Joanne S. Miller, 66, who was editor of MIT Tech Talk for 31 years and co-chair of the Association of MIT Retirees after her retirement, died Sunday evening in the MIT Infirmary after a long struggle with cancer.
Elizabeth Whittaker, former associate secretary of the MIT Corporation and a long-time friend, said, "Joanne was always a reliable source of information on every aspect of Institute life. She was modest and low-key, but she could never fully conceal her irrepressible humor and mischievous ways. Her friends will miss her greatly."
Born Sept. 6, 1935 in Chelsea, Mich., Miller grew up in Jamestown, N.Y. and attended the University of Michigan and Pasadena City College before coming to MIT in September 1957 as a clerk-typist in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Two months later, she became the secretary at Kresge Auditorium, where she sold tickets and kept records until 1964, when she joined the Office of Public Relations as a secretary.
In July 1965, she was promoted to become the fourth editor of Tech Talk, which was started in 1957 as a four-page monthly newsletter. In 1971, Tech Talk grew to an eight-page weekly tabloid newspaper.
In 1996, when Miller retired from the News Office after 39 years of service to MIT, it was calculated that she had edited about 98 percent of the approximately 17 million words that had appeared in the 40 years of Tech Talk issues--a feat roughly equivalent to editing 160 books.
Following retirement, she compiled a directory of the Association of MIT Retirees and edited the association's newsletter, MIT Senior Focus. She was the current co-chair of the association and lived in North Reading. She is survived by an uncle and several cousins.
Miller's ashes will be buried in the family plot in Ann Arbor, Mich. She is survived by an uncle and cousins, and many friends in the MIT community.
The family is making plans to hold a celebration of her life at MIT at a date to be announced.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on August 28, 2002.