Pastor, Preacher, Family Man
Reverend J. Ronald Miller Sr., age 82, passed away on December 25th, 2020.
He born in Los Angeles, California in 1938, and raised in Arlington, Kansas from 1943 to 1958. Afterward, he was a resident of Warren Township from 1961 onward.
Rev. Miller graduated from Arlington High School in 1956 and afterward he graduated Summa Cum Laude from Southwestern College, in Winfield, Kansas, with a Bachelor of Arts. He went on pursue a Master of Divinity degree from Drew Theological School and graduated in 1963. He completed his studies by graduating from Rutgers University in 1967 with a Master’s Degree in American History.
Ron was also dedicated patriot. He was a member of the Kansas National Guard from 1956 to 1960, a member of the New Jersey National Guard from 1960 to 1982 and was their Chaplain from 1963 to 1982.
Early in his Pastorate, Rev. Miller served as president of Plainfield area (NJ) Association of Religious Organizations (ARO) whose purpose was to gather clergy together and to reach out to all members of the community, regardless of faith. Later, he founded the Watchung Hills Interfaith Clergy Association which gave local religious leaders a platform to address issues and combat divisiveness.
After his Ordination to Christian Ministry, Rev. Miller spent 45 years of his adult life as a Pastor at Wilson Memorial Union Church in Watchung, NJ from 1961 to 2006. He served first as an Associate Pastor and retired as a Senior Pastor. Upon his retirement, he received the title of Pastor Emeritus.
In 1978, Rev. Miller was instrumental in the founding of a covenant between St. Mary’s-Stony Hill Roman Catholic Church and Wilson Memorial Church, both of Watchung. It was the first covenant of its kind in NJ and emphasized common Christian values including community service, educational awareness, blood drives and ecumenical services.
Then, in the 1980s, he was a member of the Board of Trustees at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, which included two terms as Chairman. He worked tirelessly to expand residents’ programs to enrich their restricted lives.
Rev. Miller brought Wilson Memorial Church back into the International Council of Community Churches (“ICCC”) organization, which is a communion of diverse expressions of Christian faith. ICCC members come from all over the world including North America, Africa, and Europe. The mission statement of the ICCC is: “As people devoted to following Christ, we are committed to community, to treasuring diversity, to living our faith in service and love.” He served on the Board of Directors from 1988 to 1994 as well as President of the Board from 1995 to 1997. As President of ICCC, he prioritized visiting many member churches around the country. He also served on the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches. In addition, he represented the ICCC as a delegate to the World Council of Churches Assembly in Australia, which gathers every 10 years.
He also authored “A Prophet in the House”, a book on the life of Rev. Dr. Charles A. Eaton, a longtime Watchung, NJ resident. The book evolved from Rev. Miller’s master’s thesis at Rutgers University and chronicles the life of Eaton’s adult years as both a Protestant minister and a U.S. Congressman representing Watchung and surrounding communities. Eaton was a champion of human freedom and was instrumental in the development of the Marshall Plan after the end of WWII.
Rev. Miller also served as Chaplain for both the Borough of Watchung and Warren Township Police Departments.
Above all the many accomplishments throughout his life, Ron was a family man first who loved his wife of 54 years, cherished his two children, and doted on his six grandchildren. He loved to be at home, play with the many family dogs through the years, and work in his numerous gardens. Traveling around the globe allowed him to visit all 50 U.S. states and over 50 foreign countries. As an avid reader, he enjoyed reading anything he could get his hands on.
He is survived by his loving wife, Lonnie (Madelon) Tetaz Miller; his children, Sarah Miller, and Ron Miller Jr. and spouse Cheryl; his six grandchildren, Brian, Heather, and Blake Januzzi, and Nicholas, Patrick, and Cecelia Miller.
A memorial service will be held at Wilson Memorial Church a later date.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, please send donations in memory of Rev. J. Ronald Miller Sr. to:
• Wilson Memorial Union Church, 7 Valley Road, Watchung, NJ 07069
• International Council of Community Churches, P.O. Box 846, Longmont, CO 80502