William Miller

Obituary of William Grant Miller

William Grant Miller passed away on Friday, March 4, 2022, at age 90. Bill was a good man who lived a long life that was full of travel, adventure, and efforts to make the world a better place. He was a wise man who was an independent and, at times, contrarian thinker. Bill was honest and fully supportive of his children and grandchildren. Most important, Bill loved his wife of 65 years, Nancy Lee Miller, and he cherished their life together.  

Bill was born in Brooklyn, NY and went to Brooklyn Tech High School, where he played football at Ebbets Field and was named all NYC in football. Bill was a good student and earned a scholarship to play football at Lafayette College, where he studied civil engineering.  After college, Bill was required to enlist in the army (Korean War) and he built airports in Germany. 

After the army, Bill married Nancy Lee Cottrell (now Miller) and he took a job as the civil engineer in Vineland, NJ. Shortly thereafter, they had a baby girl, Florence.  Bored with civil engineering, Bill went back to school to study history at Rutgers where he earned a Masters degree and pursued his Doctorate.  Bill taught history and then took the job as the Archivist at Rutgers. In the 1960s, Bill and Nancy actively joined the anti-war movement and fought for civil rights. Bill was there for the March on Washington and MLK’s speech. By the mid-60s, Bill and Nancy had 4 kids: Florence, Grant, Mason and Morgan. 

After planning a move to Australia due to fear of nuclear war, etc., they were invited to move out to Hunterdon County where Dave Dellinger (civil rights activist and later a member of the Chicago 7) and others had formed a “commune” called St. Francis Acres.  Upon moving, Bill promptly used his civil engineering skills to build a house. Bill always enjoyed a good discussion about politics, and he loved watching sports on the black/white TV that you needed pliers to change the channel.   

In the 1970s, Bill would take his family on great family trips to most of the national parks in the USA. The family would travel in a rebuilt VW van that went 50 MPH (downhill), had no AC and mostly played Beatles tunes on the 8-track. The VW van broke down a few times, but Bill and Grant would figure out how to fix it or get it towed home. Bill would drive all day, the kids would set up tents, Bill cooked dinner on the Bunsen burner stove, told scary stories by the fire, and then the family slept in tents that always leaked when it rained. 

In the 1980s, Bill hiked the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia, approx. 2,190 miles. Bill’s moniker was Motel Bill, the Happy Hitchhiker. Bill would hike for a few days and then hitchhike to a motel so he could shower, have a few beers and watch the Mets. In the 1980s, Bill also took on the responsibility of being President of the North Hunterdon Board of Education. Further, Bill started the first recycling center in Hunterdon County and perhaps NJ. Bill and his sons spent many days talking, crushing glass on a unsafe machine he built and tossing newspaper bundles. In the 80s, Bill and Nancy traveled the world, visiting Europe, China, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, etc., while the kids threw awesome parties at home. LOL. 

In the 1990s, Bill and Nancy moved to Atlin, BC, Canada. They bought a rundown house with limited electricity and water.  Bill built a great home which included a hot tub overlooking Atlin mountain. They loved it there. Bill enjoyed the local Inuit culture, joined a theater group and hiked the glaciers. Bill also researched, wrote and published a book, Wires in the Wilderness. After 15 years in Atlin, Bill and Nancy returned to NJ to be with family and their grandkids, Olivia, Logan, Skyler, Kylie, Luke and Mahlon.    

In his later years, Bill lived on “Miller’s mountain” in the Clinton area where he enjoyed his grandkids and being with Nancy. His daughter, Florence, helped him through some difficult times, and they enjoyed each other’s company, watching old TV shows, feeding the dogs and cats.  Bill loved visits from his family, but mostly he cherished his time with Nancy and he loved reminiscing about the wonderful adventures they had together!  Bill was loved and will be greatly missed by family and friends!


A Memorial Tree was planted for William
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Martin Funeral Home
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