MILLER, J. NEAL (1926 ~ 2008). The following is an obituary for Joseph Neal Miller, distinguished public servant. The obituary was published in the Austin American-Statesman.
"Joseph Neal Miller, Jr. died peacefully at home surrounded by his loving family on January 16, 2008 following a courageous final battle with congestive heart failure. He was almost 82. Neal was born January 18, 1926 in Orange, Texas to Joseph Neal Miller, Sr. and Myrl Nance Miller who predeceased him along with his sister Mollie Mryl Pachar and late wife Jeanne Terrill Miller.
From winning the golden gloves championship in high school to becoming the last pilot to fly the B-29 for a Discovery Wings documentary, Neal's life was full of variety and achievement.
Following graduation from Orange High School in 1942 he entered Texas Agricultural & Mechanical College. In January, 1944 World War II was raging, and his entire class at A & M volunteered to serve. After months of training Neal landed on Utah Beach with the Fourth Infantry Division. Surviving the D Day Invasion, he fought on through the Liberation of Paris and into Belgium where he was severely wounded near Aachen. Thanks to Army doctors, both legs were saved after spending months in traction in a hospital in Illinois. Finally Neal returned home to Orange after the war's end just in time to re-enter A & M rejoining the Corps and was commanding officer of C Troop Cavalry. In 1949 Neal graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering (Class of '46) and was designated a Distinguished Military Student. Later on he became an Emeritus member of the Mays College of Business Administration Development Council and served as Chief Judge of the Master of Business Administration Case Competition.
After graduating from A & M Neal decided he would prefer to further serve his country in the air rather than on the ground and received a Regular Commission in the US Air Force. After flight training at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, he was sent to Enid, OK for advance training where he flew B-25 Mitchell bombers. He received his wings in 1950 and was assigned to Strategic Air Command 22nd Bomb group in California. In June the Korean Conflict began, and Neal was based in Kadena, Okinawa. During the war Neal piloted B-29s commanding a crew of ten in almost 60 sorties and bombing missions. Neal was dubbed 'Red Bird' due to his red hair and ruddy complexion which remained a part of his looks forever.
On June 11, 1951 Neal married Jeanne Terrill whom he had met in Orange. The couple began more than 50 wonderful years of marriage, moving to March Air Force Base in Riverside, CA. Three months later Neal entered the United States Air Force Institute of Technology in Ohio graduating With Distinction with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering. He was assigned to Bell Aircraft Corporation in NY working with air to ground missiles.
Deciding to become an entrepreneur in family businesses, Neal resigned his commission in 1953 and returned to Orange. He became a member of Orange Rotary Club and was elected president the next year, and in 1956 he was elected District Governor of Rotary International. During the next few years, he was elected Mayor of Orange and President of Orange Chamber of Commerce. Thus began Neal's dedication to taking an active part in community affairs.
In 1966 Neal sold all of his business enterprises and came on board with Gulf Oil Corporation as Labor Negotiator at the refinery in Port Arthur thereby beginning his long and distinguished career in the oil and gas industry. During his tenure with Gulf, he was promoted to numerous executive Public Relations positions in Philadelphia, PA, Atlanta, GA and Pittsburgh, PA and Houston. In the early seventies Neal was loaned by Gulf to the Nixon administration to assist in the development of the Revenue Sharing Program. He was later loaned to U. S. Secretary of Treasury John Connally to work to control inflation. In 1974 Neal was named a vice president of Gulf managing all public affairs in the US. Later Chevron Oil Company bought Gulf, and the Miller family moved to Austin.
During his tenure with Chevron Neal helped maintain a good business climate in Texas becoming a familiar figure in the halls of the State and National Capitols assisting in the crafting of many important pieces of legislation. Through the Texas State Preservation Board he raised money to preserve the 'Capitol Oaks' by moving them to another location on the Capitol grounds; additionally he arranged for the 'Goddess of Liberty' which adorned the Capitol for 97 years to be preserved. Neal retired from Chevron at age 73, the oldest employee in the entire corporation. Even in retirement he continued to serve as a consultant to Chevron and also the Aviation and Space Industry.
