Warren Quincy Miller ’67, February 4, 2014, in Clarkston, Washington, following a 12-year battle with cancer.
Warren grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Phoenix, Arizona, taking many camping trips with his family to the mountains and deserts of the West—trips that influenced his life and his land ethic. Gay Walker ’69 remembers Warren as having a quiet and pleasant disposition and as a good calligrapher. They studied together with Lloyd Reynolds [English & art 1929–69] in his calligraphy and graphic arts class in 1966–67.
During the summers of his Reed years, Warren worked at the Teton Valley Ranch and for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) in Arizona and Washington. After graduating with a BA in physics from Reed, he went abroad to Europe, traveling with only a knapsack and with an idea of finding employment there. Gay was in London at the time for a junior year abroad and met Warren there. They hiked all over northeast London to Victoria Park. From a rubbish pile behind an apartment building, they foraged edible mushrooms and cooked them in her dorm room. Gay says, “He was entertaining, already a lover of the outdoors, and a good judge of mushrooms!” Warren spent a winter reading in London and a winter working with an avalanche research center in the Swiss Alps.
In the early ’70s, he moved to Idaho, and for decades was a ranger in the only all-wilderness ranger district, the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. He also worked in the Nez Perce National Forest and was facilities manager for the U.S. Forest Service in the Moose Creek Ranger District. His did campsite and trail maintenance, location surveys, and trail crew management. He also performed range condition surveys and surface-water surveys of high elevation alpine lakes. Warren’s interest in preserving the skills of traditional tool maintenance and use, in particular the sharpening and use of crosscut saws, led to his training with master filer Martin Winters, and subsequently to long hours of practice, further research, and the publication in 1977 of his Cross-Cut Saw Manual, which is considered the premier training guide for the skill in the U.S. (He taught the skill through an annual training program for 20 years, and for the centennial celebration of the USFS in 2005, he demonstrated the skill at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C.)
Warren established a minimum-impact homestead up Little Canyon east of Peck, Idaho, utilizing solar panels and transporting water by hand. Focusing on his interest in the physics of optics, computers, and photogrammetry, and in natural history, he partnered with wilderness conservationist Dick Walker on aerial photography contracts to document the health of regional stream drainages and caribou wintering grounds in the Selkirk Mountains of Washington state, the Idaho Panhandle, and southern British Columbia. At a contra dance in 1990, sponsored by the Palouse Folklore Society, Warren met Sandra Lilligren, a graduate student in geology and a parent, who shared his love of wilderness, having grown up in an USFS family in southern Oregon. They explored the West together on canoe and rafting trips and on hikes and camping adventures. Semiretired in the ’90s, Warren worked at a variety of odd jobs. He was a strong and gentle man, treasured for his ethic, his humor, and his joy.
“Warren made a wonderful career and life of his commitment to the life of authenticity, dedicated to conservation and preservation of the environment,” says Linda Blackwelder Pall ’67. “This was nurtured at Reed and blossomed to fruition in the wilderness Northwest, especially in north central Idaho. We will miss his presence and realize that we shall not see the likes of him again.” Survivors include his wife and her daughter and family, his brother, and extended family. A celebration of Warren’s life will take place at Hells Gate State Park in Lewiston, Idaho, on May 31. It will be an informal gathering along the Snake River providing an opportunity to share stories and a potluck. Contributions in his memory may be made to the William R. (Bud) and Jane Buckhouse Moore graduate research at the University of Montana, Missoula; to the Selway-Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation; or to any other conservation organization.
Appeared in Reed magazine: June 2014