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Obituary: Jo Zach Miller IV

Jo Zach Miller IV, 93, died at his home in Sarasota, FL on Feb. 13, 2010 following a lengthy illness.

Jo Zach was born in Kansas City, MO in 1916, the son of Jo Zach Miller III and Lena Ludlow Miller. After high school, he entered the U.S. Naval Academy, having received the appointment from then Senator Harry S. Truman, a close friend of his father’s dating back to WWI. Nearing completion of his Academy tour, issues with his vision required a brief transfer to civilian life where he finished his engineering degree at Yale. After Yale he returned to the Navy and served in WWII, the Korean conflict and was part of Operation Castle Bravo at the 1954 Bikini Atoll H bomb test. He retired with the rank of commander.

After his Navy service, he returned to the New York City area and worked for Standard Oil of New Jersey (Exxon) and later Grumman Aircraft. The Grumman experience included work on the early space vehicles for NASA. While in New York, he met and married Emma McGuire and after their wedding in 1960, the two resided in Oyster Bay until Emma’s death.

In the early 1980s, after Emma’s death, Jo Zach moved to Sarasota. There he met Virginia Bonneyman Mercer and they were married in 1991. Virginia predeceased him. In Sarasota, Jo Zach devoted much of his time to charitable organizations and particularly St. Martha Catholic Church and its related schools and affiliates. Many Sarasota and Kansas City area organizations were his beneficiaries including Rockhurst High School and University, Catholic Charities, Sarasota Memorial Hospital Foundation, and the Nelson- Atkins Museum.

Sailing experiences at Yale, coupled with his Navy experience, made Jo Zach a devoted and lifelong sailor. He sailed his 32 foot sloop, SanPhael, along the eastern seaboard from Long Island to down–east Maine. He was a member and past commodore of The Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club in Oyster Bay. He was a member of and served on the race committee of the New York Yacht Club and was a member of the Sarasota Yacht Club. His sailing adventures included several trans-Atlantic crossings with longtime sailing friends. He was with the New York Yacht Club at the 1979 disastrous Fastnet race off the English coast.

He was also a member of The Kansas City Country Club, The Field Club of Sarasota and was a trustee of The Theodore Roosevelt Association.

Jo Zach, besides being a devoted and master seaman, was never short on opinions or intriguing sea stories. He had a passion for history and a genuine enjoyment of people. He was very devoted to his Catholic faith and attended daily mass until his health curtailed this. His investment counsel served his family’s charitable organizations well and his narratives made for many memorable gatherings.

He is survived by his sister Helena Miller Norquist; his brother James Ludlow Miller and his wife Patricia; his niece Anne Norquist Patterson and her husband Craig; his niece Ellen Norquist Sudduth; and his nephew Elliot Emanuel Norquist and his wife Caroline; and his nephew Jo Zach James Miller; nieces Honour Miller Myers and Marika Miller Ivanko and her husband Dallas; and 10 great-nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his nephew Jon Ludlow Norquist.

Memorial services were held in Kansas City at the chapel at Bishop Spencer Place. The time and date for the Sarasota service has yet to be determined.

The family wishes to express its gratitude to those friends who provided attention and loving care to Jo Zach in his final days, including Jo-Ann Hillman, Shirley Faist and Tidewell Hospice & Palliative Care of Southwest Florida.

The family suggests that memorial contributions be made to either Rockhurst University, 1100 Rockhurst Rd., Kansas City, MO 64110 or St. Martha Catholic Church, 200 N Orange Ave., Sarasota, FL 34236.