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Charles Miller


1934 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Charles Miller Obituary
Charles Miller
1934-2017
Charles Miller, well-known Houston businessman, civic leader, loyal and dearly loved friend to many, passed away on Wednesday, the 6th of December 2017, in Houston, Texas, surrounded by family and friends after a six-year battle with cancer.
Charles was born in Galveston, Texas on the 13th of February 1934, to Sam and Rose Cohen Miller. He graduated from Ball High School in Galveston, served in the U.S. Navy, and graduated from The University of Texas-Austin with a B.A. in mathematics in 1959. Charles was always proud of his status as "born on the island."
Charles was gifted with a powerful intellect and a hunger to use it to change the world for the better. While at Texas, he was on the U.T. Bridge Team, captained an intramural national championship and was designated a Life Master by the American Contract Bridge League. After graduate studies in mathematics and statistics in Austin, Charles worked as an Investment Officer at the Texas Teacher Retirement Fund before moving to Houston to work as a portfolio manager for Funds, Inc., which later became Criterion Investment Management Company. Charles executed one of the first known leveraged buy-outs in 1977, and built Criterion Group into a diversified, national investment management organization, which at one point in the 1980s was the largest independent private account investment management company in the country. Criterion became a publicly-traded company in 1986 and was acquired by Transamerica Corporation in 1991, with Charles continuing to serve as President until he retired in 1994 to pursue new business opportunities and various personal interests. Charles subsequently was founder and chairman of Meridian Advisors, and Medallion Investment Management Company in New Mexico. Legions of former partners and employees of the investment companies are proud to have known Charles as friend and mentor.
Charles was a strong believer in the essential value of public education and saw early that in Texas it was dysfunctional, limited upward mobility and threatened economic opportunity. He worked tirelessly for decades to improve educational results for students and parents. He advised Texas Governors including William P. Clements, Mark White, Ann Richards, George W. Bush and Rick Perry on education reform. He partnered with H. Ross Perot to author a reform package in 1984 that, among less notable but more important reforms, included the "no pass, no play" rule. His work with Gov. Bush produced sweeping educational accountability reforms in Texas that later became the blueprint for landmark federal "No Child Left Behind" legislation. He was an early advocate and promoter of Texas charter school initiatives. Charles served as Chairman of the Board of Regents of the University of Texas System 2001-04 and piloted historic reform of higher education funding through the Texas Legislature. He also served as Chairman of the U.S. Secretary of Education's Commission on the Future of Higher Education 2005-06. He was an advisory council member of The University of Texas System Institute for Public School Initiatives, Teach for America and the World Affairs Council.
His other activities have spanned a very broad range. Charles has recently served on the Advisory Board for Education at the Bush Institute in Dallas and the Texas Heart Institute Foundation Board in Houston. He was Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Directors of the Greater Houston Partnership, and served on the boards of the Governor's Business Council, the James B. Hunt, Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy, the Charter School Policy Institute and the Texas Medical Center.
Charles was a pioneer in advocating the benefits of diversity and inclusion, and was recognized for his leadership in civic and business activities by the University of St. Thomas Center for Business Ethics. He was also recognized by the American Leadership Forum; Downtown Houston Association; Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; the Committee for Multicultural Education and Counseling through the Arts; National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine; Neighborhood Centers; Texas Monthly magazine; and the United Negro College Fund.
As an extension of their personal commitment to revitalization of communities as catalysts for positive change in the world, Charles and his wife Beth founded and chaired The Center for the Study of Community at their Santa Fe residence, Sol y Sombra, a frequent meeting place for political leaders, philosophers, scientists and citizen activists, including the Dalai Lama, to come together to advance community initiatives. At their compound in Santa Fe, Charles and Beth were practitioners and promoters of sustainable agriculture in cultivating the high, arid American Southwest, known as permaculture. They created and produced a major exhibit on permaculture at the Chelsea Flower Show in London in 2002 and were recognized with a silver medal.
Charles Miller is survived by his loving wife of 48 years, Roxibeth Birdwell Miller; daughter Mary Lynn Patton, Ph.D.; son, Dr. Robert H. Patton and wife, Christine; brother Harry G. Miller; sister Dorothy Borel; nephew and nieces, Warren Cravey; Samantha Miller; Londa Cravey; Lorene Cravey; Cheryl Sloniger and Christine Tillman; granddaughter Merritt Patton Moses; grandsons Kyle Patton and future bride Karen Wilson; Ben Patton and wife, Mary; and great-granddaughter Violet Patton.
The family would like to extend their heartfelt gratitude to the many caregivers as well as Dr. Vivek Subbiah and Dr. David Hong for their care and attentiveness during his illness.
A memorial service is to be conducted at eleven o'clock in the morning on Monday, the 11th of December, in the Jasek Chapel of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston. Immediately following, all are invited to greet the family during a reception to be held in the adjacent grand foyer.
In lieu of customary remembrances, memorial contributions, in Charles' honor, may be directed toward the University Of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Clinical Center for Targeted-Therapy, 1515 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX 77030; which Charlie loved and which loved him back.
Published in Houston Chronicle from Dec. 7 to Dec. 10, 2017
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