Nov 5, 2019Creighton Miller, founder of Texas A&M’s potato breeding program, dies at 79
Creighton Miller, founder of Texas A&M University’s potato-breeding program, died Nov. 3 after a 12-year battle with cancer. He was 79.
Miller, a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from his hometown Louisiana State University. He then received a Ph.D. in plant breeding from Michigan State University.
In 1972, he was hired by the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center to establish a potato variety development program. He went on to develop or co-develop 19 varieties. Among them, the Russet Norkotah 278 and 296 — the two most-prominent strains of certified seed Norkotahs grown in the U.S. in 2019. His varieties have netted more than $6 million in royalties.
Miller served as director of the Potato Association of America (PAA) 1995-96, vice president 1996-97 and ultimately president 1998-99. During his tenure, the PAA Endowment Fund was created and he led efforts to strengthen association ties with the National Potato Council, National Potato Promotion Board (aka Potatoes USA) and European Association for Potato Research. He was named a PAA Honorary Member for Life in 2003.
In addition, he was a member of American Association for the Advancement of Science, Crop Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy and The American Genetics Association.
Outside of his breeding and research work, Miller also taught six undergraduate and graduate courses at Texas A&M, which have included more than 5,000 students. He was the 1992 recipient of the prestigious L.M. Ware Distinguished Teaching Award from the Southern Region, American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS). In 2005, he received the Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching from the Association of Former Students of Texas A&M University.
Miller served in the U.S. Coast Guard during the Vietnam War and was an avid swimmer throughout his life. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Jeannie, their two children and six grandchildren.
A celebration of life is scheduled for Nov. 9 at First Presbyterian Church in Bryan, Texas. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Creighton Miller Scholarship in Plant Breeding and Genetics, Texas A&M Foundation, First Presbyterian Church of Bryan Foundation, the Brazos Valley Symphony Society or a charity of choice.