Martin H. Miller, 88; Official in Treasury

By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Martin H. Miller, 88, a Treasury Department official who revitalized the savings bond program and in retirement crusaded successfully to change how U.S. government maps showed the status of the West Bank of the Jordan River, died July 9 at the Casey House hospice in Rockville. He had esophageal cancer.

Mr. Miller joined Treasury in 1948 and spent the next 27 years working in the savings bonds division. The bonds sold prolifically during World War II, and Mr. Miller tried to find ways in the postwar environment to reinvigorate sales.

He worked with presidents of such major corporations as ITT, U.S. Steel, RCA, Chrysler and Sears to encourage their millions of employees to invest in the bonds. He helped raise the annual sale of small-denomination Series E bonds by $2 billion.

In retirement, his interest was piqued by government maps, and he spent nearly a decade persuading U.S. authorities to correct an imprecise map of the West Bank.

A CIA map of Israel dating from 1978 had "ignored the outcome of the [1967] Six Day War altogether other than to carry a notation, 'Israeli-occupied -- status to be determined,' " he once wrote.

The map appeared to assign the land to Jordan when it was considered disputed territory.

Wielding abundant documentation, he arranged audiences with Secretaries of State Alexander Haig and George P. Shultz as well as CIA Director Robert M. Gates. Changes to the maps came gradually, and he was given much of the credit.

He told a reporter that he presented his case in a "factual rather than ideological" manner. "If I were trying to peddle my views, I wouldn't have gotten very far," he said.

He also worked with the editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica to change their maps and articles.

Mr. Miller -- his middle initial stood for nothing -- was born in Cleveland and raised in nearby Garfield Heights. Orphaned by age 16, he was raised by an older sister and earned money through odd jobs. An article in the Cleveland Press in 1929, headlined "Hustler," praised his aggressive work selling the baseball edition of that newspaper and culling new customers.

He was a graduate of what is now Case Western Reserve University, where he also received a master's degree in sociology. He settled in the Washington area in wartime agency positions.

Photography was an abiding interest, and he taught a course in that art at the Agriculture Department graduate school from 1956 to 1973. One photo, titled "The Star Spangled Banner," was reproduced as a U.S. savings bond poster and printed as a public service by more than 1,400 newspapers.

In the late 1960s, the Photographic Society of America ranked him among the 50 most-exhibited black-and-white amateur photographers in the world.

Mr. Miller, a Silver Spring resident, played tennis much of his life and participated in the Senior Olympics in his seventies and eighties.

His wife of 56 years, Helen Zarkower Miller, died in 1995.

Survivors include two daughters, Marjorie Gustafson and Nancy Goor, both of Bethesda; a brother; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company