Dr. David James “Jim” Miller, 78, business owner, mining executive, Ph.d chemist, attorney, pilot and philanthropist, passed away unexpectedly and peacefully on Nov. 22, 2019 surrounded by his family. Jim is survived by his wife Sonia (his college sweetheart), children David (Suzanne), Darius (Saralyn), Dorise (Rond), grandchildren Ali (Shaun), David James, Olivia, Grace, Juliana, Jenson, and great-grandchildren Liam, Emerson, and Leighton.
“Jimmy” was the beloved son of Homer and Emma Miller, brother to H.F. and Ralph Miller, and uncle to numerous nieces and nephews. Jim was also a dear friend and mentor to a countless number of people across the entire globe. Jim cherished spending time with his family and friends, flying his WWII Boeing N2S Stearman, writing, automobile racing, hunting, fishing and all things New Orleans. “Poppa Jim” especially enjoyed attending school activities, sports, and theater with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, of whom he was incredibly proud.
A native of Norco, Jim received his bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Tulane University in 1963 and a masters of science degree in chemistry from the Graduate School of Louisiana State University in New Orleans (now the University of New Orleans) in 1965. He was employed by Freeport Sulphur Co. in 1965 at its Belle Chasse, La., Research and Development Laboratory. While still employed by Freeport, he entered the graduate school of Tulane University from where in 1970 he received his Ph.D. Degree in chemistry and was promoted to senior research chemist. His industrial research concentrated on various aspects of mineral recovery, including the basic and applied chemistry of sulphur, phosphorous, nickel, cobalt, copper, aluminum, uranium and rare earths. In 1977, he received his Juris Doctor Degree from Loyola University School of Law. The following year, Jim was appointed Assistant Director of Environmental Affairs for Freeport Minerals Co. and was later named director of Environmental Affairs of Freeport-McMoRan Inc. At the time of his passing he was vice president of Safety and Environmental Affairs of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. Jim and another senior executive from Freeport-McMoRan Inc. formed Crescent Technology, Inc. in 1993. Crescent Technology Inc. performed environmental, safety, engineering, laboratory analysis, and research and development in the mining industry with a worldwide client base.
Jim is the author of nine scientific papers in the field of basic and applied chemistry and is the co-editor of the book “Sulphur Research Trends.” He holds 10 United States and numerous foreign patents. He was chairman of the UNO College of Science Board of Visitors, and a member of the American Chemical Society, serving as chairman of its Louisiana Section. As a member of the Louisiana Bar Association, he served as vice chairman of the Environmental Law Section. He also was either currently serving on or was a past board member of the Audubon Institute, Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, the Institute for Recyclable Materials, the Bureau of Government Research, WYES-TV, New Orleans’ Public Broadcast station, and on the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Drinking Water Advisory Council for two four-year terms. He was awarded the University of New Orleans College of Science Distinguished Alumni Award in 1996. He was awarded the UNO Homer L. Hitt Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award in 2001. Jim also was Freeport-McMoRan’s representative on the ICMM’s Executive Working Group, and was Chairman of the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine Dean’s Advisory Council.
After a private ceremony, Jim was laid to rest at St. Charles Borromeo in Destrehan. A celebration of his life is planned for the near future.
Jim was passionate about education, and if you choose to do so, it would be an honor to him and his memory to donate to the American Indian College Fund in his name.
Jim’s accomplishments are many and he will be dearly missed.