Bill Miller did not know the phone call he received in January from the Chair of the Community Support Council was just a ruse to see if he was home. So he kept the caller on the phone while he expounded on possible Scarsdalians for the Council to honor for their unsung acts of volunteerism to the town. As the call ended, there was a knock on the door and Bill was very surprised to see members of the Bowl Committee there to announce he was being honored as this year's recipient of the Scarsdale Bowl.
Three hundred people feted Bill for this prestigious honor on Thursday April 17 at Lake Isle Country Club. In his invocation, Rabbi Jonathan Blake of Westchester Reform Temple described Bill as a man who "loves the human family". Richard Todor, President of the Scarsdale Foundation referred to Bill as a "Special person who has contributed so much to the fabric of the Village". Todor also noted that this is the 90th birthday of the Scarsdale Foundation, which is best known as the custodian of the Scarsdale Bowl and helps Scarsdalians in need. For the 2012-2013 academic year, the Foundation awarded $97,000 in scholarships to 26 Scarsdale recipients.
Bowl Chair Jane Veron, Master of Ceremonies, honored the sixteen past Bowl recipients in the audience and noted with sadness the passing of prior Bowl winners Kenneth Thompson and Betty Menke this past year. Veron then introduced speaker Richard Yaffa, Bill's close friend from elementary and high school. Richard recounted going to school with Bill from 3rd to 12th grade and told entertaining tales of their younger days. Victor Goldberg, a long-time Scarsdale resident and friend recalled that Bill was "perfect at everything he did", even as an Army sharpshooter in their military training together.
Mark Miller, Bill's older son, spoke on behalf of the family. After a slight technological delay, Mark gave a slide show entitled "Growing Up Miller—70's Version". Like the famous New Yorker map of the world highlighting mostly Manhattan, Mark's speech and slide show lovingly recounted Bill's life in terms of maps, highlighting Bill's life in Scarsdale, including Wayside Lane and Westchester Reform Temple, and in New York City as Bill conquered the business world.
Taking the mic to introduce Bill, Jane Veron reminded the crowd that Bill is someone who "focuses on what really matters—people." With typical modesty Bill remarked he was flattered, but uncomfortable listening to all the wonderful comments. However, he did admit it felt good to get a pat on the back.
Miller said that one constant in life is learning and the many doors it can open. Learning in Scarsdale was a bit tumultuous when Bill served on the school board in the early 1980s. There was a controversial redistricting, the construction of lunchrooms needed as mothers went to work and changes in the curriculum. However, what really stands out in retrospect was the birth of technology in education during this period. Bill also gave his appreciation to the Village's officials who work so well with volunteers for the public benefit. Finally, Mr. Miller read the lyrics taken from the Book of Ecclesiastes which were sung beautifully by Cantor Jill Abramson of Westchester Reform Temple earlier in the evening: "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance."
Bill ended the evening by stating he had had a very good time. Everyone in the room seemed to concur.
To learn more abut the work of the Scarsdale Foundation and to contribute, visit www.scarsdalefoundation.org.
2013 Scarsdale Bowl Committee
Jane Veron, Chair
Linda Hillman Chayes
Evelyn M. Stock
Richard Toder, Ex Officio
Deborah Pekarek, Secretary/Treasurer
Pictures and text by contributor Nan Berke