January 11, 2004

Remembering David Miller

By: Jessica Zigmond

When asked to write about David Miller, I was eager to share my thoughts about him. I remember David often, and he left behind a wealth of memories for those who knew him. While I hope that some who read this will remember their own stories, I also hope to introduce David to those who never met him. He was a loyal friend, and I wish you could have known him.

David was one of my first co-workers to welcome me to the Educational Affairs department when I started my first job at The Heritage Foundation in May 1997. There was an ease about him, and he made a true effort to know the people with whom he worked. Those who knew him, I’m sure, remember his sharp intellect, quick wit (think Johnny Carson) and genuine interest in the people and world around him. I believe it was this sincere, almost child-like interest in all things that helped make David such a good friend.

Of the many memories I have of David, his generosity to those of us in Educational Affairs in the fall of 1997 is one that I cherish most. At that time, department restructuring and renovation efforts caused us to “lose” the table we had commonly used for lunch. It is safe to say that David was more than annoyed that those who brought their lunch (or grabbed something and returned to the office) no longer had a place to take a mid-day break, even if only for 30 minutes. To rectify what he considered an egregious error, David opened his office to all of us in Educational Affairs, each day at lunch time. He said the table in his office–used for layout purposes for Policy Review–was the only one large enough to accommodate us all. The only rule was that we could not use the table when David reviewed the blue lines prior to the magazine’s monthly publishing deadline.

My very best memories from Heritage happened at that table. To appreciate how unique those discussions were, you have to understand that David had a gift for real conversation. All who knew him would agree: there was nothing fake about David Miller. That sincerity in both written and verbal communication is, I think, a blessing.

At those lunches, we all talked about politics (of course!), baseball, movies, religion, manners, The Washington Post vs. The Washington Times, books, restaurants, and anything else–however major or minor–that was important to us. The likes of Mark McGuire (David was a lifelong Oakland fan), the Pope, Amy Vanderbilt, the Post‘s Thomas Boswell, Dick Wolfe, Jerry Seinfeld and Strunk & White would have had a place at that table on any given day. And for that, we should have thanked David. He offered his work friends a gift every day: the chance to immerse themselves in life and the wonderful, sad, funny, frustrating and often puzzling situations that come with it.

At the luncheon following David’s memorial service–two years ago this week–I found myself surrounded by some of the same people who had shared those lunch-time discussions in David’s office years earlier. We each shared our favorite memories of David, all of which made us think, smile or laugh.

I think he would have liked that.

Jessica Zigmond has worked previously as a business reporter and freelance writer; she now works in the communications department for a society of thoracic surgeons in Chicago, Ill.

An educational fund has been established for the educational expenses for David’s children, Jack and Jonah Miller. Contributions should be made to the Miller Family Educational Fund and should be sent to:

Jonathan Eisner
Piper, Marbury, Rudnick, & Wolfe
6225 Smith Avenue
Baltimore, Md. 21209-3600