SUNY Canton Mourns the Passing of Richard W. Miller

Richard MillerProminent patron’s legacy lives on through memories of his generosity, dedication, and charisma.

One of the most well-respected and generous SUNY Canton faculty members in College history has passed away.

Distinguished Professor Emeritus and longstanding Foundation Board Member Richard W. Miller died earlier this morning (Friday, January 6, 2012) at his West Main Street home in Canton. He was 93 years old.

“Dick’s passing saddens me greatly,” said SUNY Canton President Joseph L. Kennedy. “In addition to being one of the most respected individuals at the College, he and his wife Irene were personal friends of my family. I’m certain many would join me in saying that their lives have been enriched through his friendship and ongoing dedication to the College and greater Canton Community.”

Mr. Miller began teaching at SUNY Canton (then known as the Agricultural and Technical Institute) on June 7, 1946. He was a professor and Department Chairman of the Electrical Engineering Technology Department. In 1975, he was named an Outstanding Educator in America and the year following he won the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.  In 1982, he received the SUNY Canton College Council’s Distinguished Faculty Award, and in 1990 the Council presented him with the Distinguished Citizen Award. He organized the SUNY Canton chapter of Tau Alpha Pi National Honor Society for Engineering Technology and was an esteemed advisor to the Alpha chapter of the Theta Gamma Fraternity. He retired in 1983.

Richard Miller

“Dick was one of the most influential faculty members to ever teach at SUNY Canton,” Kennedy said. “He assisted countless generations of successful graduates during his career. After he retired, he created scholarships to benefit incoming students. His legacy will live on across the campus.”

In 2003, Mr. Miller became the first donor in College history to make a million dollar donation to the SUNY Canton Foundation. His unrestricted donation led the college to name the then newly constructed campus center in his honor.

“I have had three loves of my life: The first, my wife Irene; the second, my family; and the third, this College,” Mr. Miller said at the Richard W. Miller Campus Center Dedication and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.

He followed his donation with an additional $50,000 gift to the College in honor of his longstanding friendship with the Kennedys in 2010. Combined with his annual scholarship, Mr. Miller donated more than $1.6 million to SUNY Canton.

“Mr. Miller’s profound impact on SUNY Canton can be seen from anywhere on campus,” said Director of Alumni and Development Peggy S. Levato. “His generosity allowed us to make immeasurable progress at the College. He gave his time and heart to this college and for that, we will forever be indebted to him.”

Many alumni and current students knew Mr. Miller through his frequent involvement in campus following his retirement. In the past year he was a guest of honor at the College’s Kingston Fireplace Dedication, Holiday Luncheon, Scholarship Luncheon, and Alumni Weekend Celebration, among others. He attended his 65th consecutive commencement ceremony in 2011.

Update (Monday, Jan 9): Calling hours are 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday, January 12, at Lawrence Funeral Home, 21 Park St., Canton, with a service at 10:30 a.m. Friday, January 13 at the First Presbyterian Church, 17 Park St., and a reception to follow at the Richard W. Miller Campus Center at SUNY Canton. A Masonic service will be held on Thursday 5:45 p.m. Interment will be in Evergreen Cemetery in the spring. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions in Richard’s name to the Canton Neighborhood Center, 5 West St., Canton Methodist Church Food Kitchen, or the Richard W. Miller Scholarship at SUNY Canton. Condolences may be sent to

A complete obituary submitted my Mr. Miller’s family can be viewed at

Please use the comments section below to share your memories and reflections.

Update (Saturday Jan. 7): SUNY Canton College Council Chair Ronald M. O’Neill’s Statement on the Passing of Richard W. Miller

“Yesterday, SUNY Canton lost a great friend.  Today, on behalf of the entire College Council, we mourn Dick’s passing and celebrate his life. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and many friends.”

“Dick was truly one of a kind.  His contributions to SUNY Canton and the community cannot be measured in mere dollars.  Teacher, mentor, friend, supporter, Dick was all these and much more. For more than six decades, Dick gave of his time, energy and money to ensuring SUNY Canton would continue to grow and flourish.”

