In Memory

Thomas L 'Tom' Miller - Class Of 1939

Thomas L 'Tom' Miller

FAYETTEVILLE — Dr. Tom Miller died Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at Washington Regional Medical Center. Born Thomas Logsdon Miller on October 4, 1921 in Cincinnati, Ohio, Tom spent until age six in Miami, Florida. It was while here that his first fascination with nature was born. He became passionate about seeds and collected them carefully, labeling them accurately with both their lay and Latin names.

At age six, his parents William Townshend Miller and Lucy K. Logsdon Miller moved to South Pasadena in Southern California which offered him another opportunity to expand his passion for nature and to take it in another direction entirely. He became interested in Ornithology, the study of birds, and poured a tremendous amount of time and energy into the pursuit of this subject. So much so, that by age 13 he was speaking to ladies groups about the various birds of Southern California and was quite in demand because of his vast knowledge and willingness to share. During this time he began collecting the eggs and nests of the various birds of Southern California, until he amassed a vast collection that was ultimately donated to the University of California at Los Angeles in 1960.

By the time he was in high school in the late 1930s, Tom was a member of the Cooper Club, the predecessor of the modern Audubon Society. During this period he worked in conjunction with other members to capture and tag the last remaining California Condors which had dwindled to some seventeen. He was instrumental within this group in assuring that this magnificent bird did not pass into extinction and it now flourishes in such places as the Grand Canyon due to these extreme efforts.

During his tenure at South Pasadena High School, while always an excellent student, he also had time to play tennis which he enjoyed tremendously. One of his dear friends and often a companion on the court was the late, tennis great, Jack Kramer. They grew up not far from one another and their love of tennis was a shared delight.

Tom graduated from South Pasadena High School in 1939 and progressed to Pomona College often called the Harvard of the West. This small college was the ideal setting for Tom and he used it to the best of his ability. He graduated in 1943 with a B.S. in Zoology with a perfect grade point average.

During this period of time there was a great deal of upheaval in the world with war waging in much of it. Although Tom had originally planned a life of study in the world of birds, it became clear that this would not be possible. He was soon identified by the Navy V-12 Program as someone that they wished to have in their midst. The V-12 Program identified the best and the brightest, and fostered their education so that they could be best used in the war effort. To that end, from 1943-1946 Tom was on active duty as an Apprentice Seaman, United States Naval Reserve while attending Medical School at the University of Southern California.

In 1947 he graduated from USC Medical School and joined active duty as Lt. Junior Grade. From July 1947-October 1948 he was the staff physician at the United States Naval Hospital in Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, California. In 1949 he was assigned as the Medical Officer for the Destroyer Division 32 (later redesignated Destroyer Division 102). During his time with the Destroyer Division he traveled to Japan and China before returning through the Panama Canal to Newport, Rhode Island where he was discharged to inactive duty in the summer of 1949.

July 1949-July 1952 Tom fulfilled his residency in Internal Medicine at United States Veterans Administration Wadsworth Hospital in Los Angeles, California. It was during the early days of this time that he met and then married his wife, Lois Ann Nelson who was a Registered Nurse at the same hospital.

From 1952-1961 Tom served as Assistant Chief of Admissions and Out Patient Services at Wadsworth Hospital. In 1955 he passed his written Specialty Boards and in 1957 he passed his oral exam and was confirmed as a Specialist in Internal Medicine. By this time he and Lois had two children, Lucy and Jim. With their welfare in mind, Tom and Lois moved from Southern California to Fayetteville, Arkansas in 1961. This move allowed him to continue his work at the Veterans Administration Hospital and in 1964 he was named Chief of Medicine, a job he performed until his early retirement in January 1977. For many reasons, he returned to the position in April 1979 as a retired annuitant and performed the function of Chief of Medicine until April 1984 when he retired for the last time.

He is preceded in death by his parents, William T. and Lucy L. Miller and his son, James Nelson Miller.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Lois Nelson Miller; his daughter, Lucy Miller Bugea, two granddaughters, Carolyn Miller Braden and Jennifer Braden Munson, and one great-granddaughter, Lola Rose Munson.

Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, August 27, 2009