Lotus Simon Miller

Honored by:Wilmer Jay Miller, Alan Frederick Miller, and Douglas Lindley Miller
Brick location:PAVER:7  map

Lotus Simon was born 13 August, 1924, in Portland, Oregon. She was the younger of 2 sisters. Both were named after attractive flowers. (Her sister Calypso, however, generally preferred the nickname Mitzi.)

Her parents were born in the USA of immigrant German stock. Her mother, named Johanna Maria Louisa Augusta Wilhelmina Fredericka Theresa George, was born 19 May, 1892, in Portland, Oregon. Johanna's father was a cutler from Hamburg and her mother was from Saxony near Erfurt. Lotus' father, Leo Frederick Felix Simon, was born in San Francisco, California, 18 June, 1890, and moved to Portland with his family in 1902 by train and stage coach. Leo's father was from Kifflach in Baden and his mother from Erfurt in Saxony. Leo F. Simon was a portrait and later a commercial photographer. But his main interests were in Nature. In part self-educated, Leo belonged to at least 17 different natural history organizations with special interest in the Oregon Audubon Society, Geological Society of the Oregon Country, the Native Plant Society of Oregon and the Men's Garden Club of America (he won the National Johnny Appleseed Award in 1969). Over 450 species of plants bloomed in their home lot (50 x 100 ft) which included a house, garage, a ground level bird bath framed by a bamboo colony and a 12-foot rockery with microhabitats for native species. Being outspoken in his enthusiasm for Nature, he became president of many of these organizations and imparted his love of Nature to Lotus.

Lotus graduated from Reed College in Portland (just a mile from her home) in 1946 with her senior thesis on "Zonation of Intertidal Animals of Boiler Bay Oregon". [She chose this topic to become more expert than her father in at least one area]. She graduated with a B.A. degree as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and president of her senior class. Lotus then entered graduate work at the University of Wisconsin in Madison as a teaching assistant in Zoology and earned a Master of Science in Zoology with a split minor in Botany and in Wildlife Management (Aldo Leopold's department). She also taught Biology in the innovative Integrated Liberal Studies program at UW. Her Ph.D. research included some of the first work on home range of mammals using radioactive tracers. After injecting p32 into a meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus) in the UW Arboretum, she was able to trace his movements by using a Geiger counter to examine 121 aluminum dropping boards laid out over an acre in a grid pattern. The resulting scientific paper published in ECOLOGY was reviewed briefly in the New York Times and elicited congratulations from Ecology editor Edward Deevey (known as a severe critic) that he could find no fault nor changes necessary in the paper! Lotus was inducted into Sigma Xi a scientific research honor society.

In Madison, Lotus was introduced by a mutual friend Jim Telford to Wilmer Jay Miller, a graduate student in Zoology and Genetics who came from Lawton, Oklahoma, another O state. After a 2-year courtship in Madison, they were married by a Unitarian Minister at Reed College Portland on 23 August, 1953. One of the comments to non-local friends was that they first lived in a two room walk-up apartment with a pair of Wilmer's doves (one a new mutant silky) hanging over the bathtub.

Lotus Simon Miller moved to Davis, California in 1955 with her husband, who headed the Serology Laboratory under the direction of Prof. Clyde Stormont. This laboratory's major business was blood typing cattle. In Davis, Lotus had two children: Douglas Lindley Miller, born 1 May, 1960, and Alan Frederick Miller, born 30 April, 1962.

In 1962, the family moved to Ames, Iowa, where Wilmer eventually became a Professor of Genetics at Iowa State University. Lotus became active in the Unitarian Fellowship, the League of Women Voters, Ames Rock and Mineral Club, chairman of the Nature Study Division of the Faculty Women's Club, a charter member and later president of the Ames affiliate of the National Audubon Society (now a chapter Big Bluestem Audubon Society) and co-founder and president of the Ames Conservation Council. Saving the Ames High School Prairie for education research and recreation was one of the successes in which she played a major role. She also worked extensively on the campaigns to prevent flooding of the Skunk River Valley and The Ledges State Park.

In 1978-79, Wilmer was invited to set up a cattle blood typing laboratory by one of the Sao Paulo state universities (UNESP) in Jaboticabal S.P., Brazil. Wilmer Lotus Douglas (18) and Alan (16) learned to speak enough Portuguese to cope and Lotus managed to run a household in a small city in a developing country. Back in Ames, expecting to return to Brazil, Lotus sat in on Portuguese classes from Joanna Courteau for a number of years at ISU as well as Spanish classes. In 1992-93, Wilmer was again asked to set up a cattle bl