Edward's Story

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CASTINE - Edward Alan Miller, of Castine, died in Bangor on September 5, 2014. He was 92 years old.

He leaves five children, Edward Jr. and his wife, Sarah, of Montpelier, Vermont; Elizabeth Miller and her husband, the Rev. Joseph Schulte, of Evansville, Indiana; Marion Fisher and her husband, Walton Low, of Las Cruces, New Mexico; Jane Saltsman, of Milford, New Hampshire; and John Miller and his wife, Suzanne, of Port Charlotte, Florida. He also leaves a brother, Robert Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland, and a sister, Jane Robison of Asheville, North Carolina. He also leaves five grandchildren: Amy and Andrew Fisher, Brett and Kristin Saltsman, and Aaron Poirier, five great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews. His wife of 67 years, Mary Jane, died in February.

Ed was born in Washington, D.C., the son of John Milton Miller and Frances Riley Miller. He grew up in the Philadelphia area, and was the City of Philadelphia boys tennis champion in 1939. He went on to play golf and tennis at the University of Maryland, and later was part of the United States Army tennis team. He was also an accomplished Bridge player, who won many duplicate tournaments on the East Coast. He played in a Bangor Bridge league until recently, and authored a book about Bridge strategies called Better Your Bridge.

Ed left the University of Maryland during World War II, received training at the US Merchant Marine Academy, and was licensed as a captain. He later received a direct commission into the US Army's Transportation Corps, and served for the remainder of the war as a captain of two different troop transport and supply ships in the Southwest Pacific. He returned to college after the war, and graduated from Maryland in 1950 with an engineering degree. He returned to active duty during the Korean War, and was stationed at Fort Eustis, Virginia. He later achieved the rank of Major, U.S.A.R.

Ed and the family moved to Cincinnati in 1953 when Ed joined the General Electric Company, working in the Jet Engine Division. During this period of time, he went to law school at night, and earned a law degree at Salmon P. Chase College, now part of the University of Northern Kentucky.

In late 1958, the family moved to the Philadelphia area when Ed was transferred to the Missile and Space Division at GE. He played an instrumental part in several important U.S. space missions in the 1960s. Under Ed's leadership, GE pioneered the design, construction, deployment and operation of the first man-made objects to be recovered from earth orbit, as part of the Discoverer project. This project was later declassified and known as the Corona reconnaissance program. He and his team developed the first satellite-based photographic capability that replaced reconnaissance techniques no longer feasible, such as U-2 overflights. The success of Corona provided the US with critical and timely intelligence throughout the Cold War, as well as the technological basis on which our later manned space flight program was developed.

Ed also worked for Philco-Ford in Palo Alto, CA; Fairchild Industries in Rockville, MD; and Itek Corp. in Lexington, MA. In 1974, he was asked to join the Ford administration as Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Development. He left Washington in 1977 to join Sanders Associates in Nashua, NH, and retired from Sanders in 1984. He was also recognized as a Pioneer of Space Technology by the US Government, and was honored by the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency in1985. In 2005, he was awarded the nationally-recognized Charles Stark Draper Prize, for pre-eminence in engineering. That award was largely in recognition of Ed's role in the Discoverer/Corona project.

Ed and Mary Jane owned several houses in Castine over the years, and greatly enjoyed their retirement years in Maine. He served as Commodore of the Castine Yacht Club and was on the Board of Governors of the Castine Golf Club. He wrote a weekly bridge column in the Castine Patriot for several years. He participated in many golf and tennis tournaments in Castine, and often raced his Castine class sailboat, Discoverer 13, in the Saturday afternoon races.

The family thanks the staff at Ross Manor for their longtime help, support, and compassion. It is much appreciated.

There will be a celebration of Ed's life at the Castine Trinitarian Congregational Church on Saturday, September 27, at 11 a.m. A committal in the Castine Cemetery will be held later, at the family's convenience. The family asks that any contributions in Ed's memory be sent to a local humane society. Condolences to the family may be expressed at www.BrookingsSmith.com
Published on  September 8, 2014
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