Maynard M. Miller (1921 - 2014)

Dr. Maynard Miller, the beloved founder and long-time director of JIRP, passed away January 26th at his home in Moscow, Idaho. 

In the coming days and weeks we will be adding more images, stories, videos, and history of his phenomenal life.  Eventually this content  will be stored permanently on a dedicated page of the JIRP website. 

Until then, however, we will be adding content here on the JIRP blog.  One intention for this is so that you can share a remembrance of Mal; please do so in the comments below and help us honor and memorialize Dr. Miller.  

If you would like to contribute images, stories, or videos in Mal's remembrance please be in touch with FGER Vice President Matt Beedle by email (

Dr. Maynard Miller on the Juneau Icefield.  Photo courtesy of the Miller family.

Dr. Maynard Miller on the Juneau Icefield.  Photo courtesy of the Miller family.


Dr. Maynard Malcolm Miller on a Juneau Icefield Expedition in November, 1953.  Photo by Ira Spring.

Dr. Maynard Malcolm Miller on a Juneau Icefield Expedition in November, 1953.  Photo by Ira Spring.

Maynard Malcolm Miller, explorer, committed educator and noted scientist whose glaciological research was among the first to identify hard evidence of global climate change as a result of human industrial activity, died on January 26 at his home in Moscow, Idaho. He was 93.

Dr. Miller was Emeritus Professor at the University of Idaho where he previously served as Dean of the College of Mines and Earth Resources, and Director of the Glaciological and Arctic Sciences Institute. The Institute, along with the Juneau Icefield Research Program, founded in 1946 and developed in partnership with his late wife Joan Walsh Miller, inspired more than 4000 students through hands on involvement in scientific research in remote mountain environments in Alaska and around the world.

As a scientist and climber on America’s first Mt. Everest Expedition in 1963, Miller conducted research on atmospheric pollution and other contributors to climate change. On that historic expedition, as the West Ridge climbers returned from the summit, Miller sacrificed his precious scientific water samples, laboriously collected from the Khumbu Icefall, in order to rehydrate the exhausted climbers.

Although a deeply spiritual person, Maynard Miller did not believe in any God of organized religion; instead, he found inspiration in the magnificence and wonder of nature. He also believed that through the challenge of rugged mountain expeditions, where teamwork is essential to achieve a common goal, the best in each individual may be revealed. His great joy was to share and provide these experiences for others.

A native of the Northwest, Miller graduated from Stadium High School in Tacoma, Washington. He studied geology and glaciology, receiving degrees from Harvard University and Columbia University, and his PhD from Cambridge University, England. During WWII Miller served on a Navy destroyer, seeing active duty in 11 major Pacific campaigns and sustaining injuries during an aircraft attack at sea. Late in life, Miller served three terms in the Idaho State House of Representatives where he advocated for expanding educational opportunities.

He will be remembered for his enthusiasm, unrelenting optimism and phrases such as, “stress helps you grow” and his closing on mountain radio transmissions, “mighty fine, mighty fine”.

Miller is survived by his sons and their spouses, Ross Miller (Denise), and Lance Miller (Jana). Miller also leaves behind his beloved grandchildren, Logan, Anna, Zachary and Eva, extended family in the Puget Sound area as well as scores of grateful students, scientific collaborators and co-adventurers.

Celebrations of the life of Maynard Malcolm Miller will be announced at a future date.

Newspaper and other print articles:

Remembering Dr. Maynard 'Mal' Miller, by Mary Catharine Martin, Juneau Empire, Feb. 14, 2014

A Remembrance of Dr. Maynard M. Miller, by Eduardo Crespo, April 4, 2014

Tribute to Dr. Maynard M. Miller, by Keith Daellenbach, Feb. 27, 2011

Educator and scientist Maynard Miller Dies at 93, AAG Newsletter, Feb. 18, 2014

Book: 'Memories of Maynard M. Miller and Other Juneau Icefield Lore'

For a limited time only (while supplies last) you can purchase a copy of a revised, spiral-bound 2nd edition of the 2011 Memories of Maynard M. Miller and Other Juneau Icefield Lore. Total cost, including shipping and handling, is $35. All proceeds go directly to JIRP.

Articles by Dr. Maynard Miller

On Reaching Upward, published in Appalachia in 1950

Historical audio and video from KTOO Radio - Juneau:

Thank you to KTOO's Matter Miller (@KTOOMatt) for this content.

Remembering Mal

"Some years ago, after the JIRP presentation and all the students had departed Atlin, Mal dropped in at my place for a chat and to share some nice red wine he had with him. Naturally we discussed the state of the world, and JIRP and other programs. As we came to relaxed and much more cheerful final comments, he said to me 'You know, it's kids like this that give me hope for the future. They really care, and they worked so well together (contented sigh).' Thanks, Mal!"

-- Nan Love, Atlin, BC

Image gallery:

Select any of the photos below to open a slideshow of all the images.