An impressive new skyline was on the horizon for Battle Creek as well, but such high hopes crashed with the stock market in October 1929, throwing the country into a decade-long Depression. It was a sobering entry into adulthood for Bob Miller, who after college first worked as a reporter at the Enquirer, then served as its business manager. While he recognized that his family’s personal circumstances were far from dire, he felt the painful impact of the Depression on the community he loved.

Despite the tough economic times, the ‘30s were a decade of personal milestones for Bob. In 1932, he met Jean Leonard and they wed in April 1934. Their first son, Robert B. Jr., was born the following year, and son, Allen (Al) was born in 1938. Both boys were born and raised in Battle Creek. They went away to prep school where they each took their own unique paths. As a businessman, husband and father, Bob wanted to help the Battle Creek community recover from the Depression and regain the economic strength that helped it grow early in the century. He knew that helping people was as important as running a successful business.

Bob Miller became a driving force in several areas and organizations throughout Battle Creek, including creating the George Awards, supporting Kellogg Community College, and the creation of Fort Custer Industrial Park and its marketing arm, Battle Creek Unlimited.

Bob’s wife, Jean, died in 1976. Two years later, he married Olive Adams, a longtime friend whose husband had died after 42 years of marriage. It was during the 1970s that Bob became involved with what was to become Binder Park Zoo, formed the McCamly Square Corp., and promoted the merger of the City of Battle Creek with the adjacent Battle Creek Township.

Bob Miller Sr. died in 1999, five years after the death of his second wife, Olive.  Their sons, Bob Jr. and Al Miller both honor their father’s belief that the family resources should be used to make a long-lasting impact on the community. It is with that belief that they and their families have been involved in several community organizations including Big Brothers-Big Sisters, American Red Cross, March of Dimes, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, United Way, Family Y Center, Art Center of Battle Creek, Battle Creek Community Foundation and the Music Center of Battle Creek. As you can see, The Miller Foundation has been profound to several areas vital to the community of Battle Creek.

Al Miller

Al Miller was born and raised in Battle Creek and still remembers fondly winning the basketball city championships at WK Junior High.  It was all downhill after that!  He graduated from Williams College in the mid 18th century and within months was living in Lebanon, teaching and beginning a lifelong interest in Arab culture, history, and politics.  He still travels annually to Palestine to teach, learn and visit friends.

In the early 1970’s, Miller founded The Theater Project in Brunswick, Maine, where he has lived since returning from the Middle East.  He is still teaching, directing, storytelling and occasionally acting.  Outside of Maine, Miller has taught and directed in New England and New York and Michigan as well as the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

Miller is the proud father of five adults who are much smarter than he is and eight grandchildren who are similarly brighter than their grandfather who they tolerate and please mightily.

Bob Miller Jr.

After a long battle with Parkinson’s disease, Bob Miller Jr. died in 2007. In addition to the Miller family’s numerous public achievements, thousands of local residents have benefited from their personal kindness and generosity, whether it be paying for medical expenses, providing scholarships or meeting any number of other needs. To learn more about the work and contributions made by The Miller Foundation, visit our timeline here or read more about Bob Miller and his family in our 50th Anniversary Book, which you can download here (PDF).