Park Hays Miller, 70, Dies in La Jolla; Famed Physicist

Services will be held Monday for world-renowned physicist Park Hays Miller, who died in his La Jolla home Wednesday after a long illness. He was 70.

Miller worked in recent years on research for the Strategic Defense Initiative, also known as "Star Wars." Developing ways to use atomic fusion as an option to the currently used atomic fission was Miller's goal.

"He was a genius," his wife, Patricia Grisham Miller, said. "Science was the greatest love in his life. He had a great imagination, which is what a physicist needs.

"He enjoyed his work so much. He met Einstein and knew Oppenheimer, but he was a pacifist, peaceful . . . he didn't have a belligerent bone in his body."

Miller was active in the San Diego scientific community, well-known for his involvement in the annual elementary school Science Fair and a founder of the San Diego Hall of Science.

"He was one of the judges for more than 30 years at that science fair," Patricia Miller said. "He loved seeing what the kids did."

A native of Philadelphia, Miller received a doctorate from the California Institute of Technology in 1940, and worked as a defense consultant during World War II.

Miller joined General Atomics--now known as AC Technologies--in San Diego in 1956.

He became director of research there in 1959, and initiated a project using direct conversion of heat from electricity.

Miller was head of the physics department at United States International University from 1969 to 1974.

He returned to General Atomics in 1974 as the senior physicist in the fusion, science and technology department, but became a consultant to the firm in 1981 when he formed his own consulting firm, Extra Galactic Enterprises.

Survivors include his wife; two daughters, Karin Wiburg of Poway and Tina Miller of Kent, Wash.; a son, Park Hays Miller III of San Jose; two stepchildren, Michael Grisham of Santa Cruz and Cathleen Hornsby of La Jolla; a sister, Grace Loetscher of Princeton, N.J., and 10 grandchildren.

The Mass of the Resurrection will be said at 4 p.m. Monday at Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church in La Jolla. An Irish wake will follow at the Miller home.

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