“His dedication and fierce loyalty set a shining example for our campus and the greater North Country.  While we will miss his presence at events, and his wise counsel and wit, we know that his legacy at SUNY Canton is enduring, which is just the way he planned it.”


28 Responses to “SUNY Canton Mourns the Passing of Richard W. Miller”

  1. Meg Bernier Says:

    One of the highlights of my job was sitting next to Mr. Miller during the 2011 Commencement. It was the 65th straight commencement he had attended and he was beaming with pride for each student walking across the stage that day. This college meant the world to him, but the people at SUNY Canton – students, alumni, faculty and staff – meant even more. I had an intern who researched various Canton alumni for a project. As she read about Mr. Miller and all he had accomplished through his decades of work for the College, she gained an entirely new perspective on her education, SUNY Canton, and his impact on both. That’s who he was – an inspiration to everyone he met. May you rest in peace knowing you’ve changed the lives of many and left an impact on this institution even larger than we can comprehend.

  2. Jenn Alguire Fall 2003 Pi Nu Epsilon Says:

    Mr.Miller will be missed. He certaintly will be missed by his Family….his Brothers of Theta Gamma and his Sisters of Pi Nu Epsilon….. Thank you SIR for all you’ve done for us and SUNY Canton itself.

  3. Memorie Shampine Says:

    I always enjoyed when Mr Miller would come to the office to check the grades of his fraternity boys. He was a joy to talk to. I will miss his visits!

  4. Thomas Hamberger Says:

    Mr. Miller was one of the greatest men I’ve known from SUNY Canton. He was a father to all the brothers of Alpha Theta Gamma and we will miss him dearly. No one will ever be able to replace his kind heart and the thirst for knowledge.

  5. Bruce Hanson Says:

    Mr. miller was a professor of mine when I graduated from SUNY canton in 1981. I learned more than just electricity from him. He taught me many lessons about life as well that have helped me tremendously. He always remembered me when we had chance meetings in the community and would ask how I was doing. I have come full circle now and teach at Canton. I only hope that I can follow in his footsteps and impact students’ lives in a positive way.

    To Mr. Miller’s family,
    Thank you so much for sharing such a caring individual with us here at SUNY Canton.

  6. Jim Yerdon Says:

    Mr. Miller was involved in every event that I can remember since starting school at Canton in 1989. He deserves all the nice things that people say about him and has earned the respect of all the people that had the privelage of meeting him. As a member of Zeta Alpha Phi, I admire all that he did for his brothers of Alpha Theta Gamma. They were blessed to have him as a brother and all of us were blessed to be a part of his life. To his family, thank you for sharing him with all of us.

  7. Brenda Carpenter-Waldron Says:

    Words can not express the sadness so many of us are feeling since hearing the news today. Mr. Miller was a man who was respected and loved by so many. His legacy of love, wisdom and unconditional faith in his “boys” and his “girls” will carry on with each one of us. He was my brother, a mentor and a early morning coffee buddy when I came back to visit. Thank you for your unconditional support, your shoulder and your wisdom. When Mr. Krag passed, you helped look after his girls. Pi Nu will forever be in your debt. Gone, but you will never be forgotten. Rest easy my brother! L.I.T.B Sister Sweet and Low. Fall 88 Alpha proud.

  8. Cherilyn Bush Says:

    A heart of gold stopped beating, two shining eyes at rest, God broke our hearts to prove, He only takes the best. Rest in Peace Mr Miller. Thank you for everything you taught us, and your unconditional love. You will be greatly missed LITB <3

  9. Michael Gordon Says:

    As a young faculty member to the college faculty hired back in 1969, Dick took me under “his wing” and mentored me. Although in an entirely different academic field it did not matter to him. We worked for several years with the young men of Alpha Theta Gamma and being by his side, one could not but help to pick up valuable lessons of life and how to live it. He will be greatly missed. He was a truly outstanding friend and colleague.

  10. doug dean fall 03 alpha theta gamma Says:

    As a Theta Gamma brother Mr. Miller taught me, and all of our brothers and sisters about life love and friendship. His knowledge, wisdom and kindness was endless. He will be greatly missed. F.I.T.B.

