In an era when sales tax, and income tax were non existent and an additional horse for the hearse cost a nickel, Nicholas J. Miller founded his funeral home. The year was 1889, he was 32 years old and the N.J. Miller Funeral Home was located in downtown Rochester, N.Y. at 92 North Clinton Avenue (near Main and State Streets). Nicholas was both a cabinet maker and an upholsterer who made his own caskets. He moved to 90 North Street and eventually to 100 North Street, where he remained in business until his death. Nicholas died in his home on Manitou Street on October 16, 1916, at which time the reins of business were turned over to his son, Edward A. Miller.
Edward A. Miller 1888 – 1950
Struggle To Remain
Edward A. renamed the firm N.J. Miller’s Son Funeral Home and his initial years were not unlike any other struggling entrepreneur. During his career he moved from the leased funeral home on North Street to the South Avenue funeral home (purchased circa 1927).
Edward settled down with his wife Emma (Frank) and raised four children in the South Wedge area commonly called “Swillberg”.
Perhaps Edward’s persistent struggle to survive is best illustrated by a small event dealing with the purchase of a new funeral car. Edward purchased an automobile that was equipped with a new innovation – the automatic transmission. Despite repeated warnings by the salesman that he no longer needed to shift into different gears, Edward declined any instructions and drove off… only to be returned a short time thereafter without the transmission.
Despite this intractability, or perhaps because of it, he constructed the funeral home on Mount Hope Avenue (circa 1946). Edward A. died on September 13, 1950, in his home at 112 Gregory Hill Drive. Edward’s sons who had joined the firm at the conclusion of W.W.II, assumed management of the funeral homes.
Edward F. Miller 1920 – 2008
With the growth of the funeral homes Edward F. Miller incorporated the Firm in 1966 changing the name to Miller Funeral Homes, Inc. Edward, having been schooled at St. Boniface, Aquinas, & The University of Notre Dame went on to direct the funeral homes growth for 32 years until his retirement in 1982. Edward F., along with his wife Margaret (Kellett), raised a family of six children near the funeral home on Mount Hope Avenue.
Edward would not want any accolades or footnotes added to his career; but for myself and my sisters and brothers he was a wonderful father and remains our role model.
From this fourth generation of Millers, Edward J. Miller, after graduating from McQuaid Jesuit High School, Villanova University and the Rochester Institute of Technology MBA Program, succeeded his father; and is the current owner and president of the firm.
Edward married Lynda (Blauw) in 1974 (BLAUW’s Drug Store; South Clinton & Goodman Streets) and have raised a family of four children in Penfield, N.Y.
Edward J. Miller 1975 – Present
On January 15, 2000 my Father and I opened a new facility at the corner of Winton Road South and Jefferson Road. Having outgrown the other two facilities the funeral homes on Mount Hope Avenue and South Avenue were closed, and a new era was born to an old tradition.
Josh E. Miller 2003 – Present
It is a testament to those who came before me that this firm thrives today. This family business had traversed the ages from the birth of the automobile, to a man on the moon, and on to the electronic age where items are turning obsolete on their way home from the store. We take pride in the fact that generations of our family have been privileged to serve generations of Rochester families.
“What is most notable about our success and prosperity is that it is not ours alone. It mostly belongs to the sacrifices of our dedicated funeral directors and their supportive families that we have been privileged to work with over the years.”
Edward J. Miller