Josepha S. Weiler Miller, 92, philanthropist and volunteer

October 24, 1997|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Josepha Schoeneman Weiler Miller, whose philanthropy benefited a wide range of organizations, died of cancer Tuesday at her Pikesville residence. She was 92.

A person of abundant energy and voluminous interests, Mrs. Miller supported hospitals, museums, the performing arts and education.

"She grew up in that generation when it was expected of you to give. It was your duty and obligation, and she was lucky enough to have the money to do these things," said her stepson and son-in-law, J. Jefferson Miller Jr. of Ruxton.

"Her sense of philanthropy was certainly stimulated by her parents," said another son-in-law, Edward A. Halle of Baltimore.

Her parents, Ansel and Ellen Adelsdorf Schoeneman, endowed the rehabilitation center at Sinai Hospital that bears their name.

Mrs. Miller served on many boards, including Associated Jewish Charities and at Sinai, where she volunteered several days a week for years.

She was also active in the Children's Guild and the Central Scholarship Bureau, a venerable Baltimore institution that has provided partial academic scholarships to city residents for 75 years.

She also was a benefactor of the Maryland Historical Society, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Walters Art Gallery and the American Wing of the Baltimore Museum of Art.

A trim woman who was seldom without a string of pearls and whose hair was carefully coiffed, she was born Josepha Schoeneman in Baltimore and raised on Eutaw Place.

Her father was chairman of J. W. Schoeneman Co., one of Baltimore's oldest manufacturers of private label men's clothing that was founded on West Redwood Street in 1888.

She was a 1922 graduate of the Park School and earned a bachelor's degree from Goucher College in 1925. That year, she married Stuart M. Weiler, a Schoeneman executive who died in 1956.

In 1957, she married J. Jefferson Miller Sr., former executive vice president of the Hecht Co. and a catalyst of Baltimore's Charles Center-Inner Harbor urban renewal plan. He died in 1972.

Mrs. Miller was a strong, independent woman who was interested in women's issues.

"She really was very au courant and self-effacing and I think if things had been different in her time, she would have been a broker on Wall Street. She had an incredible knowledge of financial matters," said her daughter, Ellen W. Halle of Baltimore.

Known as an early riser, Mrs. Miller would already have devoured the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers by 7 a.m. when she began telephoning family members, calling their attention to stories that had caught her eye.

"Everyone else her age is normally asleep at that hour but not her. The phone would ring and you could be certain she was on the line," said Mr. Halle, laughing.

An excellent duplicate bridge player, Mrs. Miller would often good-naturedly advise her players at the card table to, "Make your mistakes quickly."

Known for her quick repartee and intelligent conversation, Mrs. Miller liked gathering family and friends at the end of the day and over a Dewer's on the rocks discussing the day's events, art, music and theater.

"I was extremely fond of her and she was very bright and witty. She knew when to laugh at people," said Walter Sondheim, a longtime Baltimore civic leader and friend for many years.

Mrs. Miller was a member of the Suburban Club and enjoyed travel.

She was a member of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, 7401 Park Heights Ave., where services will be held at 1 p.m. today.

Other survivors include another daughter, Anne W. Miller of Ruxton; a stepson, Milton H. Miller of Owings Mills; a stepdaughter, Cynthia M. Rosenwald of Stevenson; nine grandchildren; and 18 great-grandchildren.

Pub Date: 10/24/97

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