BANGOR – Sanford “Sonny” Miller, 82, died peacefully Nov. 26, 2009, after a long, courageous battle due to complications from pancreatic cancer. Sonny was born Jan. 18, 1927, to Rena and Meyer Miller in Bangor. He attended Bangor schools, graduating from Bangor High School in June 1944. That same month, Sonny joined the U.S. Navy. He was a proud member of the Seabee’s unit stationed in the Philippines. After his naval years, he attended Bentley College, Boston. Sonny returned home to his roots in Bangor, where he did a variety of different jobs. However, in 1951 with his mother, father and younger brother, Robert Miller, Sonny opened Miller’s Luncheonette, Washington Street. It was a true family affair. This would serve to launch Miller’s Restaurant, an eating establishment synonymous with Bangor. Miller’s would operate for more than 50 years at various locations. After many successful years on lower Main Street, directly across from the original Bangor Auditorium, tragically a fire destroyed the business in February 1962. This date would forever be remembered as the very same day John Glen orbited the moon. Sonny would meet Glen years later to tell him in person of this life-changing event for both men. Being so driven, Sonny wasted no time and took his infamous “Meet Me at Millers” a short distance down the road to the former Aunt Molly’s Restaurant in April of that same year. Throughout the next 40-plus years, Miller’s would evolve with hard work and one addition at a time, to an institution in the city of Bangor. Sonny had a knack for trail blazing in the food business. He would set a new standard in dining for Bangor from the upscale English style Red Lion, complete with a double-decker bus and two English taxis to the largest buffet anywhere. He challenged himself constantly while giving Bangor the best of what he could offer. In business, Sonny was always a step ahead of his time with a can-do attitude that drove his success. His success in business was based upon a strong commitment to give back to the community that supported his family, including the thousands of employees and their families throughout the years, that he called his own. He strongly believed in this philosophy and favored anonymity. However, he was the recipient of numerous awards for his generosity and commitment during the years. He was a member of Congregation Beth Israel. Throughout the years he served as a director on the Congregation Beth Israel Board, as well as a longtime member of the Chevra Kadisha. Sonny was an active member of several organizations and various clubs during his lifetime. A sampling of these include: corporator – Bangor Savings Bank; corporator – Eastern Maine Medical Center; the University of Maine Alumni Association; Bangor Lions Club; Maine Restaurant and Innkeepers Association; Ralph J. Pollard Lodge No. 217 AF & AM, Orrington; Scottish Rite Bodies Valley of Bangor; Maine Consistory 32nd Degree, Portland; Sunshine Club for Children; and Anah Shriners, where he served in the Greeters Unit. Sonny’s entrepreneurial skills, along with his great vision, self-discipline, dedication and love of family navigated him through the years. This granted him success not measured monetarily, but how it shaped others that came into his path. His legacy will live on indefinitely because of his kindness, generosity and utmost integrity. Sonny is survived by his loving wife of 22 years, Joanne (Banks) Miller; two sons, Scot Miller and John Miller, all of Bangor; four daughters, Robyn Shaw of Cape Elizabeth, Lisa Miller of Biddeford, Kimberly Zippert and her husband, Randy, of Reisterstown, Md., and Shelly Miller and her partner, Polly Sparhawk, of Dedham; three stepdaughters, Kimberly Lamson of Westbrook, Kathy Wadleigh of Veazie and Karen Dow and her husband, Josh, of Cumberland; grandchildren, Wendy Pollo, Erica, Allison and Evan Zippert, and Hannah Miller; and stepgrandchildren, Jessica and Joshua Lamson, Gwen and Amy Wadleigh, and Allison Dow. He is also survived by his only brother, Robert Miller and his wife, Judy, of Baltimore; several nieces, nephews and cousins. A funeral service will be held noon Monday, Nov. 30, at Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue, 144 York St., Bangor, with Rabbi Steven Schwarzman officiating. Interment will be at Beth Israel Cemetery, Bangor. Those who wish to remember Sonny in a special way may make gifts in his memory to the Sanford Miller Endowment Fund, care of Bangor Public Library, 145 Harlow St., Bangor, ME 04401 or the Sanford and Joanne Miller Onward Program Scholarship, care of the University of Maine Foundation, Two Alumni Place, Orono, ME 04469-5792. Condolences to the family may be expressed at www.BrookingSmith.com.
SANFORD ‘SONNY’ MILLER
Posted Nov. 27, 2009, at 8:09 p.m.