Eulogy for Douglas Luther Miller, 1948-2007

by George Laughead

Eight and fifty years
You've hung the sky with stars
Now you leap through--
what shattering !

(Adapted from Dogan)

Dearest Doug;

Damn, did you do that! Just now! Gone!

You, the skinny bright geek from San Antonio and then, Houston, Texas -- moving in 1965 to small Dodge City, Kansas high school. We became friends right away, even having some family ties due to your mother, Maxine Luther Miller, being from Cimarron. I grew up with your Dodge City cousins, Skip Cave, Chris Cave, and Kathie Cave Schmitt.

In Dodge City, you already were involved in great photography, major astronomy, and flying. And love of red sports cars. The red Triumph and later, the red Miata. Proudly joining the NAACP in high school. Teaching me more science than anyone, even then. Your all night science fiction reading was certainly along the path of your later all night programming. Whom else can I call at 4 a.m. now, if I'm up early?

And just three years ago, we all were at Kathleen Holt's 1886 Cimarron Hotel -- once owned by your mother's family -- holding a memorial for dear Maxine, for your dear sister Nancy, and for your dear brother Allen. You were still with friends you met in 1965, especially Rosemary Mock, whose children -- Melody Durso, Amanda Livingston, Tim Mock and L.E. Mock -- remain so close to you, and with your beloved family, including Nancy's son Brendan, and Allen's children, Clark and Amber, and your cousins.

And here we are again.

Your love for your wife, Patricia, I witnessed the start of -- at 1400 Ohio St. in early 1967 -- where your brother Allen and John Roper lived. You and I had come up from high school, my first visit to Lawrence. You met Patricia that day. You remained in love with Pat for 40 years, truly for the rest of your life.

Then both of us going to the University of Kansas later in 1967. Your face and Patricia's and Allen's and mine, and your friends here -- all in that G. Brown 1968 photograph, taken by the Rock Chalk bar -- which, of course, included friends out of sight, given the year. All nighters, loud music and chicken coop saunas. Farms and ponds. Peace marches. Odd journeys. Enough said.

Then came your job and a life you loved -- being a Lawrence fireman. Major passenger train wreck and tornados and fires -- you went and did and saved lives and were great at it. You held your fire crew friends in such high respect. And, Amy reminded me, you were in the now famous "cat in the chimney with fireman" front page photograph in the Lawrence Journal-World.

Then came the KU Computer Center years -- ah, KU -- yes, dear Doug, you probably do hold some record for years getting a BA, but you did learn and learn -- Russian, history, software -- you became, in KU Religious Studies Professor Timothy Miller's words ("Brother" Tim you always called him) "a supreme computer genius." And a nice one that never made us feel dumb. You could explain so much, so well. You gained the respect of the earliest web software and computer graphics pioneers -- KU's Jeff Bangert, here today, being one; and Michael Grobe, Lynx software developer, now at Indiana University, wrote me to share his great sadness, and his respect for you. There are many more I don't know.

Your software projects -- allowing huge, world class collections at the Paleo Institute and the Print Council of America, among many -- your software, like you, works well, and always in the background. And your current XML work, unfinished, that would have automated web inventor Tim Berners-Lee's WWW-Virtual Library for all of us VL volunteers. Again, even I could understand when you explained it. But none of us could do it. Your inventions are great.

I was so happy to have talked you into the volunteer VL software site work. Your VL friend, Dr. Serge Noiret, European University Institute, also wrote me about some emails on Norwegian forest cats. Serge said, "Doug had sent me beautiful pictures to show my children of his own cats and told us about their many qualities and how much his daughter in Toronto was fond of them." Yes, lots of cats -- I am so glad I took a rare photograph of you walking Amy's cat, Roo, the Norwegian forest national champion, on a pink leash.

And during the last couple of years, your computer help for our good friend KU History Professor Emeritus Lynn H. Nelson allows him to continue web work, even as he is going blind. Lynn wrote a message thanking you, sent to a large international history listserv. Lynn writes, "Aside from his other accomplishments, Doug was an excellent self-taught guitarist, creating his own arrangements -- which were really quite good -- and playing them. Unfortunately, he felt too shy to display these talents publicly, so there are few of us fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to enjoy and appreciate his gifts in this area." Yes, your music, Doug. It is so good. And over the years, a lot of us are lucky to have heard it.

A friend of yours (there have been over 2,000 page views of a thread about you) said it well; "Doug was a man of many talents, and had even more virtues. He was a good story-teller and had that gift of remembering details that made his reminiscences come alive in one's mind. He was an avid and knowledgeable advocate of greening the world." Oh, the great long evenings of relaxing educating stories, always funny.

Your friend Stephen Goddard, Spencer Museum of Art Curator of Prints and Drawings, wrote; "No better times for me than listening to Doug debunk conspiracy theories, while creating a few of his own." Oh, yes you did poke holes in the high and mighty, but you never, ever attacked the weak or forgot them.

There you were each week holding one of your unique signs in front of the Douglas County Courthouse, year after year, making sure that everyone knew some Americans cared always about peaceful means. And that yet again our government had chosen the wrong way to change history. Amy and Pat joined your dear Lawrence Coalition for Peace and Justice friends last Saturday. They miss you badly, especially dear CJ. And Pat told me she'll stay involved, something you'd want.

And you talked many times about your current webmaster help for the Drug Policy Foundation of Kansas and director, Laura A. Green. Another issue you held your ground on and took action.

Today, your friends from every walk of life are here, young and old. You should know, Doug, that last Friday, Amy even joined with your most important weekly Free State brewery friends, where you were known as "Mr. Coffee". I don't know if your cup of black coffee was on the bar. I do know that when I could go with you, a cup was ready as soon as your long pony-tailed head was seen. Oh, yes, your hair.

Friend Doug, your endless love of Amy, daughter of the bicentennial -- is another of your lasting gifts. She is the apple of your eye -- one that has not fallen fall -- forever. You are so proud of her. You like her boyfriend, Justin Ward, so much, and you're so glad that Amy is with him, and his family. Justin even writes computer code -- bonus for you!

And your nephew Brendan Lynch and wife Ginny Weaver and beautiful daughters, Camilla and Nora -- their recent move to Lawrence made you so happy, as it did Ginny's parents, KU Dean Rob and Betsy Weaver -- reminding us how much family means to you and how deeply you missed your brother and your sister and how you love their children. I'm so glad that your large Lawrencian family are all such good people. And Pat's family, her mother, Sarah Goodwin in Topeka, and her brother, Frank Goodwin in Hiawatha, are with her, too.

Doug, you are forever a rock for Patricia and Amy -- and your family, friends, and me.

So here we are -- following a sad week for the world, we now have more shock and pain. And in such a sad week, Doug, I need your bright and caring thoughts so much -- I'm so glad that we talked on Wednesday night. Thursday morning, you're gone. Just like that!

Thank you for being my best friend. Love, George

Eulogy for Doug Miller, 1948-2007, by George Laughead, April 25, 2007, Trinity Episcopal Church, Lawrence, Kansas.

Hosted at WWW-Virtual Library @