A Message to the Community on the Passing of Melville D. Miller
Melville Miller, a founder of Legal Services of New Jersey and its longtime president, has passed away at age 76. Miller, who was known to friends as De, became the first President and Executive Director of Legal Services of New Jersey (LSNJ) in 1975. LSNJ is the state wide Legal Services support organization for the five regional Legal Services programs in New Jersey. De continued in his capacity as President of LSNJ until the summer of 2020, when he assumed the role of president emeritus. He remained active in Legal Services business even after he retired. The following is a statement from the Executive Director of NNJLS, John Fitzgerald, about Miller and his significance to the Legal Services community in New Jersey.
It is impossible to overstate the impact that De Miller had on the cause of equal justice in New Jersey and throughout the nation. For those of us who knew him, such a bold assertion is hardly a surprise. De was highly intelligent with a complete grasp of every issue big and small affecting not just the legal services community but also the plight of all those living in poverty in America. De was entirely dedicated to the cause of “equal justice for all” and committed in a way few of us can match, as much as we might try. He also understood the needs of the low-income community as well as anyone and dedicated his tremendous energy and enthusiasm, and indeed his entire life, to holding government and the legal system accountable for addressing those needs.
De’s life was his family and his work. Those of us who worked with him are all truly fortunate that he found his dedication to this cause early in life and made it his life’s work. All of us owe him an incalculable debt of gratitude and are proud to have been able to call him a friend. While we, along with his family, will miss him terribly, we are consoled by the fact that De helped build a system for addressing the tremendous legal needs of those living in poverty in New Jersey that is a model for the entire country. It is a system that, largely thanks to De’s lifetime of dedication and energy, will surely live on long after his passing.
John H. Fitzgerald, Esq.