A native of Harrisburg, Pa., he lived his entire adult life in Philadelphia.
He was graduated, in 1880, from that city's Central High School and, in
1883, from the University of Pennsylvania.
Thereafter he entered the business founded by his father, Jacob Miller's
Sons and Company, shirt manufacturers, and later became its president.
The firm, one of the oldest in its field in this country, is still in family
hands and Mr. Miller was active in its affairs until a few weeks before
his death at the age of eighty-three.
During his business career of more than sixty years, his reputation
for probity became axiomatic in the trade as did his name as a just and
kindly employer in labor circles. His counsel was sought on both levels.
On one occasion he was appointed by the late Judge Charles Y. Audenreid
to decide a question of fact as a layman for the court in an important
business suit. He had the respect and liking of labor leaders.
Beginning in 1892 till his death, for 52 years Mr. Miller was an,executive
director of the Philadelphia Manufacturers Mutual Fire Insurance company,
the oldest mutual company in this countrv. He was the only Jewish member
of a board that included some of the most distinguished businessmen in
the Philadelphia area.
But the humanity, good will, and ripe wisdom of Simon Miller's nature
overflowed from his vocation to his avocation which abided in the concern
and pleasure he felt in Jewish cultural, communal, and educational affairs.
The son of pious parents, he was a genuinely religious man though no
formalist. He was proud of his Jewish spiritual inheritance and cherished
it, but his breadth of tolerance for all races and creeds was his crowning
grace. He was Bar Mitzvah at Philadelphia's reform Rodeph Sholom Synagogue
of which he remained a member all his life, one of the most widely-known
and loved among its congregation.
In 1888, Mr. Miller married Hettie Herzberg, daughter of Herz Herzberg,
graduate of Heidelberg University, who afterwards became a merchant in
Philadelphia. They had three daughters, in whose education their father
took a more than usually wise and tender parental interest, and therefore
led Mr. Miller to an even more active interest in communal education and
After more than a half century of happy and devoted married life, Mrs.
Miller died almost exactly one year before her husband, in August of 1944.
Simon Miller's intellectual and cultural interests were almost Franklinesque
in their diversity. A man of scholarly bent and keen scientific curiosity,
he was an ardent and gifted amateur of science as well as of history and
literature, especially Jewish literature, sacred and secular. As a young
man he was an absorbed spare-time student of the "electrical phenomenon"
then being investigated at Philadelphia's Franklin Institute. He loved
nothing better than to putter about with automobile engines in the days
when they were far less predictable than they are now. He inventcd
many minor mechanical improvements for use in his business which at one
time included weaving as well as shirt making. But his horizons were not
limited to mechanics. Like Benjamin Franklin, who was one of his heroes,
Simon Miller was by instinct both experimenter and scholar.
And his lifelong love and reverence for Jewish scholarship found its
fullest satisfaction in the Jewish Publication Society of America. He became
a member of that Society's Board of Trustees in l898, and second vice-president
in 1908. In 1913, he became its president and remained in that office for
During his administration the Society published some of its most important
works, including the great translation of the Bible by a board of eminent
scholars who made the first translation from the original Hebrew directly
Mr. J. Solis-Cohen, president of the Society and Mr. Miller's successor,
wrote the following tribute which appeared shortly after Mr. Miller's death
in the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent:
Simon Miller had a genuine interest in Jewish literature of
every type, scholarly and fictional, historical and poetical, juvenile
and judicial. His prime communal activity for nearly half a century was
The Jewish Publication Society of which he was the president for two decades,
from 1913 to 1933.
His associations with the scholars and writers whom he met as president
of the Publication Society and the many friendships that arose therefrom
were always a source of unassuming pride and pleasure to Mr. Miller. Among
those friends were, particularly, Dr. Solomon Schechter, Dr. Max L. Margolis,
and Mr. Miller's closest lifelong friend, Dr. Cyrus Adler, a fellow-member
of the Pennsylvania class of '83.
Originally elected to the Board of Trustees in 1898, he became vice-president
ten years later and succeeded Edwin Wolf as head of the Society in 1913.
