In Memoriam: Arthur R. "Rocky" Miller


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with great sorrow the death October 27, 2005 of retiree Arthur Rockwell Miller of Falmouth at his home. He was 90.

Arthur Rockwell “Rocky” Miller was born August 6, 1915 in Boston and attended Arlington High School, receiving a diploma in 1933. He took courses at Cambridge Jr. College for a year in 1935-1936 and received a commercial certificate from Bryant & Stratton in Boston in 1939.  He served in the Navy during World War II as a chief special artificer, operating and maintaining electronic and optical training devices. Prior to the war he had worked with early radar for the Research Construction Corporation in Cambridge and the Faraday Electric Company of Boston.

After the war Rocky settled in Falmouth with his late wife Florence and joined the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution staff as a research assistant in February 1946, working with Joe Worzel.  He was appointed a physical oceanographer in 1950, research associate in 1951, research associate in physical oceanography in August 1953, and associate scientist in 1963.  During this time he took a leave of absence to work as an associate professor at Rutgers University in 1951 and at the Oyster Research Laboratory in Bivalve, NJ, during 1952-1953.

Early in his career Rocky studied the circulation of the Gulf Stream and its effects on coastal regions. In 1950 he was sent to Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, CA, for a year to study tides and storm surges. Using this knowledge he worked as a consultant to the U.S. Weather Bureau after Hurricane Carol devastated the New England region in 1955 to better understand the effects of weather on storm surges and tides.  

His work took an international turn in January 1958 when he departed Woods Hole aboard research vessel Atlantis for Capetown, South Africa, to study how deep water currents were formed in the South Atlantic as part of the International Geophysical Year in 1958.  Later that year he visited the National Institute of Oceanography in Wormley, England (later the Institute of Oceanographic Sciences) to participate on a cruise in the Bay of Cadiz.  Soon after he was introduced to leaders from France and Monaco who were interested in doing similar work in the Mediterranean through the International Council for Exploration of the Mediterranean Sea. He became an advisor to Greece and Egypt on oceanographic science, and served as a U.S. delegate to Mediterranean scientific conferences.

Rocky made many cruises to the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea in the 1960s which provided data for the 1970 publication of Volume III of the Institution Atlas Series, Mediterranean Sea Atlas of temperature, salinity, and oxygen profiles, coauthored with P. Tchernia and Henry Charnock. With research interests in general physical oceanography, computer technology and bibliography, Rocky was the author or co-author of about 50 scientific publications. After retiring from  WHOI in March 1980 he founded The Associated Scientists of WHOI, a consulting group of retired scientists.

Rocky served as a town meeting member for many years. He was active in the Falmouth Stamp Club, and was a charter member. He also was involved with the Boy Scouts and sailed as a member of the Woods Hole Yacht Club.

Survivors include a son, Richard H. Miller of New Haven, CT; a daughter, Carole Kuenzler of Acton, MA; and four grandchildren.

Visiting hours will be Sunday, October 30, from 3 to 5 p.m. at Chapman Cole & Gleason, 475 Main St., Falmouth. A funeral service will be held Monday, October 31, at 10:00 a.m. at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church on the Village Green in Falmouth. Memorial donations may be made to Falmouth Hospital, 100 Ter Heun Drive, Falmouth, MA 02540 or to JML Care Center, 184 Ter Heun Drive, Falmouth, MA 02540.


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(Courtesy WHOI Archives)