March 3, 2014

We lost a dear friend and valued colleague on February 16, with the passing of emeritus faculty member Sidney Miller. 

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on December 15, 1922, Sidney was the third and youngest child of Louis Miller and Gussie Abzug.  After his father’s sudden death in 1924, the family moved a number of times to different parts of Brooklyn, relying on relatives to make ends meet.  Because of his family circumstances, Sidney went to night school at Brooklyn College, working days in the garment center at Abetta Blouse Company, a business owned by his uncle.

In 1943, Sidney was inducted into the U.S. Army Air Force, where he served as an airplane mechanic at American bases in England during World War II.  In the summer of 1945, at a dance in Norwich, England, Sidney met a beautiful young Londoner, Janet Clavering, who was serving in the WAAF, or women’s section of the Royal Air Force.

The war ended soon after their meeting and Sidney returned to New York, resuming work in the family garment business. He attended Brooklyn College night school again, and then transferred to Columbia University in 1949. That same year, Janet moved to New York to take a job with British Information Services. He met her at the dock, and they were married a month later. They enjoyed a loving 61-year marriage until Janet’s death in 2011.

With Janet’s support, Sidney earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Columbia University in 1951, and a master’s degree in psychiatric social work in 1953. That same year, the couple moved to Seattle where Sidney was employed as a social worker at the King County Juvenile Court. Later, he served for many years on the staff of the Ryther Child Center and then as an associate professor at the School of Social Work until his retirement in 1988.  

Sidney was a voracious reader and film buff, a follower of current events and a strong supporter of progressive political and human rights causes. He and Janet loved to travel, particularly throughout the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. He was an empathic listener as well as a skilled storyteller with a great sense of humor. He was devoted to his family and friends, and was greatly loved by all.  

Sidney is survived by three sons—Peter (Jean), Tim, and David (Susan)—and six grandchildren: Ellen, Anna, Claire, Julia, Joseph and Andie.

A celebration of Sidney’s life will be held Saturday, March 8 at 2 p.m. at the Horizon House, 900 University Street, Seattle.  In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to either the Ryther Child Center or the University of Washington School of Social Work, where the family is setting up a memorial fund in honor of Sidney.