  11. SunShine Says:

    Mr. Miller was more than an advisor to all of us Brothers of theta Gamma. He was a older Brother who truly cared about us and the fraternitys future. He advanced me into my journey into Masonery and when he did he told me that you could compare Masonery to Theta Gamma like the Cub Scouts to the Boy Scouts. How right he was.

  12. Mary Blazine Says:

    The last time I saw Dick he was on a stick at his grandaughter Westra’s wedding last year. He was unable to attend so daughter Cheryl had a life size photo of him on a stick. He was seen in every picture, greeted everyone as they came into the reception and he even stood guard at the beach where our reserved spot was for the island fete. I really only knew him through his daughters, who’s generosity, kindness, amazing creativity, wit and community activism continues to astound me. I am so grateful to Irene and Dick for all they have given to this world and their legacy continues through these amazing women who are true gifts to the communities where they reside. My head understands your deep loss, but my heart knows only the unconditional love that lives on and on. All my love, Mary Blazine

  13. nichole leclair Says:

    Mr Miller was a man who will not ever be forgotten. His love for life and his role in your life is not something that can be shared with words. If you knew Mr Miller you were a very lucky person. He was always willing to hear every side of every story and was always fair in his judgement. He was a mentor to my brothers of Theta Gamma and also my sisters of Pi Nu Epsilon. When speaking to him you may not have thought about what lessons he was teaching but those lessons would later help us succeed in the paths we chose to take after SUNY Canton. Thank you for caring and also being there to share your knowledge and experiences with us Mr Miller. You may be gone from our lifes but you will never be gone from our hearts or our memories. LITB <3 Nichole Besaw LeClair, Pi Nu FAll 95

  14. Cynthia Haaf-Murphy Says:

    I’m deeply saddened to hear about the passing of this iconic man. My deepest sympathies to his family as well as his Alpha Theta Gamma family as well.
    Cynthia Haaf-Murphy
    AXO, Fall 1986

  15. Michael J. Murphy Says:

    Little did I know that the servo and machines fundamentals that Miller taught me in 1976 would play such a pivotal role in developing driverless test vehicles at Chrysler in the 1990’s. He was a legend even then, and highly respected by everyone.

    Murphy EET Class of 77

  16. Ernie Tresidder Says:

    Under Mr. Miller’s direction with his vision the Electrical Engineering Technology program at Canton has produced many very talented and committed professionals. We have many of those professionals working here at Novelis (formally Alcan) which are a product of Mr. Miller’s dedication to his field and the Canton SUNY system. His work ethic and commitment to technology excellence will be missed by those who had the opportunity learn from him.

  17. Brad Penman Says:

    I graduated class of ’82. Mr. Miller WAS one of those professors you deeply admired and respected both as an educator and person. He was THE major influence for me to graduate Electrical Technology from Canton, and continue to get my Bachelor’s from RIT.

  18. Robert Buck Says:

    I still have profound memories of Professor Miller. As a 19 year old college student he helped me realize the value and importance of hard work, setting priorities and learning. At one point doubted I could complete the EET program. Yet he maintained confidence in me, after graduating from Canton I later completed BS and MS degrees. I can recall few professors that cared for his students at much as Richard. But will always remember my time at Canton and Richard Miller. I recall hoisting a beer with him and fellow seniors at the hoot owl. That was just the kind of close knit place Canton is.

    Rob Buck EET class of 1982

  19. Bob Mucica Says:

    I will always remember Richard Millere as an outstanding instructor, and a really funny guy. He also helped me personally getting ready my career. I remember how happy we were to see him stopping to pick us up on the way to school on those very cold winter monings. Such a credit to SUNY Canton. Bob Mucica, Class of 1956

  20. Michael OBrien '66 Says:

    So sad to here of Dick’s passing.I will always remember visiting him at his house on Main,and going over memories with him,and his many classes I had with him.

