|young Ross in Memphis|
(with Howdy-Doody ventriloquist doll)
He was an only child for the first eight years of his life until his sister arrived, so he got a lot of undivided attention from both parents. Ross spent an unusually large amount of time with his father, thanks to the fact that many of a rabbi's duties were quite compatible with bringing a sweet young child along. He apparently charmed many members of his father's congregations, who were happy to help entertain him while his father attended to his duties. His father had a study filled with books at their home, where he wrote several books of his own, including a widely used textbook on comparative religion. His mother's poor health for the first few years after his sister's birth likely meant that Ross spent even more time with his dad then.
|Rabbi Milton Gerald (Jerry) Miller|
|Sara Stein Miller|
Ross grew up surrounded by his parents' intellectual curiosity about all things under the sun and beyond, with fond memories of travels in the family car (a Checker Marathon, which was just like one of those big old Checker taxicabs, but painted for use as a private car), listening to his father's favorite country music tunes as they traveled on daily errands around town for the temple or on cross-country trips to Sedona, Arizona and Cimarron, New Mexico, where he tagged along when his father served as summer camp chaplain. The summer camps in the southwest must have been delightful for both of them, with its sunny, dry, and unpolluted air, since they both suffered from seasonal allergies and asthma, and Ross frequently recounted magical memories of those times together in the desert. Father and son also took a very memorable trip to Washington DC together in August 1963 for the March on Washington, where they heard Rev. Martin Luther King deliver his famous "I have a dream" speech.
|Clockwise from top left: |
Rabbi Jerry Miller, Ross Miller,
Sara Stein Miller, Dinah Miler
(photo must have been taken shortly
before Jerry's death in 1964.)
During his school years, the family lived in Elizabeth, NJ where Ross attended the local public schools and his father was the spiritual leader of Temple Beth-El.
Tragedy struck the young family on a snowy night in 1964 when Jerry was shoveling his driveway in order to go out to visit an ailing member of his congregation. He was stricken by a heart attack at the age of 40, leaving behind his young family, a 40-year old widow still in fragile health herself, a toddler Dinah who never had the chance to get to know her dad, and a devastated ten year old Ross.