In 1999 Neal founded the Aviation & Space Foundation of Texas to establish scholarship in natural sciences. He designed the license plate commemorating the doomed flight of the Columbia Space Shuttle; it can be purchased from the Texas Department of Transportation with a portion of the proceeds going to the Foundation.
Neal served his profession in numerous industry groups, including former directorships in Texas Manufacturers Association and Texas Oil & Gas Association. He served in the National Oil & Gas Association and was appointed to the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners, all for many years.
Public service memberships included Rotary Club of Austin (recently inducted into the International Rotary Hall of Fame), Texas State Chamber of Commerce, Friends of the Texas State Cemetery and Confederate Air Force (honorary Colonel) as well as former directorships of the Austin Symphony Orchestra, Texas Good Roads Association and Texas Rangers Association.
Neal was a member of the Austin Club (Director), Headliners Club, Westwood Country Club, Knights of the Symphony, The Dance Club, English Speaking Union, Friends of the LBJ Library, Order of Daedalians and UT's SAGE program where he recently organized an Energy seminar, giving two of the six lectures himself.
During the summer of 2005 Neal began seeing Katherine Sellers Patman, a widow. They married July 22, 2006 in Austin blending two Austin families.
Neal was a devoted and loving husband, father, grandfather, stepfather and step-grandfather, and he was deeply loved and admired by all of his family. With his young family you could find him camping out or skiing whenever possible. He was an avid outdoorsman who went on many a fishing trip from the Texas coast to Alaska or on hunting trips, sometimes organizing them for clients and friends. In his spare time you could find him at his cottage in Rockport fishing off the pier with his 'Cedars' friends or boating on Lake Austin. Sundays would find him at Tarrytown Methodist Sunday School Faith Class, and during the week he exercised with friends at the 'Y.' Neal had learned carpentry from his grandfather in his teens and could build most anything, and if there were an electrical problem, he could fix it. His first wife was an acclaimed artist, and as he watched her paint, he also began painting as well as sculpting, spending hours in his studio creating.
Neal was as equally at ease with politicians and astronauts as he was with children, often welcoming his grandchildren who affectionately called him 'Papa' and their friends into his home at any hour of the day or night and occasionally speaking about planes at his younger grandson's school. He was 'Neal' to his two step-granddaughters who readily gave him hugs. Soft spoken, intuitive, wise and possessing of a quick wit and positive attitude, he never met a person he did not like. He was a loyal Aggie, and he never forgot his Orange roots. Neal made a lasting impression on his family and friends who will dearly miss him.
He is survived by three children with Jeanne: daughter Mollie Puckett and husband Neal of Austin; son Joseph Neal Miller, III (Rusty) and wife Wanda of New Orleans and her son Nicholas; and daughter Rebecca Hlavinka and husband Hank of East Bernard; and five grandchildren Rebecca Miller Garcie and husband Jeff, Mollie Miller, Hal Hlavinka, Lindsay Hlavinka, and Adam Puckett. He is also survived by his wife Katherine and stepson Philip Patman, Jr. and wife Karina of Singapore and stepdaughter Kay Vesely and husband Greg of Austin, and two step-granddaughters Kaylee Vesely and Annabelle Patman.
The family wishes to thank housekeeper Camy Medina, as well as Dr. David L. Morris, Cardiologist with Austin Heart, Hospice Nurse Shelley Baker, and Caregivers Sandra Trevino and Michelle Vallejo and their associates.
Funeral services, under the direction of Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home will be held at The Texas State Cemetery Sunday, January 20 at 3:00 p.m., John R. 'Pete' Hendrick, Professor Emeritus at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, officiating. Neal will be buried with full military honors as befits a decorated American patriot. A reception follows at the Visitor Center Reception Rooms.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Austin Symphony Orchestra (1101 Red River; Austin 78701), Rotary Club of Austin Scholarship Foundation (304 East 7th Street; Austin 78701), J N Miller, Jr. 'The Bomber' Scholarship Fund (St. Francis School; 300 E. Huntland Drive; Austin 78752) or to a charity of your choice."
Further information is available through the Texas State Cemetery reserch department.