By Bridgette M. Redman
Contributing editor of the weekly Pasadena
When Dr Robert B. Miller and his then-girlfriend Barbara were building floats for the Tournament of Roses parade in 1970, he didn’t know it was the start of a lifelong commitment to all. both.
Now, 51 years later, the Millers are the tournament’s first couple, and he is completing his second year as president and chairman of the board of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association.
Miller has spent most of his life volunteering for the Pasadena Tournament of Roses and is dedicated to it.
“It’s an incredibly unique business,” Miller said. “This is the 133rd Parade, the 108th Rose Bowl and the 103rd Field. It’s rooted in a great tradition and it’s a great community commitment. We’ve been involved in it for so long because that’s how we give back to our community, our country and our world. “
Miller was slated to be the chairman and chairman of the board of directors for the 2021 Pasadena Tournament of Roses. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the parade and match to be canceled, the board changed its rules. to allow everyone to continue their volunteer role for another year.
Several people told Miller it was a shame the pandemic happened under his watch. Miller is clear on his priorities and those of the tournament while praising what he can offer a community of hopeful people.
“You have to keep that in perspective,” Miller said.
“When you look at the death and dying attributed to COVID-19, or the ongoing debilitating disease linked to COVID-19 and cover the financial ruin or the great pain that many have experienced, you have to remember that this is of a game and a parade. Coming out of there, we celebrate new beginnings. Every January 1, the celebration of the American New Year is a new beginning.
Miller retired two years ago so he could devote himself to the Tournament of Roses.
He became a volunteer member of the Pasadena Roses Tournament Association in 1984. He served as tournament president in 2002 and tournament director in 2017. At various times he served on committees such as tank building, float entrances, after-parade and college entertainment.
His passion lies in education, having spent 40 years in the community college arena, serving as educator, administrator and consultant. He retired as Vice Chancellor of Finance and Resource Development for the Los Angeles Community College District, the nation’s largest community college district, serving 245,000 students per year at nine colleges.
It’s a skill set and dedication that he brings to the Tournament of Roses, with this year’s theme “Dream. To believe. Achieve. “Being linked to education.
“Education is the great equalizer,” Miller said. “There is no greater determinant of social and economic mobility than a quality education. (I worked to) provide opportunities for those who are known as the poor, to help bridge the economic and social divide. I have spent the past 25 years working to achieve these goals and making great strides.
He said he and Barbara had known from the start that their theme would be associated with education. Miller said they used their time as a first couple to profess the effect of a quality education and were happy to see it expressed through floats and marching bands.
It featured a stunning parade float from the Saluting America’s group directors. The animated tank spans over 60 feet and leads a 300-member group made up of retired and current conductors from all 50 states and Mexico. It’s a tribute to music education and is titled “We Teach Music.” We teach life.
“Being in a high school band is about more than learning to play an instrument or to walk,” Miller said. “It’s about developing skills of critical thinking, of self-discipline, of managing time, of depending on others, of being of service to others – these are all life skills. This particular float is a celebration of music teachers and conductors in particular. “
Miller will ride in a fire engine with four generations of his family – Barbara, their two children and spouses, four grandchildren and her 91-year-old mother.
“We will be leading the educational group,” Miller said. “It’s a proud moment for me and our family.
In Miller’s last two years as head of the association, he said the pandemic has broadened their focus and the work they do.
“Our association has increased its level of community engagement,” Miller said. “We focused on education. We focused on food insecurity, technological insecurity and increasing our profile in the community to be a major contributor. Going forward, I see that one of the outcomes of the pandemic is adding a third step to our mission statement, which would be to continue to embrace community engagement and support. “
He said they called it their Better Together initiative.
He enjoys helping people experience the parade for the first time and giving them new experiences. This is especially true for young people who participate in marching bands and who may be leaving their community, city or state for the first time.
It’s interesting, he says, to give them the chance to open their eyes to the bigger world and to grow.
Over the past 38 years, he said he has accumulated 100 to 1,000 hours per year as a volunteer, depending on the mission. He does this because he is passionate about service and supports the Tournament of Roses.
“I wanted to do it because I liked it,” Miller said. “I wanted to be of service. I wanted to give back. I wanted to be president to make people happy and create opportunities for those who wouldn’t normally experience our parade.
This year in particular, he wants the Tournoi des Roses 2022 to give new hope.
“On January 1, you can still count on the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl Game,” Miller said. “When this warm, heartwarming, engaging, entertaining and poignant parade returns, it will signal the country and the world that all will be well. January 1 celebrates a new beginning every year, and we hope we have come through the worst turning point in this pandemic thanks to science and scientists and all the people who took care of us. We are well. Strength and perseverance are the raison d’être of America and our community. “