Joseph Eugene Miller, 70

Joseph Eugene Miller, aged 70, died during March 2021. He was the son of the late Fred E. and Mary (Martin) Miller. He grew up in Central Pennsylvania, where he attended Rossmere Mennonite church as a youth. He attended Manatee Jr. College in Florida and was a graduate of Eastern Mennonite College in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

As an adult, Joseph moved to Philadelphia where he earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing and spent many years in ER, recovery room, and other positions with hospitals in Fresno, CA; Lancaster, PA; Temple, Parkview and St. Agnes Hospitals in Philadelphia; Fitzgerald Mercy in Delaware County; and the former Montgomery Hospital in Norristown, PA.

Joe had a robust life. His interests included Philatetic pursuits, watching NFL games, bowling, board games, crossword and jigsaw puzzles, photography, cooking, beachgoing, baking, gardening and listening to oldies radio or National Public Radio (NPR). He especially liked listening to hymns or acapella church music. He eagerly awaited the winter music retreats held each year and Laurelville Mennonite Retreat Center.

His musical tastes were not limited. He enjoyed secular musical artists: Corey Hart, Bruce Springsteen, Patsy Cline & Loretta Lynn, Elton John, Peter Paul & Mary, Bob Dylan, New Order, Diana Ross, U2, Bette Midler, Mike & The Mechanics, Village People, Pet Shop Boys, Rod Stewart, Carly Simon, The Bee Gees, James Ingram, George Benson, Carole King, The Beatles, Crosby Stills, Nash & Young, Erasure, Peabo Bryson, The Mama’s and The Papas, Backstreet Boys, Depeche Mode, Taylor Dayne, Enya, Barbara Streisand, Abba, Samuel Barber, Elvis Presley, and Rufus Wainwright.

Joe was a progressive thinker who supported civil rights in general and LGBTQIA rights in particular. He was an early member of the Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns (BMC), as well as Black/White Men Together/ Men of All Colors Together (BWMT/MACT).

Before the days of luxury cineplexes, Joe enjoyed seeing shows at Philadelphia’s various Ritz theater locations, The Roxy, and Theater of the Living Arts (TLA). His favorite movies, plays and musicals included “Like Water for Chocolate,” “The Boys in the Band,” “Sunday, Bloody Sunday,” and the films of John Waters and Pedro Almodovar.

He was enthralled by Judy Garland, Liza Minelli and Joel Gray, and Joe sometimes took in shows like “Evita,” “Rent,” “Phantom of the Opera,” and “Cats,” much of the time off broadway. Joe was also a big Sean Connery/Bond enthusiast.

He regularly patronized progressive men’s piano bar taverns such as Woody’s, the former Key West, The Tally-Ho, The Lark Bar, and Norristown’s WSC as well as both straight and mixed dance clubs in Philadelphia & New Hope such as Egypt On The Waterfront and The Cartwheel.

Joe travelled extensively, from Mission trips in his youth, to Haiti and across the U.S. including Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, New York, and Provincetown, Mass. He was a huge NASA fan, often watching live launches and collective commemorative merchandise. He named two of his former cats after rockets, capsules, or space missions, and he lived to see the first pictures from the Mars rover named “Perseverance.” In addition, Joe was an ardent fan of food-related shows on PBS featuring Jeff Smith, Julia Child, Ming Sai and the so-called “Two Fat Ladies.” Joe often binge-watched his favorite Food Network/Cooking Channel personalities such as Andrew Zimmern, Jamie Oliver, Bobby Flay, Nigella Lawson, Ina Garten, Marcus Samuelsson and the late Anthony Bourdain, whose death Joe took particularly hard.

Although he was friendly towards moderate Republicans such as the late Congressman John Fox, Joe was a lifelong Democrat who cherished meeting former Philadelphia mayor and PA governor Ed Rendell. Joe also proudly supported Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.

During the 80s and 90s he supported the local efforts of Pride of Philadelphia Election Committee (POPEC), Human Rights Campaign Fund (HRCF), BETAK, BEBASHI, and he was friends with the late Dr. Peter Mazzoni for whom the Mazzoni Center in Philadelphia is named.

A former parishioner, occasional song leader and church treasurer for Germantown Mennonite Church, he later joined Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster.

Joe was extremely bright and was a candidate for Mensa Society membership. Despite a decades-old battle with Seasonal Affective Disorder and undiagnosed behavioral health issues, Joe retained his penchant for random facts and quirky humor until the end.

Joe was ever so briefly married to his longtime companion, former freelance writer for PGN Bobby T. Jackson, with nuptials performed by Judge Dan Anders. Though the marriage was not long, the two had a complex, layered and loving relationship over a thirty-year period.

In addition to his ex-husband, Joe is survived by his siblings Jerry, Alvin, and Paul, his sister Marti, many nieces, nephews, cousins and extended family in the Amish & Mennonite communities.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent, if desired, to your local PBS or NPR station, or any of the following: the American Liver Foundation or PAI/Excentia in Lancaster.

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