Donald Walter Miller

May 16, 1928 ~ November 8, 2021 (age 93)


Donald Walter Miller

In the early morning hours of Monday, November 8, 2021, Don passed away peacefully at Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca, NY after battling sepsis. He was surrounded by his family whom he cherished. His strong will to live and the love, support and prayers of family and friends helped Don survive a massive stroke 14 years prior and lead a full life.

Don was born at Syracuse General Hospital on May 16, 1928. He was the only child of Walter Seymour Miller and Martha Louise (nee Schweitzer) Miller.

Don grew up in the Tipperary Hill area of Syracuse surrounded by his numerous Schweitzer cousins. He was both baptized and confirmed at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. He graduated from Central High School in 1946 and enrolled in the New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University. Don’s professional career began in the GE apprentice program in Syracuse and in 1955 he moved to GE’s Advanced Electronics Center in Ithaca, NY. It was in Ithaca that he met his future wife, June Beverly Nelson of Tonawanda, NY. They married on June 30, 1956 in Anabel Taylor Chapel at Cornell. Don continued to work for GE until 1965 when he became the chief designer at the Laboratory of Nuclear Studies at Cornell University with design responsibilities for the mechanical and electrical equipment for the development and construction of Cornell’s Wilson Synchrotron. Throughout his 40 years of dedicated service at Cornell, Don wore several different hats in the laboratory including architect/engineer, technical supervisor, and head of publications/archives. Don enjoyed teaching others and in the mid-70s also served as an adjunct professor of drafting at Tompkins Cortland Community College. He also started his own company, DWM Graphics, which provided drafting and illustration support for various companies.  

As busy as Don was professionally, there was always time for his family. He was a proud husband, father and grandfather and was always happy to share stories about his family. Don was a storyteller, both tall and true, and amused all who would listen with antics of his youth. Don's best self was not so much in his accomplishments, as many as there were, but rather in the way he interacted with the people he came to know.  His humor, caring, and willingness to be involved endeared Don to many throughout the community.

Don was a life-long Boy Scout and started his Scouting journey in 1940 at the age of 12. He was an Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, Wood Badge recipient and an avid outdoorsman. Don shared his love of the outdoors and Scouting with countless youth for over 45 years, as a Cub Master, Scout Master of Troop 6 in Ithaca and Merit Badge Counselor. In recognition of his exceptional character and distinguished service to the Baden-Powell Council, Don was awarded the Silver Beaver Award. Don’s other passion was folk and square dancing which he began in the late 40’s and shared with his wife. For much of his life, Don could be found throughout Central New York teaching folk dance and calling square dances. He called square dances at elementary schools, through Cornell Outing Club, at Cornell’s Freshman Orientation, weekly during Cornell’s summer session and was a judge for the 4H square dancing competition at the NYS Fair.

If his children were involved in something, so was Don. He served as PTA co-president with his wife at South Hill Elementary School and President of the Ithaca High School Band Boosters, attending every football game and band competition and serving as a frequent chaperone. Don was an active member of St. John’s Episcopal Church, a member of the Order of DeMolay and the Liverpool Lodge of the Masonic Fraternity.

Don fully embraced the role of Grandfather and was blessed to have three grandchildren. He enjoyed attending their music, theater and sporting events and spending time with them whenever possible.

Don was preceded in death by his parents, his half-brother Eugene H. Miller and his loving wife of 60 years, June B. Miller (nee Nelson). Don is survived by his son Scott A. Miller (Kristen Park) of Dryden, NY, his daughter Christine Miller Whaley (Harry E. Whaley) of Chester Springs, PA and his daughter Diane June Miller of Ithaca, NY. Don is also survived by his beloved grandchildren: Cameron A. Park-Miller, Emma L. Park-Miller, Harry Nelson Whaley, and several nieces and nephews.  

Calling Hours will be held on Saturday, November 13, 2021 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at Bangs Funeral Home, 209 W. Green Street, Ithaca, NY. Burial will occur in East Lawn Cemetery on Sunday, November 14, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. followed by a funeral service at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 210 N. Cayuga St. Ithaca NY at 3:00 p.m. with The Rev. Megan Castellan officiating. A reception will be held in the Parish Hall immediately following the service.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made in Don’s name to CBSAA (Camp Barton Staff Alumni Association) which will go toward protecting and preserving Camp Barton for future generations of Scouts (please contact Scott Miller for further details); St. John’s Episcopal Church, 210 N. Cayuga Street, Ithaca, NY 14850; or Donald W. & June B. Miller Family Scholarship at Cornell University, or mail to Cornell University, Box 37334, Boone, IA 50037-0334.

Services have been entrusted to Bangs Funeral Home, 209 W. Green Street, Ithaca, N.Y.       

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SERVICES Visitation

Saturday, November 13, 2021 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Bangs Funeral Home, Inc. 209 W Green St. Ithaca, New York 14850

Graveside Service

Sunday, November 14, 2021 2:00 PM

East Lawn Cemetery 934 Mitchell Street Ithaca, NY 14850

Celebration of Life

Sunday, November 14, 2021 3:00 PM

St. John's Episcopal Church 210 North Cayuga Street Ithaca, New York 14850

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