David Reuben Miller

Miller—David Reuben Miller, 79, on November 5, 2017, at home in Philadelphia, Pa., surrounded by loved ones, from complications of Parkinson’s Disease. Dave was born on December 22, 1937, in Middletown, N.Y., to Lillian Cohen and Benjamin Miller. He had one older brother. When he was a small boy, his family moved to a chicken farm in Norwich, Conn. Always one of the smartest guys in the room, he graduated from high school at 15 and attended Antioch College for several years before leaving to start a family. His job as a motorman gave him the first taste of what would become a lifelong passion: transit. He lived in Cleveland, Ohio, Evanston, Ill., and Baltimore, Md., before settling in Philadelphia, and he was an honorary citizen of Scranton, Pa.

While working as a bus driver and helping to raise his daughters, he took night classes to earn a bachelor’s degree from Temple University. After his master’s and doctorate in economics from Northwestern University, he taught economics for several years at Syracuse University. A year’s fellowship at the Brookings Institution researching mass transit for the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington, D.C. led to a storied career as a mass transit planner both in the United States and internationally. He retired as an assistant vice president at Parsons Brinckerhoff, a global planning and engineering firm.

A committed Quaker, he met his future wife, Mary Ellen McNish, at a Friends General Conference (FGC) annual gathering. His interest in numbers and logistics led to his tutoring his daughter in seventh grade algebra, serving as treasurer of Byberry Meeting in Philadelphia, and volunteering in many FGC planning and treasury roles. He was also politically active, volunteering as a driver for the Kerry and the Obama presidential campaigns. In his family, he was the go-to guy, the one who kept up with all of the relatives, no matter how far-flung they might be. He loved spending time with friends and family at Red Point on the Chesapeake Bay and in Brigantine, N.J. His strong belief in science led to participation in many research studies at the University of Pennsylvania Parkinson’s Center.

Flying, music, and humor were among his many interests. Most of his family and friends (and their friends, too) have fond memories of flying with him in his little Cessna or singing along with him to the songs of Tom Lehrer or Flanders and Swann. He would frequently whistle a favorite symphony or sing a song with clever lyrics and was known to break into spontaneous Marx Brothers or Three Stooges routines whenever the mood struck. All who knew and loved him will miss his smile, kindness, silly songs, love of pinochle, quirky sense of humor, and indomitable spirit.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Lillian and Benjamin Miller; his brother, Ephraim Miller; and one daughter, Nancee Lee Miller. He is survived by his loving wife, Mary Ellen McNish; three daughters, Susan Miller, Deborah Minske (Todd), and Glenna Harkins; one granddaughter; a niece; two nephews; several cousins; and many friends, including Stacey Flowers and Sharon Powell, who helped to care lovingly for him.


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