John Bruce Miles
  • 78 years old
  • Date of birth: Feb 2, 1933
  • Date of passing: Jan 19, 2012
Let the memory of John be with us forever

John Bruce Miles, 78 of Columbia passed away Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012, at Boone Hospital Center.

Services will be at 2 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23, at Woodcrest Chapel, 2201 W. Nifong Blvd.  Burial will follow in Columbia Cemetery. Visitation will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22, at Woodcrest Chapel.

John was born Feb. 2, 1933, in St. Louis, to Aaron Jefferson and AnnaBelle John Miles, and they preceded him in death. On Feb. 8, 1955, he married Beverly Bartlett in Rolla, and she survives. He was a member of Woodcrest Chapel. He also was a member of The Rotary Club of Columbia, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, American Society of Engineering Educators, Professional Engineers and Missouri Space Consortium.

Dr. Miles had a distinguished academic career.  He was valedictorian of Rolla High School in 1951 and valedictorian of Missouri School of Mines, receiving a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering in 1955. He received his master’s degree, also from MSM, in 1957. His Ph.D. in mechanical engineering was earned from the University of Illinois — Champaign in 1963, under the advisement of Dr. Helmut Korst.

He then joined the faculty of the Mechanical Aerospace Engineering Department at the University of Missouri —Columbia in 1963. He was a faculty member there until his retirement in 1988. John Bruce received many professional honors and awards.  Some of these include the ASME 75th Anniversary Student Award for the most outstanding graduate at the University of Missouri — Rolla (1955); NSF Science Faculty Fellowship (1960-63); Ford Foundation Award (1965); Outstanding Educators of America (1975); Faculty Alumni Award, University of Missouri — Columbia (1978); Society of Automotive Engineers Teetor Award (1985); professor emeritus of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, UMC (1998); UMR-MSM Golden Alumni Award (2005).

During his tenure at the University of Missouri, John Bruce pursued research activities that involved numerous sabbaticals.  The first of these was with General Electric in Schenectady, N.Y. researching steam turbine design (1965). The majority of his research was performed in conjunction with the NASA-Ames space program at Moffett Field, Calif. This research began around 1970 and continued for the rest of his life.  Even in retirement, he stayed active with the Missouri Space Consortium (a joint project with the University of Missouri, Missouri University of Science and Technology and Washington University). Most of his Ph.D. advisees joined the research efforts at NASA-Ames, one of whom, Bruce Webbon, was eventually named director of life support systems at NASA-Ames.

Another notable advisee was Dale Klein, who, after rising to provost for research for the University of Texas System, was appointed by President Bush to the post of undersecretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biologic weapons. John Bruce punctuated his space research with a smattering of other interests that included sabbatical leaves for the following — Solar Energy Research Institute, Golden Colo. (1980-81); NSF Summer Institute at the University of Louisville (1973); and USAF-ASEE faculty at Wright Patterson AFB (1977). John also was an active Rotarian and was awarded the Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International.

John Bruce was a devoted husband, father and grandfather.  His soul mate and love of his life was Beverly, his wife of 54 years.  They shared a deep and abiding love that was a model for all who knew them. John Bruce was an enthusiastic grandfather and would do whatever he could to support and enrich the lives of his grandchildren. This included trips to Central America and two European trips. He even filled in as the calculus teacher at Columbia Independent School when the regular teacher departed unexpectedly. John Bruce was an avid photographer and some of his favorite subjects were his grandchildren. During the time of his son’s medical schooling and residency, John Bruce was often the surrogate father for Ashley, Meredith and John Austin at school or sporting events.

Sporting activities were a major part of John Bruce’s life. He was on the varsity tennis and basketball teams at Missouri School of Mines. He was an avid tennis player for much of his adult life. The Mizzou tennis team was disbanded in the ’90s because of budget cuts, and when the decision was made to restart as a club team, Dr. Miles was the coach for the first few seasons. Later in life, he became an avid cyclist and was an active member of the cycling club at Woodcrest Chapel. The club generally took weekend trips around Mid-Missouri, but on occasion would take more extensive trips, one of which was to Lake Bodensee in the Alps. Dr. Miles was a regular in the stands at his grandchildren’s sporting or school events.

Other survivors include a son, John D. Miles (Heidi) of Columbia; a daughter, Andrea Miles of St. Louis; a sister, Mary Ann Wundrack of St. Louis; seven grandchildren; and a cousin, Kay Boyce of St. Louis.

He also was preceded in death by a sister, Ruth Pauline Miles.

Pallbearers include: John Austin Miles, Miles Malachi Moran, William Wundrack, Ray Rucker, Ken Ragsdell, Ken Caspohl, Massoud Heidari and Dale Lammers.

Memorial contributions are suggested to the Pastoral Education Endowment Fund at Woodcrest Chapel, in care of Bach-Yager Funeral Chapel, 1610 N. Garth Ave., Columbia, Mo. 65202.

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