GEORGE OXFORD MILLER
APRIL 5, 1943 –JANUARY 10, 2024
Sometimes into your life comes a person who walks quietly about the Earth yet whose actions are so loudly felt. George Oxford Miller was such a man. Adventurer, Traveler, Writer, Hiker, Photojournalist, Nature Lover, Father, Grandfather, Husband. It’s difficult to prioritize these words that describe him, for George was truly devoted to living all of these roles fully, passionately and equally.
The Mountains are Calling and I must go. –said John Muir. A few weeks ago, the mountains were calling George, and, in his quiet but strong way, he went.
So, now, as we mourn his passing, we take some time to honor his life and contributions as we carry his legacy with us as we also walk about the Earth remembering his footsteps.
George was born in Pasadena, California but raised in Texas by parents Sydney and Myrtle Miller. As he described it, all little boys in the early 1960s wanted to work for NASA, and so George set his sights on that goal, graduating with a BS from Lamar University and then worked at NASA during the moon landing program. But, having grown up working in the family plant nursery business, he soon found a career based inside an office building to be too constrictive (The mountains were calling, even then!) So, after achieving an MA from the University of Texas, George’s career took a different path as he worked at Austin Nature Center tending to resident critters and inspiring children to love nature as he did. Here, he began his writing career and went on to receive the Audubon Society Conservation award for his weekly columns in the “Austin Statesman.”
But again, the open road beckoned, and George set off on what became his life-long career and passion as he flew, rode, hiked, camped, photographed, interviewed, wrote, educated, guided and fascinated people, plants and humans all over the world as a freelance travel and nature photo journalist. He published in many national and international magazines and newspapers and became a tour guide for people wanting to be among the polar bears in Churchill, Canada; for hikers and naturalists in Costa Rica, and for salmon and grizzly bear enthusiasts in Alaska, where he met Carole, who became his partner in life and loving wife.
George and Carole moved to New Mexico in 2008-to retire--and for George to be closer to his beloved children and grandchildren. Here, he immersed himself in the New Mexico outdoors, becoming inspired by the beauty of the desert, the art and culture of the original people and, of course, the flora and fauna native to the area. George soon became an expert in native plants and served as President of the Albuquerque chapter of the Native Plant Society.
As for lifelong accomplishments, George is the author of more than 25 books on native plants, pollinators, and wildflowers. And he received Texas Reference Source Award for Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas. As another famous Texan, Lady Bird Johnson, once said “Native plants give us a sense of where we are in this great land of ours.” In his life, George did that for each of us in different ways—his gentle spirit gave us a sense of where we are in this great land of ours.
George will be remembered, honored and forever present by those he leaves behind as we feel the sun on our faces, see the bees and butterflies hovering around flowers and hear bird song in quiet places. He is survived by his wife Carole Price; his son Koda and 2 granddaughters, Jordan and Madison; his daughter Heather and 3 grandsons, Colvin, Holton and Armstrong; brother- and sister-in law Bob and Lillian Price; and many other friends and family members in Texas, New Mexico and Pennsylvania. To we, the survivors, remember this Cherokee saying: When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice. We should think today that, as we cry, George is indeed rejoicing.
Aside from his plant knowledge, George was an avid birder, and so we end with this very fitting quote from John James Audubon: The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those who sang the best.
Today the woods are not silent. For George, all the birds are singing together their sweet songs for this man as he soars among them.
And finally-a prayer from native American Chief Dan George:
May the stars carry your sadness away, may the flowers fill your heart with beauty, may hope forever wipe away your tears and may silence make you strong.
In lieu of flowers, George would like donations made to the Carter Conservation Fund, sent to Native Plant Society of New Mexico, PO box 35388, Albuquerque, NM 87176. Thank you.