Albert D. Miller Jr., longtime Perry Hall High School athletic director and coach who had also coached at Dundalk and Parkville high schools, died July 13 at his home from Alzheimer’s disease.
The Parkville resident was 82.
“He was a very versatile guy who was strong on academics, and the kids respected him as a leader,” said Robert Y. Dubel of Glen Arm, superintendent of Baltimore County public schools for 16 years before retiring in 1992.
Frank A. Insinga of Perry Hall recalled that he knew Mr. Miller “three ways” — as a student, as a co-worker and “as his tax preparer.”
“I played varsity baseball for him at Dundalk High School. I was a catcher,” Mr. Insinga said. “We were tough blue-collar kids, and he loved us and we respected him as our teacher.”
Albert Dominic Miller Jr. was the son of Albert D. Miller Sr. and Eleanor Gauyaux. He was born in Baltimore and raised in Edgewood.
He was an outstanding football and baseball player while a student at Bel Air High School, and after graduating in 1953 he enrolled at what was then Western Maryland College, now McDaniel College. There he continued playing football and baseball.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1957, he began a four-decade career with Baltimore County schools, first as a coach at Dundalk High.
He then joined the faculty of Parkville High School and in 1966 transferred to Perry Hall High School and was named the school’s athletic director. He also coached the football and wrestling teams.
“I didn’t see Al for years. After high school, I [started] a teaching career and taught at Essex, and then there was an opening at Perry Hall High School in 1973. I was a physical education teacher and coached a couple of sports,” Mr. Insingna said.
“You could say that at times Al was too nice of a guy — he was liked by all of the students and those he coached. But when needed, he knew how to tighten the knot,” he said.
"He was a good listener and would do anything he could for you. If you needed to go for a doctor’s appointment, for instance, and couldn’t find a [substitute teacher], Al would cover your class,” Mr. Insinga said. “He was a great man. No one ever said a negative thing about him.”
“We had a policy that we viewed coaches as teachers first, and he played that role perfectly. He was a master teacher,” Dr. Dubel said. “Al was very outgoing and personable and quite the salesman for Perry Hall High School. He was a great spokesman for the school he so loved.”
Mr. Miller often went to extraordinary lengths for his students.
“He often paid for shoes so a kid could play football, or he’d fly to a college to speak to the athletic director so a kid of his could get an athletic scholarship,” said his wife of 59 years, the former Jean D. Grenzer. “He was a very good man.”
“There is no other word in the English language to describe Mr. Miller than superlative,” said Tim Crotty of Perry Hall, the student manager of the football and wrestling teams from 1967 to 1970. “He was much beloved by the student body, faculty and the administration.
“You had to be out of your right mind if you didn’t like the man,” Mr. Crotty said. “He was like a second father to me.”
In 1980, Mr. Miller coached the school’s wrestling team to its first title. He stepped down as wrestling coach in 1994 after 19 seasons because of a new Baltimore County schools rule that allowed athletic directors to coach only one sport. By that time, he had coached teams to four county titles — three at Perry Hall and one at Dundalk.
“His teams were among the county tournament’s top-four team finishers in 18 of his 20 coaching seasons,” reported The Baltimore Sun at the time.
“It’s going to be hard giving up being head wrestling coach because I love it,” he told The Sun. “But I’ll stay involved by working tournaments and things like that.”
Mr. Miller coached the Perry Hall football team for 19 seasons, and won five county titles. He assisted Joe Stoy, who took over as football coach in 1985, for the next 13 years, and added five more county titles.
He was named Baltimore County wrestling coach of the year four times, and county football coach of the year three times.
In 1998, Mr. Miller was the first inductee into the Perry Hall Sports Hall of Fame, and in 2002 the Maryland State Athletic Directors Association named him to its Hall of Fame.
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In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Albert D. Miller III of Forest Hill and William H. Miller of Felton, Pa.; a daughter, Joanne Miller Waldron of Cockeysville; a brother, Ronald Miller of Silver Spring; a sister, Joan Drasata of Riderwood; three grandchildren; and a great-grandson.