Obituary: Robert J. Milie | Greensburg lawyer, school solicitor had 'civil, tactful manner'

Sept. 28, 1929 - July 4, 2014

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At family gatherings, in court and at school board meetings, Robert J. Milie wasn't a booming voice. He was, instead, the guy who quietly approached the right person and said exactly what was needed to move matters forward.

"He sat back and took it all in, and then if he approached you about a concern, he approached you in a civil, tactful manner," said Joe Giotto, nephew to Mr. Milie, 84, who died Friday at the Cranberry home to which he had moved to be close to family. "He was very observant, very objective."

He was also very busy, leading a family with his wife, Josephine, and running a Greensburg law practice for more than half a century, while serving in several volunteer roles. A believer in education, he served as solicitor to the Derry Area School District for three decades, and he served as president of the board at Greensburg Central Catholic High School, where his three children were educated.

Raised in Vandergrift, Mr. Milie absorbed the best of the character of that river town, his daughter Marie Milie Jones said.

"Just the love of family. In a small town, your family is a big focus," Ms. Milie Jones said. "And the hard work ethic."

A graduate of St. Vincent College and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Mr. Jones served with the Army Judge Advocate General's Corps in Korea. He did not return with tales of derring-do.

"Dad was so humble, so low-key," Ms. Milie Jones said. "He helped soldiers with legal issues, so he served in a professional way."

Setting up shop in Greensburg, Mr. Milie practiced general law from a storefront on Pittsburgh Street. He eventually developed a specialty in municipal law, and especially in school matters.

"He didn't care about any recognition in return," said Mr. Giotto, who taught physical education and health at Derry Area and coached several teams there. "He was old school. He wanted to make a living. But it wasn't about how much bucks I can make from the school district. It was about getting it right."

Mr. Milie advised the district through building projects in the 1970s and early 1990s. While board realignments often cost solicitors their jobs, he kept his post despite the fact that he didn't play politics.

Mr. Milie applied the law in all of his roles, which included solicitor of Hempfield's Zoning Hearing Board. When residents of the Roseytown neighborhood opposed a driving range, for instance, he told them that there was no legal grounds to deny it, though the board could impose conditions.

Ms. Milie Jones, a defense attorney who also serves governments, remembered accompanying him to his office and sometimes to court. "I think I got [into law] from seeing how he took care of his clients and how it allowed him to take care of his family," she said.

The downside: Long nights at meetings, as his schedule bulged with such obligations as solicitor for the Eastern Westmoreland Career & Technology Center and president of the Westmoreland County Bar Association.

Another daughter, Roberta Delazio, worked part time in the law office. She also gave him his lone grandchild, Alexandra, now 18, who became the focus of his later years.

Mr. Milie set up a basketball hoop in the driveway of their modest Hempfield home and often shot baskets with his son, Mark. He and Mark -- and later Josephine -- became golfing partners, too.

Visitation is set for 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Monday at Devlin Funeral Home of Cranberry, 2678 Rochester Road, and the funeral will follow at 11 a.m. Monday at St. Killian Church in Mars.

Rich Lord: or 412-263-1542. Twitter @richelord

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