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James E. Miller

January 25, 1929 November 14, 2017
James E. Miller
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Obituary for James E. Miller

James E. Miller, known professionally as Jim Miller-Melberg, 88, died peacefully at home on November 14th from natural causes. Jim is survived by his brothers David Miller and John Miller (or Dave and Jack) and numerous nieces and nephews as well as a large community of close friends in the Birmingham area. Jim was preceded in death by his wife Sally Dow, his parents Martin Miller and Jennie (Lindfors) Miller, and his siblings Paul Miller, Genevieve (Miller) Minton and Evelyn Miller. At Jim’s request, there will be no funeral.

Jim founded Form Inc. in 1960, where he created recreational sculptures that are still in use today in thousands of parks and playgrounds. From his ubiquitous turtle, to the porpoise, moon house, basketball stand and even camels throughout Saudi Arabia – his sculpture has brought joy to countless children. An interview with Jim was published in Michigan Modern: Design that Shaped America ( In Jim’s own words: “I do not design down to children. I make the best sculptures I can to help design an environment for imaginative play. Good sculpture is as essential to a child’s development as good music and good literature.”

Jim’s artwork has been displayed in many showings, most recently a solo exhibit at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, MI. He studied art and sculpture in 1950’s France with many of the European greats. Jim combined this classic training with his design expertise and love of nature and beauty, to create wholly unique artwork. Highlights of his work can be found here:

In the Korean War, Jim was decorated with the Bronze Star and served in an intelligence unit just behind the front lines, where he and his mates coined the phrase ‘Porkchop Hill’. He put that chapter behind him as quickly as he could as the focus of his life was on artistic creation, his business and most importantly, his devotion to Sally, whose own last words were, “I have always loved you, Jim Miller”.

Please consider a donation to The Art Experience in Jim’s name. This organization provides art supplies to disadvantaged children in the Detroit area, which combines Jim’s passion for social justice and his love of art.


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