization that could provide leadership and resources focused on the sport’s growth and development, but he cared more about the process and the people involved than the outcome,” he said. “His example of selfless leadership continues to be an inspiration to me.”

Mr. Miser retained his interest in the sport.

“He went to Hopkins lacrosse games all the time and whenever Army played Loyola and Navy,” said his wife of three years, Jeannie Downs Polhaus, a Berkshire Hathaway Realtor.

He was also an avid Chesapeake Bay sailor.

Mr. Miser was a member of Roland Park Presbyterian Church, 4801 Roland Ave., where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 16.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two daughters, Kimberly Yost of Nashville, Tenn., and Brittish Miser of Boston; three stepsons, Richard W. Mitchell Jr. of York, Pa., Ty Montgomery Mitchell of Hanover, Pa., and Matthew Cremen of Long Island, N.Y.; a stepdaughter, Nicole Ready of Cedarcroft; and eight grandchildren.

A first marriage to the former Diane Baublitz ended in divorce, and his second wife of 10 years, Diane Cremen Miser, died in 1990.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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