BVA Mourns Passing of Organization Leader and Friend
Former Blinded Veterans Association Executive Director, National President, Vice President, Secretary, and District Director Dr. Ronald L. Miller passed away on December 6, 2012 in Turlock, California.
Ron was selected by the BVA Board of Directors in 1985 to serve as the Association’s seventh Executive Director, a position he held until 1994 when then Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Jesse Brown appointed him as a Special Advocate for Blinded Veterans at the VA Central Office in Washington. He was known as an effective speaker in his advocacy for veterans, especially blinded veterans.
Ron became BVA’s Executive Director after 19 years without one. BVA Bylaws required the position to be filled by a blinded veteran and a member of the Association. It was under Ron’s direction that BVA began its direct mail program that brought the organization greater financial solvency.
A life member of BVA since 1956, Ron served as National President in 1978 just prior to Dr. George Stocking’s tenure as President. Ron was National Vice President in 1977, National Secretary in 1976, and Director of District 4 in 1983-84 leading up to his appointment as Executive Director. He was also elected Director of District 4 in the summer of 2001 and served blinded veterans there until the end of calendar year 2002.
Ron received BVA’s high award, the Melvin J. Maas Award for Professional Achievement, in 1983 and the Irving Diener Award in 1982.
Ron was born in Canton, Ohio on July 25, 1935. A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, he lost his sight in an automobile accident prior to a scheduled transfer to an overseas assignment. His first contact with BVA was in the Naval Hospital in Philadelphia following the accident. After reconstructive surgery and lengthy hospitalization, Ron attended the Hines Blind Rehabilitation Center and became active in the Southern California Regional Group. He was the regional group’s secretary for two years.
Ron excelled in a variety of academic and professional pursuits prior to working for BVA full-time. Following intensive rehabilitation and his stay at Hines, Ron was accepted to Pepperdine University. It was there that he earned both Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in history and met his first wife Patricia. He became one of the first blind teachers in the state of California when Turlock High School District hired him.
After teaching high school history and English for five years, Ron was accepted into a Ph.D. history program at the University of Southern California. After completing the degree, he accepted teaching positions at the junior college level and later worked in the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity for the California State Department of Labor in Sacramento. His work involved advocacy on behalf of veterans applying for employment. In 1980, he was honored as one of a select number of outstanding disabled employees in state government.
Ron’s voluntary service included membership on the Board of Trustees of the American Foundation for the Blind and the California State Guide Dog Board. He also served for two years on the Huntington Beach Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Handicapped and was a member of the Board of Directors for the Orange County Employment of the Handicapped. He served as a delegate to the State Conference on the Handicapped in 1976 and was both a deacon and an elder in the Presbyterian Church.
Following his retirement in 1998, Ron worked hard to increase his computer skills so that he could continue to educate others about veteran’s issues. He also continued to be an avid guide dog user.
Ron is survived by his wife, Joanie, of Turlock, a daughter Diane Miller of Albuquerque, New Mexico, son Colonel Paul Miller, USMC, daughter-in-law Laura Miller, and two granddaughters, Presley and Cassidy, all of Carlsbad, California.