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Warren D. Miller Jr., last private owner of Williamsville Water Mills

Oct. 5, 1946 – March 14, 2015

Warren D. Miller Jr. of Williamsville, the last private owner of the Williamsville Water Mill and a retired Army colonel, died Saturday in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Amherst, after a lengthy battle with prostate cancer and heart disease. He was 68.

Born in Buffalo, Mr. Miller had a 30-year career with the Army, retiring in 1997. He served with the 221st Engineers Group, the 209th Field Artillery Brigade and the 42nd Infantry Division at Masten Avenue Armory.

Mr. Miller ran many community service projects for the Army National Guard. He was the officer in charge of snow removal in the City of Buffalo during the Blizzard of ’77 and oversaw the restoration of the athletic fields at Groton High School in Groton.

During the 1970s, Mr. Miller served as a patrolman with the Buffalo Police Department, working out of the former Precinct 16. Afterward, he continued to participate in the department’s Pistol Team.

The Williamsville Water Mill was in his family for 139 years and was the oldest, continuously operating business in Western New York.

With Mr. Miller at the helm from 1986 to 2004, the milling operation continued as it had during the 1800s, using the original milling stones imported from France and water from Ellicott Creek to run the turbines.

He was responsible for upgrading the mill’s cider-processing business by lining the original wood pressing equipment with stainless steel and instituting a method of removing bacteria and other pathogens from the cider by using an ultraviolet process developed at Cornell University.

During his ownership, the mill pressed an average of 70,000 pounds of apples every season.

He also was known for his generosity in providing free historical tours of the mill for schoolchildren; it was estimated that he provided tours to an average of 2,000 students each cider season.

After Mr. Miller’s second open-heart surgery in 2004, he was too ill to continue to operate it, and sold the mill to the Village of Williamsville.

Mr. Miller had a bachelor’s degree in science. In the field of engineering, he was one of the first instructors approved by the state Department of Health in the field of backflow prevention, and was a Health Department instructor for more than 25 years. He provided consulting services to the Towns of Elma and Batavia – also serving the latter as assistant engineer – on backflow device installation and public water service developments.

Survivors include his wife, the former Marguerite Dao; three daughters, Arika Pevenstein, Andrea Mahoney and Lydia; and a son, Thomas.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday in Calvary Episcopal Church, 20 Milton St., Williamsville.