A Brief Biography of Donald Miller 

 

I was born in 1940 in Hawaii, the son of a Navy surgeon. Educated K-12 in public schools, I attended Dartmouth College and Dartmouth Medical School and received my M.D. degree from Harvard Medical School in 1965. After completing a 5-year general surgery residency I joined the Navy, as had my father and my maternal grandfather, also a surgeon. I spent two years (1970-1972) on active duty at the Naval Hospital Camp Lejuene on the Marine Corps base there, in North Carolina. Then, following a 2-year fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, which included a six-month rotation at Harlem Hospital, I moved to Seattle.

I started practice at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle in 1974 and a year later joined the faculty at the University of Washington School of Medicine, as an Assistant Professor (1975-1978) and then Associate Professor and Chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery (1978-1980).  I then went back to Swedish and practiced adult cardiac surgery there for 23 years, serving as Medical Director of the Swedish Heart Institute from 1994 to 1997.  I returned to the full-time faculty at the UW School of Medicine in 2003, as a Professor of Surgery, and directed the cardiothoracic surgery program at the Seattle VA Medical Center and also performed and taught cardiac surgery at the University of Washington Medical Center. Having practiced heart surgery for 40 years, the medical school made me an Emeritus Professor of Surgery; and I retired in January 2014.

In college, I studied philosophy of religion and played alto and baritone saxophone in a jazz quintet, essaying the genre "hard bop." Named "The Modern Men," we played for parties at various colleges in the region and also were selected to play in two intercollegiate jazz festivals, at Notre Dame and Georgetown University. Inspired by Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, I spent the summer before medical school (in 1961) hitch-hiking around Europe with my (alto) saxophone, playing with jazz groups in clubs on the Left Bank of Paris and in Schwabing, Munich.  In medical school, I took up the oboe and had the pleasure of playing that instrument in a performance of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 with a chamber music group.  

During my general surgery residency years (1965-1970) spent at the Roosevelt Hospital in NY, which is two blocks south of Lincoln Center, I had the opportunity to sign up as the house doctor, as often as two or three times a week, for performances at the New York State Theater (New York City Opera and Ballet), Avery Fisher Hall (New York Philharmonic), and sometimes at the Metropolitan Opera.  Living in Seattle I have served on the Board of Directors, Seattle Symphony Orchestra (1983-1987) and on the Board of Trustees, Seattle Opera (1984-2007).

Along with my love of music, beginning at an early age I also succumbed to the gentle madness of loving books. I have written two books on heart surgery, The Practice of Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery (1978) and Atlas of Cardiac Surgery (1983). A third one, Heart in Hand (1999), delves into the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer, the films of Woody Allen, science, religion, music, and my life as a heart surgeon. I collect post-World War II American fiction and poetry, nautical fiction (mainly Patrick O’Brian), mystery novels (Ian Fleming and Ross Thomas), and books on the great conductors. I also collect 78 and 33 rpm (analogue) classical and opera recordings, especially those conducted by the great ones like Wilhelm Furtwängler and Willem Mengleberg; and jazz recordings, including all the ones Thelonious Monk and Bill Evans made.

Along with these pursuits I write articles on a variety of subjects for LewRockwell.com. I also like to hike and ski in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. Our four children grown, I now live with my lovely wife Linda and our dog George in Leavenworth, Washington.