Obituary: William D. Miller / Financial planner with a wealth of friends

Died Nov. 1, 2012

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William D. Miller met his future wife at her ex-boyfriend's funeral.

For some people, that might have been awkward. For those who knew him, it was no surprise that he could find something lasting and good in an event soaked in sadness.

When he died suddenly Nov. 1, at age 64, his assistant received 40 emails telling stories about him from co-workers at the Pittsburgh financial planning firm Hefren-Tillotson, where he was a vice president and financial adviser, and from other friends -- most within hours.

"We would always joke around that he was my 'work husband,' that I had my real husband at home but I spent more time with Bill," Cindy Murry, Mr. Miller's financial assistant, said Saturday.

He wasn't just any financial planner. Pittsburgh Magazine called him a "Five Star Wealth Manager" and for years he was a co-host of KDKA-AM's "Your Money & You" Sunday radio program with Jim Meredith.

He served in Army intelligence during the Vietnam War but had a job cleaning Pittsburgh parks when his wife, Susan, joined a stock-picking club with some of her lady friends.

"Part of that was brochures from Hefren-Tillotson, and he read all the literature," Mrs. Miller said. "He listened to that radio show. He said 'I'm going to work for them and I'm going to be on that radio station.' "

He applied. And waited. And called. And called. And called.

"I guess he was a big enough pain [that] they called him in for an interview," Mrs. Miller said.

During his interview, he was asked if he had to be an animal, which one he'd be. He said a crow.

"What I remember is that he said crows live through so much and handle even debris well," she said.

Together they had two daughters, Marie and Brenda, a son, David, and one granddaughter, Livie.

And as he taught himself finance, he kept learning outside that world as well.

He wanted his lawn to be the pride of his Carrick street, so he taught himself how to make fertilizer with beer, dish soap, Karo syrup and other ingredients. He leveled the front yard himself and replanted it from scratch. "The grass felt like silk," his wife said.

Beer was a critical ingredient in his social life, too. He loved craft beer -- a style called India pale ale in particular -- and visited as many breweries as he could.

"He was always checking out different beers like people do wines," Mrs. Miller said.

But he didn't always treat his beer like a true beer snob, his assistant said. There was the thing he did with the olives.

"When Bill would order a beer in a bar, he'd ask for a green olive in it," she said. "When it was time to order another beer, he said, 'Don't bring me a new glass, use this one and put another olive in it.' That's how he kept track of how many he had."

He was known in the firm as a man who freely bestowed nicknames -- Kevin Krul and Unusual or Xena the Warrior Princess -- or spiritedly talking politics. But he was dedicated to his work.

"Our financial year closed Oct. 30," Ms. Murry said. "He finished the financial year before he left us -- he couldn't leave work undone. I just can't believe he went before he could vote for Mitt Romney."

Visitation will be at John F. Slater Funeral Home, 4201 Brownsville Road, Brentwood, today from 2 to 4 and 6 to 9 p.m. and Monday from 10 a.m. until a funeral at 11 a.m.


Correction/Clarification: (Published November 5, 2012) William D. Miller, who died Thursday, is survived by a son, David, in addition to his daughters, Marie and Brenda. His son's name was omitted from Mr. Miller's obituary Sunday. Mr. Miller's radio show aired on KDKA-AM. Also, John F. Slater Funeral Home is at 4201 Brownsville Road, Brentwood. The address was reported incorrectly.
obituaries

Jacob Quinn Sanders: jsanders@post-gazette.com.


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