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Wilmer G. Miller

Wilmer G. Miller

Wilmer G. Miller, 85 years old of Finland, MN passed away January 20, 2018 at the farm he shared with his wife Elli Sundholm who was at his side with his "friend" Ida, his large poodle.

Born in Mt. Orab, Ohio in 1932 to Clarence and Leona Miller, his beginnings on a dairy and tobacco farm gave him a foundation of never ending curiosity; seeking knowledge of the world and beyond.

Graduating from Capital University in Ohio, he received the American Institute of Chemistry Outstanding Senior Award; he went on to earn his PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1958. While there he published seven papers on biophysical chemistry. He then held a one-year post-doctoral fellowship from the US Public Health Service working under Professor George B. Kistiakowsky at Harvard University, working on biodegradation of synthetic proteins.

He joined the University of Iowa in 1960 as an assistant professor. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1964 and spent the next year working on the physical chemistry of biopolymers at Stanford University. He joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota as an associate professor of chemistry in 1967 and became a full professor in 1970.

Wilmer had studied and collaborated with a number of scientists from around the globe. In 1972, he spent six months at the Institute Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg, France. Six months later, as an exchange scientist he went to the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in Moscow. In 1982, he was a visiting professor at the department of physics at Universidad Autonoma in Metropolitana, Mexico. In 1990, he went on sabbatical at the physics department at Massey University in New Zealand. His articles have been published in over 150 publications, and he served as advisor to over 100 undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students.

The University of Minnesota writes "Miller was a conscientious and patient educator who taught freshman chemistry, undergraduate and graduate physical chemistry, and polymer chemistry. He was the adviser to a large number of undergraduates, graduate students and post-doctoral associates. As a research mentor, he gave students broad freedom to pursue projects of mutual interest. His research group was always a nice mix of international and domestic students who found him compassionate and caring. His mentoring and high expectations led many students to success. He was also widely known as a great listener, willing to help students and colleagues alike with all manner of issues, both professional and personal. At various times, he served as director of graduate studies, department vice chair, industrial consultant, assistant journal editor, and grant committee member."

Wilmer's research touched on a variety of important problems in polymer and surfactant solutions and dispersions, with a special focus on polymer phase diagrams and structure and dynamics of biopolymers.

He retired to the North Shore of Minnesota where he relocated and rebuilt the tobacco barn from his childhood farm in Ohio. He enjoyed tending to, traveling, and showing reindeer with wife Elli. He often joked about going from being a chemistry professor to reindeer farmer.

Proceeded in death by his parents, late wife Caroline, stepson Timothy Dickson, and beloved Finn spitz, Hedgie. Survived by wife Elli, brother Willis (Carolyn), and son Peter Miller and grandsons Chase, Brandon, Austin, and Tyler; Nephews David and Allen; Stepchildren Jane (Bruce) Schnabel, Lise Bower, Peter (Laura) Dickson, Karl (Sue Lynn) Scheib, Kurt Scheib, Mark (Dina) Scheib, Kirstin (Wes) Berntson; Grandchildren, Rebecca, Elizabeth, Anja, Kyla, Andy, Tom, Michael, Graham and Grace; Great granddaughter Mariah; Valued friend Sally Tschida and his special canine friends Ida, Arvo and Kettu.

Memorial services will be held in the spring in Finland, MN.