The one-armed man who grew up poor in Rutland, made millions, and generously gave much of it away, has passed on. Bobby Miller died Tuesday, Feb. 4 at age 84.
"Miller invented himself. With just a high school education, and a winning combination of charm and audacity, he worked his way up through the building industry in Vermont. Despite losing an arm at birth, he became an auto mechanic, then convinced a Burlington engineering firm to hire him as a draftsman. After learning on the job, he started New England Air Systems in 1972. Twelve years later, he sold the business to his employees. "It gets companies spread out to people who would never own them," he told me when I profiled the Millers 20 years ago in Seven Days. He started REM Development in 1984. Although it is based in Chittenden County, the company also built, bought and rehabbed properties in downtown Newport and Rutland.
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