Alice C. Miller, 95, provisioner of famed downtown restaurant

July 06, 2002|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Alice C. Miller, an owner and food provisioner of the locally renowned Miller Brothers Restaurant in downtown Baltimore, died Tuesday of a stroke at Sunrise of Towson. She was 95 and lived for many years in the Wiltondale section of Baltimore County.

Until the West Fayette Street restaurant closed in 1963, she kept accounts, and ordered its foods, wine and spirits. The building was demolished for the Charles Center redevelopment.

Born Alice Cramer in Walkersville in Frederick County, she was a 1924 graduate of Frederick High School and earned a degree in mathematics from Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pa., where she remained an active alumna and served as a board member in the 1960s and 1970s.

"She was a generous person who was committed to the life of her church and her college," said the Rev. Bruce G. Swanson, pastor of 1st and St. Stephen's United Church of Christ in Stoneleigh. "She enjoyed entertaining a great deal. She organized the choir's Christmas parties."

Mrs. Miller moved to Baltimore in the 1930s and worked for Maryland National Bank before her 1941 marriage to Frederick M. Miller, the son of a co-founder of Miller Brothers Restaurant. He died in 1961.

The couple, along with other family members, operated the restaurant at the southeast corner of Fayette and Hanover streets. She used her background in mathematics to keep the restaurant's books and place orders for its kitchen and bar. In the 1940s, Miller Brothers employed 70 waiters, bus boys and clerks and another 60 in the kitchen fabled for Chesapeake Bay and German-American dishes.

For nearly 20 years, she worked seven days a week, except for vacations, and Preakness Day, which she took off and went to the races. Every other Sunday she visited her sister, niece and nephew in Frederick.

"I remember going in one day to visit my aunt," said M. Ann Adams, a niece who lives in Frederick. "And there was Robert Preston sitting at a table next to us. It was not unusual for the stage stars to be there."

Family members said that after the restaurant closed, she used her knowledge of wines and liquors to throw a New Year's Day cocktail party. She also tapped her catering skills for her work in the numerous organizations she joined.

She was a member of the Women's Club of Towson and the American Association of University Women. She was a founder of its Towson chapter.

A recreational gardener, she raised beds of irises at her home - she had dozens of varieties - and joined the Wiltondale Garden Club and the Francis Scott Key Iris Society. She was also an American Iris Society judge.

A member of the Women's Civic League, she participated at the Flower Mart until about 10 years ago. She donated kitchen equipment to the League's Front Street historic house adjacent to the Shot Tower.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. July 13 at 1st and St. Stephen's United Church of Christ, 6915 York Road, where she was a 45-year-member and sang in the choir.

In addition to her niece, she is survived by a nephew, Scott Shipley, of Frederick.

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