Sidney S. Miller, 72, captain of Pride of Baltimore II

May 27, 2000|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Sidney S. Miller, who was a Pride of Baltimore II captain on a voyage through Europe, died Sunday at his Sarasota, Fla., home after gall bladder surgery. He was 72 and had lived on South Hanover Street.

He sailed with the Pride from 1989 to 1991, logging 10,000 miles and calling at more than 20 foreign ports. He took the city's schooner through the Caribbean and made a circuit of the Mediterranean as far as Odessa in the former Soviet Union. He also called at English and Dutch ports.

"He was a competent mariner and was enthusiastic for Baltimore and Baltimore marine history," said Jan C. Miles, captain of the Pride.

Well known in Baltimore recreational sailing circles -- Mr. Miller took many harbor visitors out for evening and weekend cruises on the Clipper City and other vessels -- he also trained young sailors in celestial navigation.

"He was a charming man and a skilled captain," said James Piper Bond, president of the Living Classrooms Foundation in Fells Point. "He had a wonderful way with young people."

For many years, he was captain of the 108-foot schooner Westward, a research and teaching vessel out of Woods Hole, Mass. He taught oceangoing science to young college graduates.

"Captain Miller proved to be an excellent public relations spokesperson for our organization," said Linda Jordan, former Pride of Baltimore director. "His friendly manner smoothed our way through many an arrival ceremony and official reception."

In the 1960s and 1970s, he sailed guests on vacations on his own ketch, the Isoletta, through the Caribbean, across the Atlantic to the Mediterranean.

"He had an incredible sense of adventure," said Jill Yesko, a friend who lives in Baltimore. "You never knew where he'd be -- he'd have been in the Mediterranean four months. He had a restless heart."

In the late 1990s, Mr. Miller piloted the Harbor Belle, a side-wheeler that plied the Baltimore harbor on dining and dancing tours. He also handled duties aboard the Clipper City, a rigged sailing ship popular with Inner Harbor visitors.

"Sid was the mentor for all the captains we had on the Clipper City," said Jim Shaw, an owner of the Clipper City, who lives in Bel Air. "He loved old sailing ships and had a good feeling for them."

Mr. Miller was also an electrician who once had his own hydroelectric dam, Glencoe Mills, in Burlington, N.C. When he was not sailing, he installed and repaired electrical systems on sailing vessels.

"He was the best storyteller," said Sarah Ewing, a friend who lives in Roland Park. "He was the archetype of an old salt. He knew where all the bodies were buried in the maritime community."

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., he attended San Francisco State University.

He left home at age 16 and was working on merchant ships a year later.

During World War II, he served in the merchant marine and served as a tank repairman during the Korean War.

In 1959, he married the former Joan Marie Engle. They were divorced.

A memorial service will be held next month.

Mr. Miller is survived by a son, Robert Miller, of Port Charlotte, Fla.

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