During his administration many important projects were completed. Jewish
scholars and authors realized that in Simon Miller they had a real friend
who encouraged their research and literary efforts with publication and
wide distribution of their books.
Associated with Simon Miller during many of these years in directing
literary activities of The Jewish Publication Society were other Philadelphia
laymen, Judge Mayer Sulzberger, Dr. Cyrus Adler, Justice Horace Stern,
Dr. Solomon Solis-Cohen and others. This group had the respect and confidence
and support not only of the American Jewish public but of thoughtful Jews
all over the world.
During Simon Miller's presidency the new Bible translation was completed
and published; Marx and Margolies' comprehensive one volume History of
the Jews was issued, which has since been translated into three foreign
languages; funds were raised for the establishment of the Press Division
of The Society; The Schiff Library of Jewish Classics and the Jewish Community
Series were started.
What these books have meant to Jewish scholarship cannot be measured
by words. Few laymen in his or any other generation in America had the
perception, the understanding, and the driving force to see that these
and other volumes were published, with the realization that the written
words of great Jewish students, scholars and authors should be preserved
for posterity. Written in English, available for all interested in Jewish
Simon Miller carefully laid the foundations for "Jewish Books in every
His interest in The Society continued until his passing. He was a regular
and active participant in the proceedings of the Board of Trustees and
Publication Committee, encouraging and assisting the present administration
in continuing the work of The Publication Society on the high plane he
For many years Mr. Miller was the secretary and one of the leading spirits
in the "Pharisees," a unique club in Philadelphia, which counted among
its members writers, physicians, lawyers and journalists, leaders in the
intellectual and professional life of the community devoted to the discussion
and furtherance of Jewish and cognate culture. The club, which included
many brilliant minds, had its more relaxed social side, too, and Simon
Miller glowed quietly when supper had been disposed of, cigars lighted
and the good talk had begun.
A wise, loving, and unselfish personality, Simon Miller had the gift
of clairvoyant sympathy for many men at many levels. He liked people and
liked to be with them. And, as usual in such cases, people reciprocated
by liking him.
He counted among his friends all orders of men from distinguished scholars
and men of affairs to the janitor of his factory. He was accepted as an
intellectual equal by the learned and, without patronage or ostentation,
he was guide, philosopher, friend, and financial savior to many a humble
Perhaps the blending of the human and the intellectual, the scholarly
and the convivial in Simon Miller is indicated by the fact that while serving
in his scholarly-executive post as president of the Publication Society
he was a member of Philadelphia's most prominent social organization (The
Mercantile Club) and a member of its Committee on Admissions and House
He was also a member of the Mercantile bowling team, finding thereby,
in his middle years, some outlet for the perennial interest in athletics
which dated from his school and college days when he played football at
Central High School and the University of Pennsylvania.
An excellent amateur boxer and a paladin on the football field in his
early twenties, his athletic activities probably contributed to the iron
constitution that served him sturdily through life. He became in the fullness
of time one of the most robust of octogenarians. Until a few days before
his final illness, Mr. Miller went to his office daily. His mind remained
as vigorous as his body. His interest in his fellow-man, individually and
in the mass, stayed with him to the end. His sunset years were happy with
his family, which included seven devoted grandchildren and two great-grandchildren;
his many friends of all ages, his books, and his scrutiny of the state
of the world. His heart was also with the football wars of his Alma Mater.
When he was 82, Simon Miller still elbowed the crowds jauntily to attend
the University of Pennsylvania's football season where he could be found
in the cheering section, head bared, cheering himself hoarse and singing
One of his great prides, too, was the service button he wore for four
years with its five blue stars for his five grandsons and grandsons-in-law
in the Armed Forces.
Simon Miller's courage matched his kindliness and wisdom. It can he
said of him that all his life he was fearless in the right, willing to
fight for it and given to see the right more clearly than most men.
When, at the age of eighty-three, he was confronted with the inescapable
necessity of a dangerous operation, he faced the ordeal with quiet fortitude.
And when, at the harvest of his many years, it was decreed that he was
to go, one felt that Simon Miller went out into eternity as he had lived,
fearlessly, with love in his heart and without reproach.