Robert W. Miller Jr. ’85 died on May 18, 2019, in Roatan, Honduras.
(The following was published in The Cape Cod Times on May 21, 2019)
HYANNIS — A Cape businessman was one of the five people who died in Honduras on Saturday when the private plane they were on crashed into the ocean shortly after taking off from the island of Roatan.
Robert W. Miller, 55, was one of four Americans in the Piper Cherokee Six that crashed off the Honduran coast, according to friends, family and government officials. Miller, a principal at the Hyannis insurance agency Dowling & O’Neil, was on a fly-fishing trip with friends, his business partner, Mark McCartin, said.
McCartin had known Miller for about 35 years, and the two were friends first and business partners second, he said.
The company was closed Monday, but employees came in and shared stories to remember Miller, whom McCartin described as a passionate family man with a larger-than-life presence.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the place, he said.
“He left an indelible mark on our agency,” McCartin said.
A native of Maine, Miller met his wife, Mary, at Pufferbellies nightclub in Hyannis on Memorial Day weekend in 1985, she said. The night was advertised as a way to find out where everyone was working for the summer.
The couple had lived in Centerville for years and were transitioning back to Maine, his wife said. Miller was dividing his time between Maine and Plymouth.
He was the kind of person who would always have your back, McCartin said.
McCartin was once on a ski trip in Maine with his wife and children when he crashed, breaking six ribs. McCartin’s wife did not know where to turn, so she called Miller. He pointed her in the right direction, and by the time McCartin came out of his daze in the hospital, Miller had driven up from the Cape to be there for his friend.
Miller went to Bowdoin College and had worked in the insurance industry since 1986. He and McCartin bought the Hyannis agency in 2005.
He was passionate about fishing and was just getting into fly fishing, said JR Magee, president of the Osterville Anglers Club.
Honduras is one of the best fly-fishing spots in the world, and this was a bucket list trip, he said.
Miller had been a member of the club since 2008 and would always volunteer to help out, Magee said.
“He was a pretty generous and fun guy,” he said.
Mary Miller is a former president of the club, and she and her husband were active in its operations.
“Giving back to the community meant a lot to him,” Magee said.
Miller cultivated a familylike atmosphere at Dowling & O’Neil, and the news of his death was shocking, general manager Dave Rose said. Rose was also first mate on Miller’s fishing boat Summer Place.
Some of Miller’s proudest moments on the boat were during the Joe Cronin Memorial Fishing Tournament, which benefits the Jimmy Fund. He brought along a young girl who had survived cancer and her family, and they placed in the tournament in 2016 and 2017, Rose said.
“He really enjoyed letting other people experience fishing,” he said.
In 2010, Miller introduced his wife to fishing, and she still remembers the thrill of hitting her first striped bass.
“I can’t tell you how exciting it was,” she said.
Two weeks ago, he went fly fishing with a member of the anglers club in preparation for the trip to Honduras. Mary Miller worried that her husband might not be able to enjoy the fruits of his labor, but he knew how to have fun, and she said there was some solace in him dying doing what he loved.
“At least he wasn’t on some boring business trip,” she said.
The other three Americans who died in the crash were Frederick Anthony Tepel, Anthony Frederick Dubler and Bradley William Post, according to a Honduran government agency. The pilot, who also died, was Capt. Patrick Forseth.