Fredric Miller was a big man, drawing attention wherever he went with his commanding presence. But this was quickly forgotten as he got down to your level and showed unending interest in you. He had an innate ability to really listen and ask poignant questions, which made you feel heard and seen. To know Fred was to be impacted by him as he offered you his insight and pushed you to go beyond the boundaries of yourself though you would never realize what he had done until later. He was immensely loved by his family and will be forever missed.
Fred is survived by his wife, Marilyn; three daughters, Michelle Cole and her husband David, Renee Lehr and her husband Bob, Lisa Falvey and her husband Patrick; eight grandchildren; one grandson-in-law; and one great-grandson, his namesake, Fred.
Fred was born on Feb. 27, 1938 in Baltimore, Maryland. He spent his childhood traveling the country with his parents as his father performed as pianist in The Tunesmen. He wound up at St. Paul’s Academy for Boys in Baltimore where he spent his summers teaching grade schoolboys how to swim. He would swim upstream from the boys so he would get stung by the jellyfish instead of them, which is so very Fred.
Fred would attend The University of Maryland where he met his future wife, Marilyn, at the age of 19. Neither of them was prepared for a serious romance so they agreed to date other people, but they could never seem to stay away from one another. They graduated in June of 1961 and in August the Berlin Wall was erected, changing the course of their lives. He was immediately drafted and told that he had two weeks to report as a buck private in the Army. He quickly applied for Officer’s Training School in the Air Force and six weeks later Fred and Marilyn were married. Though becoming an officer would require an additional two years beyond the requirement, they agreed that under no circumstances would they commit to more than four years.
Thirty years later he retired after a successful and very rewarding military career where he attained the rank of colonel and was awarded his own wing, the 486th Tactical Missile Wing in Woensdrecht, The Netherlands. During his 30-year career Fred and Marilyn moved 18 times and became parents to three beautiful daughters. They lived in and visited many foreign countries and had many, many adventures. They endured numerous separations and learned to live on their own (but hated it). When Fred was later asked how he and Marilyn had successfully stayed together for 59 years he replied, “Love, respect, laughter, laughing at and with each other, laughing at our troubles, and laughing when our adventures went awry.”
After retirement in 1992, Fred began his second career as an artist in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He had been sketching and drawing since he was a boy and now had time to pursue it more seriously. He took classes, went to workshops, and studied well-known artists. He had clear talent and over the course of his career was accepted into national shows, won numerous awards, and was President of the New Mexico Pastel Society. The City of Albuquerque purchased one of his landscapes which hangs today in the New Mexico Plein Air Museum. He also started the Artist’s Studio which had space for 13 artists to have studios as well as an area for teaching classes and holding exhibitions. He loved the studio and made many dear friends there. In Port Townsend his work was shown in the Northwind Art Gallery and in March 2020 they held a retrospective of his work, which thrilled him.
Fred was adventurous, loved to travel, and had to know everything about a topic before he would get involved. Consequently, he was always in the middle of a book (before the internet of course) with such varied topics as buying a house, learning to scuba dive, training a dog, fly-fishing, camping, hiking, and on and on. Consequently, he leaves behind a huge collection of art and fly-fishing books, which were his true passions.
Fred died on Dec. 5, 2020 surrounded by the chatter, laughter, and tears of everyone in his family as they joined via FaceTime. He suffered from Lewy Body Dementia for five years which eventually took his life.
Fred was a true friend and had a genuine love for people. He would notice the beauty in everyone, often making you stop and recognize beauty you had not noticed before. He was constantly asking his family, “What color do you see there?” and simple answers such as “blue and red” were never adequate. He always wanted to know why you were doing something a certain way, which made you think about the reasons for your actions. He was loving, he was kind, and he cared for his family fiercely and was always very proud of each of them. He leaves a hole in their hearts that will never be filled, and he is sorely missed by all.
A celebration of life will be held in the spring when we can be outside. Internment at Arlington National Cemetery.