Alan David Miller - 1922-2021

Alan David Miller died on February 27, 2021, at the age of 99. A physician, musician, public servant, a lover of literature and the arts; he met life with passionate energy, incisive intelligence, idealism, and commitment.

He leaves five children; eight grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren; and he was proud to have passed on to them a lifelong commitment to working for a more just society. He enjoyed a very long and varied career in psychiatry and public health, a richly engaged retirement, a far-flung circle of friends, colleagues, and extended family on whom his influence will always be deeply influential. Alan Miller was born in New York City in 1922, the eldest of two children of Jerome Miller, a dentist, and Sara Glusker Miller, a couple whose lives were dedicated to progressive social reform. Alan graduated from Amherst College in 1942 at the age of 20, and went on to complete medical school at New York University in 1945. In his National Board of Medicine exams, he received the highest score in the country in internal medicine. He completed his internship in Medicine and Surgery at Bellevue Hospital in NYC, then enlisted in the Public Health Service. He received further training in Syphilology (University of Michigan, 1946), Internal Medicine (U.S. Marine Hospital, New Orleans, 1947-48), Neuropsychiatry (U.S. Public Health Hospital, Fort Worth Texas, 1948-50), Public Health (Johns Hopkins University, 1951), Psychiatry (University of Maryland Psychiatric Institute, 1952-53). and Clinical and Social Psychiatry (The Maudsley Hospital and University of London, 1957-58). Alan's long career was informed by the belief that high quality health care was a human right. He was a commissioned officer in the United States Public Health Service from 1946-64, retiring at the rank of Medical Director (Colonel). During his time in the USPHS, Alan was the director of the Richmond, VA Municipal Hospital; staff psychiatrist at the Mental Health Study Center at the National Institute for Mental Health; director of the Mental Health Study Center with NIMH; Mental Health Program Director, USPHS Regional Office in Denver, Colo.; Special Assistant for Field Operations, Extramural Programs, NIMH; and Associate Chief for Operations Research, Community Research and Services Branch, NIMH. In 1964, Alan was appointed assistant commissioner, Division of Community Services, New York State Department of Mental Hygiene, and in 1966, he went on to become commissioner of the NY State DMH, remaining in that position until 1975. In those years, the Department of Mental Hygiene oversaw all activities and services to those with mental illness, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse issues. Alan's service spanned a decade of enormous turmoil in mental health care, as large hospitals began closing, and community-based mental health programs struggled to fill the gap. From 1975 to 1977, Alan was the director of the Whitney M. Young Community Health Center, a neighborhood health center in the Arbor Hill community in downtown Albany. In 1977 he became associate dean for Student Affairs at the Albany Medical College. There he took particular interest in supporting medical students in the challenging process of becoming physicians. During his tenure from 1977 to 1986, he mentored and befriended countless students in their professional and personal development. From 1986 to 1993 Alan returned to the New York Office of Mental Health, assigned through Kings Park Psychiatric Center to work with the Department of Psychiatry, SUNY Stony Brook, in order to enlarge the relationship between the two institutions. Thereafter he was a staff psychiatrist at the Capital District Psychiatric Center, primarily to integrate general and mental health care. Dr. Miller's services to professional organizations, his academic appointments, his publications, awards and honors were numerous. He also served many community organizations, including Project Equinox, a social service agency that dealt with problems not addressed by other agencies; Planned Parenthood; and Camphill Village in Copake and Hudson, N.Y., where those with developmental disabilities and volunteers live together as equals a principle central to Dr. Miller's treatment ideals. Dr. Miller had many other life interests and he brought to them the same acute intelligence and commitment he brought to his professional work. He was a devoted lifelong musician, who, as a violist, participated in many chamber music groups. He was a deeply informed listener whose early love of the arts began when his mother took him to theatre and concerts as a child, and he continued to attend concerts, plays, and other cultural events throughout his nineties. As a patron of public radio, he played a central role in the resurgence of WAMC, Albany's public radio station. He also loved to be out on his boat, most often with his family, up and down the Eastern seaboard. In all of his ventures, personal and professional, he valued deeply the friends he found, among them, his cherished friends Judith Nigro, and Beatrice Kovasznay. Alan was devoted to his family; his wife, his children, and their families. When his wife of more than 50 years, Judith Immerman Miller, died in 2017, he felt her loss keenly. He spoke with pride of his children, Matthew A. Miller, Karen L. Miller, Julia K. Hatt, Margaret D. Miller, and Dan B. Miller; and of the choice each made to choose professions of public service. His greatest gift to them may have been his life, itself deeply felt, courageous, lit by his fierce intelligence; he was always eager for the next adventure. Dr. Miller's family requests that anyone who wishes to donate in his honor send their donations to: or To leave a condolence message for the family, please visit