The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

July 31, 2013

J. Robert Miller

The Daily Star

---- — J. Robert Miller

 MARYLAND — Bob Miller, 91, passed away peacefully on July 26, 2013, following a brief illness. He left tremendous legacies in the areas of conservation, ecology, birding, inspiring young minds and scientific research – his passions.

Bob was born on July 2, 1922, and raised in Red Oak, Iowa. Outstandingly bright, Bob was awarded many top honors and scholarships throughout his education. He graduated in 1943 from Iowa State, having fallen in love with organic chemistry and biochemical research. Bob immediately joined Parke Davis Laboratories in Detroit, working for four years to develop penicillin (the first antibiotic), which was later voted the most important advancement of the 1900s. In 1950, Bob received his PhD in organic chemistry at Syracuse University, moved to Maryland and became a chemistry professor at Hartwick College until retiring in 1984. 

Fondly known as “JR” or “Doc” at the college, Bob had a profound influence on many young minds in both chemistry and bird biology. He helped the college acquire Pine Lake Environmental Center and created innovative field “bird courses.” Bob was awarded the title of emeritus professor and the honorary degree of Doctor of Science after his retirement.

In 1945, Bob married Jean MacArthur, the love of his life. They were married for 65 years and raised six children. Together Bob and Jean traveled, camped, shared their passion for nature with their children, enjoyed nature photography and studied and published articles on birds. Later in life, they led bird tours worldwide from 1990 to 2000. Bob helped found the Delaware Otsego Audubon Society in 1968. He was known for his skills at identifying birds by sound. A charter member of DOAS, Bob was editor of their newsletter for 30 years. He organized annual “bird counts” and was active on the board until his passing. Bob and Jean were named Conservationists of the Year by the Otsego County Conservation Association in 2009 for a “lifetime of devotion to environmental concerns.” 

He is survived by children, T. Robert Miller of Fairfield, Calif., David Miller of Fremont, Calif., Stephen Miller of Nashville, Tenn., and Sarah Root of Maryland. 

Bob was predeceased by his beloved wife, Jean, in 2010 and two children, James (1960) and Susan (2011). Bob was immensely proud of all his children. 

There will be no service, per Bob’s wishes.  In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Delaware Otsego Audubon Society, P.O. Box 544, Oneonta, NY 13820. 

To send an online condolence or light a candle, visit, or you may mail a card to J. Robert Miller, c/o Bookhout Funeral Home, 357 Main St., Oneonta, NY 13820.

Arrangements are by the Bookhout Funeral Home, Oneonta.