Paul P. Miller, who for more than eight decades taught mathematics to generations of students at 20 different institutions in the Baltimore metropolitan area, died on Dec. 22. He was 104.
Miller — who attended a teachers college and then received graduate degrees from Johns Hopkins University and Louisiana State University — began his career at an elementary school in 1934 and started teaching high school 16 years later.
Among the institutions he taught at were Johns Hopkins, the University of Maryland, Ner Israel Rabbinical College – where he taught for more than a half-century — and Towson University. Miller also taught at Southern High School, Loyola University and the Community College of Baltimore County, at both the Catonsville and Essex campuses.
“I think if I stop, I’d rust apart,” Miller told WBAL-TV news in 2010.
In 2011, Miller became the first teacher in Maryland to be inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame. He also held the record for most years taught by an active accredited teacher in the United States.
Miller retired from teaching in 2014, largely due to a loss of hearing.
Last year, he was inducted into the Baltimore Jewish Hall of Fame, along with such community luminaries as Rabbi Dr. Samuel Rosenblatt, Fabian H. Kolker and Rebecca A. Hoffberger.
“Mr. Miller was my algebra teacher at Ner Israel over 45 years ago,” wrote Rabbi David E. Herman of Shaarei Tfiloh Synagogue in a memorial tribute on the website of Sol Levinson & Bros. “He was brilliant, witty and a real gentleman. When my sons attended Ner Israel years later, they were privileged to have had him as their instructor as well. … Mr. Miller was a proud Jew who took much pride in the accomplishments of his family.”
A Baltimore native and one of five sons, Miller was the offspring of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants. His parents spoke only Yiddish and came from humble origins, but they always encouraged their sons to pursue education and develop a love for learning.
Respected and beloved by his students for his affable and gentle manner, modesty and enthusiasm for math, Miller tended to teach his lessons from scratch and largely eschewed technology.
“I think the best lesson that Mr. Miller taught us is that if you love what you do, you can do it forever,” former student Eli Fink said at the time of Miller’s induction into the National Teachers Hall of Fame. “Mr. Miller loved teaching math and he has been teaching for 75 years. I wish Mr. Miller many more years, and if he is still teaching in seven to eight years, maybe my son will be able to raise his hand when asked, ‘How many of your grandfathers had Mr. Miller?’”
A Beth Tfiloh congregant, Miller was known by family, friends, colleagues and students as a gifted raconteur who never lost his love for teaching and for his students.
“The greatest thing is, you see the product of your work and you can take pride in it,” Miller said of the teaching profession in 2010 to WMAR-TV. “If you do something wrong, you come in the next day and you can make it up.”
In a 2017 profile by National Public Radio, Miller said of teaching and life in general, “Anytime you have a bad day … the next morning, it’s all forgotten.”
Miller is survived by his seven children, Steven (Lora) Miller, Wendy (Dr. David) Fishbein, Dr. Jeffrey (Wendy) Miller, Dr. Glenn (Lisa) Miller, Dr. Samuel (Marcella) Miller, Dr. Scott Miller, and Dr. Lisa (Dr. Michael) Miller; his grandchildren, Ruth Miller (Wai) Fong, Leah Miller, Dr. Ben (Leah) Fishbein, Dr. Jason (Morgan) Fishbein, Dr. Joey Fishbein, Josh (Abby) Miller, Dr. Adam Miller (fiance Jamee Wasilewsky), Erin Miller, Dr. Zack Miller, Tess Miller, Dr. Katelyn (Robert) Owen, Dr. Greg Miller, Ilana Miller and Max Miller; and his great-grandchildren, Lilly Fong, Timothy Fong, Amelia Fishbein, and Patrick Owen.
He was predeceased by his wife, Frieda Miller (nee Lapidus); siblings, Abe Miller, Ben Miller, Herbie Miller and Elliott Miller; his parents, Louis and Rebecca Miller; and his grandson, Isaac Miller.
Contributions in Paul Miller’s memory may be sent to Ner Israel Rabbinical College, 400 Mt Wilson Lane, Pikesville, Md. 21208, or PJ Library, 67 Hunt Street, Suite 100, Agawam, Mass. 01001.