  21. Richard T. Briggs Says:

    I attended Canton ATI from 1956 to 1958 and had the privilege to attending Professors Miller’s classes in electrical technology. I was a mechanical drafting design major and did know the difference between a volt and an ampere, but when I walked out of his clases or lab I was inspired by what I had learned. After ATI I went on to pursue my four degree in mechanical engineering. Throughout my high school, two years at ATI, and four years at Syracuse University I have not met a met an educator more dedicated to the profession of education than Professor Miller. If there was a hall of fame for educators he would be my first choise. But more than an educator he was a humanitarian, he cared about his students and how they were doing during school and after graduation. I remember vividly during alumni reunions “Dick” Miller as we new him after graduation would come over and sit down with you to see how you were doing. We would reminisce about the past a bit but he was always interested in exploring your present and future. This is the true character of the man; he had an in sensational desire to know you were doing well, just a great quality of a human person.
    To Professor Emeritus Richard W. Miller family and friends my sincere condolences, we have lost a very gifted educator and humanitarian, but his legacy will live on in the students he taught and the mentoring he provided them. God bless you all.

    Richard T. Briggs Class of 1958

  22. Howie Nisbet Says:

    Like so many other thousands down thru the years, I had the pleasure of Mr. Miller from 1973-1975 in his role at Theta Gamma Advisor. Has been about 8 years since my last trip thru Canton, but I was fortunate enough at that time to see Mr. Miller. It was a wonderful 20 minute mini reunion chat. To those of you that had the privledge to be around him for years and to his daughters I send along the most heartfelt thoughts, prayers and condolences. To all my TG Brothers, we can only hope to try to live up to the standard that was set for us and that he is holding the gates open for us when we get to meet him once again. For sure there is another Angel up there looking down on us and watching out for us, as only Richard Miller could.

    Howie Nisbet, Fall 1973

  23. Richard D. Spooner Says:

    From 1945 to 1947 I attended Canton ATI and am proud to say that I attended Professor Miller’s first class he ever taught at ATI. Some of these classes were conducted on the old campus in the big old barn and conditions weren’t the greatest but he did an admirable job. He became an educator’s educator and above all he used “tender loving care”to make sure we excelled to be the best we could be as his students. I had kept in touch with him infrequently through all of these years. However a couple of years ago, when I attended a 60 year home-coming , he walked up to me and said “hello Dick ,nice to see you again”. He was not only a great person ,educator and mentor but also had a hell of a great memory.
    God bless you Dick Miller. I will not only miss you but am proud that I knew you.

    Dick Spooner, class of 1947

  24. Richard Gummer Says:

    As a 1978 graduate, I had the pleasure of being taught by Mr. Miller on several occasions. He was a large influence to me as all these years later I am working as Sr. Manager of Engineering for Baxter BioScience and still love the field of Engineering…as did Mr. Miller. My condolences to his family.

  25. Larry Roth A.A.S. ET 64' Says:

    I remember Prof Miller very well way back in the early 60’s. I remember our Elec. Tech. classes were on the old campus that eventually became part of SLU. Our ET class started with 50 students in the fall of 62′ and graduated 25. Mr. Miller undoutedly was a positive influence in my Electrical Engineering career and will always have fond memories of my time at ATI in Canton.

  26. Chris mowry Says:

    My condolences to Mr. Millers family and those who were closest to him. Like so many others that have commented here, he has had a tremendous impact on my life. I attended Canton from 80-82. Mr Miller was our advisor at Alpha Theta Gamma. He was a great teacher and mentor and quite possibly the most patient man I’ve ever known. I met him a few years ago at a reunion and the photo I took with him sits on my desk. Im honored to have known such a great man.

  27. John DeMar (EET '79) Says:

    It is sad to hear of Dick Miller’s passing, but it is a joy to know he lived a long and happy life. I have fond memories of Mr. Miller’s classes (especially motors and servomechanisms) and still have the books he authored on related subjects. As a part-time EET instructor now in New Mexico, I think of Mr. Miller often, how he was always helpful to students and made things interesting. My condolences to all who were close to him.

  28. Joseh A. Synowski Says:

    I take the liberty on behalf of the Brothers of Alpha Theta Gamma from the Class of 1968 to express our Deepest Condolences and Sympathy to the Family of Mr. Richard W. Miller.
    During the few years that we knew him he was not only a counselor to our fraternity, but was also an “Away from Home Father “to many of us. His direction and guidance will never be forgotten and we will be forever grateful.
    Joseph A. Synowski
    Alpha Theta Gamma President, ‘68

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