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Stine & McClure Chapel
3235 GILLHAM PLZ
KANSAS CITY, MO 64109
(816) 931-7777

JAMES LUDLOW MILLER


1924 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences
JAMES LUDLOW MILLER Obituary
James Ludlow Miller, son of the late Col. Jo Zach Miller III and Lena Ludlow Miller, crossed over into the Lord's keeping on 4 February 2014. He was born in Kansas City, Missouri on June 10, 1924, and resided in the same house in the Rockhill Historic District all of his life until the frailty of age and complications of post- polio syndrome caused him to transfer to the loving care of Bishop Spencer Place. He said that he attended seriatim Notre Dame de Sion, Saint James, Saint Francis Xavier, and Visitation elementary schools, gloating that he was expelled or that he ran away from each. He graduated from Rockhurst High School and then Rockhurst College, concentrating in English and Classics. He read and wrote Latin and Greek, spoke Spanish, and understood French. Throughout his life he continued to read Medieval and Renaissance European history, savoring the sordid details of palace intrigues. He earned his Masters of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin in 1950; he relished tutoring the "football gladiators" in English grammar and usage. From 1950 until his retirement in 1989 he worked at Commerce Bank (where his grandfather and father had also worked) fascinated especially by his work with government and municipal bonds. For the ensuing decades he continued to maintain an office in the bank. Mr. Miller's civic life centered on the arts, education, and historic preservation, most notably at the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Rockhurst University, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and the Rockhill Neighborhood. He served the Friends of Art at the Museum as membership chair (quadrupling the membership), as president, and also, for twenty-five years, as founder and supervisor of the Rozzelle Court restaurant. He was the longest serving Mary-Atkins trustee, some twenty-three years; with the late David A. Stickelber he founded and sustained the Mary Atkins Lecture Series for a decade. He was a loyal alumnus of Rockhurst University, where he helped fund a scholarship for students in the Humanities. At UMKC he helped start the Friends of the Library and served as that organization's program chair and president. For his historic Rockhill Neighborhood he founded its Homes Association and led it for some thirty years, using his subtle and forceful diplomatic skills to win every battle against the Great Powers that tried to encroach on the neighborhood's safety and integrity. For eight years, under Mayor Dr. Charles Wheeler, he served on the Municipal Arts Commission. His grandfather Jo Zach Miller, Jr. having helped start the Tenth Federal Reserve District and having built the original bank building at 9th and Walnut, Mr. Miller maintained a lively interest in the Bank and provided it with many documents and artifacts as it was erecting its new facility at 26th and Main Streets. Mr. Miller's memberships included the Kansas City Country Club, the Rockhill Tennis Club, the University Club, the Kansas City Athletic Club, the Society of Fellows of the Nelson-Atkins Museum, the honorary directors of Rockhurst University, the Chancellors Club at the University of Texas, the Sons of the Revolution, The Rockhill Homes Association, and his fraternity Phi Kappa Sigma. His sports included tennis, swimming, and golf: as a teenager he ranked first in Kansas City in tennis; as an adult he played golf twice weekly at the Kansas City Country Club and swam three times a week at the Kansas City Athletic Club. Until his last few weeks he worked out daily at the gym at Bishop Spencer Place. Most remarkable about Mr. Miller's athletic life is that he overcame a near fatal bout of bulbar polio at the age of 16 in 1940; he spent two years in hospitals, including time in Warm Springs, Georgia, when President Franklin Roosevelt was there; it was the "radical" Sister Kenney in Minneapolis who, against all odds, taught him to walk again. So well did he walk that few people even knew of his handicap until his last years. He was a miracle. Called "The Count" because of his Old World grace and sophistication, Mr. Miller was known as a charming wit and raconteur; in his cultivated British-seeming accent he brought historic and family and gossipy stories alive. As a frequent traveler abroad he brought back stories from pre-Castro Cuba, post-War Japan, ancient Egypt; from France, Italy, Germany. For two decades, with his wife and one or more of their children he spent every New Years' variously in Venice, Ravenna, Rome, Florence, Wiesbaden -- attending concerts and visiting museums every day. Just as he travelled off- season to Europe, so he spent the hottest weeks of each year at the beach in Florida, hosting children, grandchildren, and their close friends. Much as he enjoyed banking, civic life, and travel, Mr. Miller's main joy was in his family and in his home. A devoted father, he trained his children carefully in responsible behavior, skillfully using good example and rewards to make work seem interesting and even fun. For example, every Saturday he worked alongside them on their chores (cleaning the pet-desecrated basement, raking under the bushes, painting out the graffiti with which they had decorated their rooms) and then rewarded them with a trip to Winstead's. Mr. Miller is survived by his wife Patricia Cleary Miller, their son JoZach James Miller (Peter Bali) of Budapest; their daughters Honour Miller (Victor Davila) and Marika Ivanko (Dallas); six grandchildren: Caitlin Alexis Cole, Ross James Myers, Helena Ariel Myers, Fiona Isabella Davila, Mason James Ivanko, and Lily Marie Ivanko; and his devoted friend Fred Henry Stimpson. He leaves his nieces Anne Norquist Patterson (Craig) and Ellen Norquist Sudduth; his nephew Elliot (Caroline) Norquist; his great nephews Eric (Megan), Mark, and Andrew Patterson, Fred Norquist, Michael, Jacob and Zackery Gufler; his great niece Natalie Van Leeuwen. He also leaves his sisters-in-law Cathy Cleary Hagman (Bob Riesenberg) and Joanie Cleary (Don McClintock) and his brother-in-law John Gladden Cleary (Elaine), and their children: Bonnie Hagman Gufler (Jeffery), Kara Hagman Van Leeuwen (Shawn), Kime McClintock and Daniel McClintock; and the Rush family including step-brothers Richard and John, step-sisters Elizabeth and Catherine, and their families. Besides his parents, Mr. Miller was predeceased by his sister Helena Miller Norquist (Elliot), his brother Jo Zach Miller IV (Emma and Virginia), his nephew Jon Norquist, his niece Alissa Hagman, and his parents-in-law John and Helen Cleary. The family thanks the wise and loving staff at Bishop Spencer Place for helping Mr. Miller thrive in safety and contentment during his last years. Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday 7 February at Stine & McClure's Chapel, 3235 Gilham Plaza, where the Rosary will be said at 6 p.m. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. on Saturday 8 February at Saint Paul's Episcopal Church, 4041 Main Street. Burial at Saint Mary's Cemetery, 23rd and Indiana in the O'Rourke family plot. Memorial gifts may be made to the Friends of Chamber Music or to the Nelson Gallery Foundation. D
Published in Kansas City Star from Feb. 5 to Feb. 7, 2014
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