Celebration of Life | Brian S. Miller | 1970 – 2020


Words can hardly account for the deep hole in our collective hearts. The loss of someone like Brian Miller exceeds the capacity of any language, really, to describe the void.

We owe it to not only Brian but to his family and anyone who knew him, to try, anyway. After all, the man Brian was and the life he lived are worth celebrating.

Because, while Brian’s death leaves us unmoored, the memory of his spirit — his love for life, family, community and constant personal improvement — carries us forward with inspiration on how to live a meaningful, impactful life. Maybe, just maybe, we can reach the standard he set for all of us.

Words can do that justice.

Words can certainly showcase Brian’s impeccable character. His impact on those around him was unmistakable. An infectious positivity. An almost impossible level of integrity. Together, these qualities lit the spaces that people shared with him while also acting as his North Star.

Brian loved his community because he loved his family. To Brian, the two were part and parcel; not mutually exclusive even in the slightest. One’s family is the most intimate iteration of community, and therefore, well, community is family. That is to say, Brian exemplified a rarefied communitarianism, with seemingly endless ambition to do as much good as he could.

He saw in the people whose lives he impacted through his community involvement and professional work, his mother, father, daughter and two brothers who survive him today.

Brian exuded every aspect of our core values. From the beginning of his time with CEM nearly five years ago, we knew Brian embodied our beliefs, and we were thrilled that he wanted to join our team.

In 2015, he joined the CEM family as a senior engineer, focusing his talents on stream restoration and stabilization projects within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Embracing CEM’s culture of environmental stewardship, he provided great insight and perspective, ensuring valuable practical solutions to a great number of projects.

Brian served as the vanguard of many of our most important and celebrated environmental management projects designed to safeguard the community he loved. He believed in the power of his projects to produce a real impact on people’s lives.

Exemplifying this, he spearheaded a grant-funded water quality improvement project at a high school in Cecil County, Maryland, that restored two lengths of streams, ultimately earning the project an Award of Merit for the County Engineers Association of Maryland.

He played a leading role in our Moores Branch Stream Restoration Design in Green Spring, Maryland. The project restored 4,500 linear feet of degraded stream channel from more than 100 years of operations at the former Green Spring Quarry. This impressive project improved downstream fish habitat, eliminated stream blockages, restored flooding of adjacent properties and reduced sediment loads to the stream.

Brian made our work better. His contributions to our team and to the communities we serve were invaluable, elevated all of us at CEM to new heights and made us better scientists, engineers and, more importantly, better people.

Perhaps Brian’s greatest gift in the workplace was his ability to mentor young engineers. By sharing his lessons learned in a straightforward, patient, and often humorous way, he was able to teach complex concepts to junior staff and help them further develop their talents. Brian took great joy in seeing the growth of these young professionals, enjoying a level of parental pride as they began realizing their own successes.

In other words, Brian’s legacy will live on. Both the tangible and intangible work he loved so much and in which he took so much pride has left positive, indelible marks across Maryland and beyond.

Brian’s commitment to service extended to the defense of this great country. He proudly served in the U.S. Navy, with wartime duty during the first Gulf War. Serving on a ship in the Mediterranean, he recalled many challenging days, including those spent looking for enemy mines. Brian’s selfless commitment to causes larger than himself, reinforced during his military years, was on display constantly throughout his life.

Natural curiosity and problem-solving expertise served him well during his career in civil engineering. A graduate of Pennsylvania State University, he frequently assumed a senior technical role on large projects for various firms including HDR, URS and AECOM. These included the Hoover Dam Bypass in Nevada, drainage design projects for DelDOT in Middletown, Delaware, and the stabilization and restoration of miles of streams for WSSC in the Anacostia Watershed in Montgomery County, Maryland.

His ability to find great joy in simple activities speaks to the nature of his soul. Growing up in central Pennsylvania, Brian was naturally fond of all things outdoors. He enjoyed hunting with his family, spending time at his parent’s seasonal campsite, hiking challenging trails like Spike Buck near Little Pine Creek, or kayaking with friends along the placid waters of Codorus State Park. If there was a sunny day and some free time, you could certainly find him somewhere outside enjoying the beauty and wonders of nature.

Brian’s love of the outdoors often meshed with his love and concern for others, once embarking on a three-day bike ride to raise money and awareness for pancreatic cancer research.

Brian is survived by his mother, Linda, father, John, his brothers Duane and Mike and his daughter, Liz. Please consider joining us in donating to the American Cancer Society (https://www.cancer.org/involved/donate/memorial-giving.html) in lieu of flowers.

CEM, along with Brian’s family, will hold a Celebration of Life to honor his life and legacy as soon as it is safe to do so. Details of Brian’s Celebration of Life will be forthcoming and announced via CEM social media and our website, www.cemscience.com. In the meantime, to help us remember Brian, we encourage you to send photos and stories you wish to share. Please email them to info@cemscience.com.

Memories and Tributes

I was so sad to hear of Brian’s passing. We worked together at URS and again on SHA TMDL projects for several years after we both moved on to other firms. His kind spirit and warm smile always welcomed me any time I saw him at a meeting or on a site visit. His humor always made me laugh. May he rest in peace.

- Karen B.

Seeing Brian always brightened my day. He truly was one of a kind. His sense of humor was second to none and he was a kind soul. I took these pictures of Brian at a field meeting for the Beaver Run TMDL project in November 2017. We hadn’t seen each other since I left AECOM.


- Jen

Brian never wanted to acknowledge it, but his reach and influence on this corner of our industry was immense. Just attending a conference or meeting with him you could see how past mentees still looked to him for advice or wanted to share what they were able to do because of his influence. He was a positive mentor and friend who would work with anyone to hone their skill and improve their confidence; having faith in everyone he worked with to achieve their goals. His main objective was just help get you to where you wanted to be, without any recognition or want for gratitude. Even though the trail of thankfulness from those he mentored is not as long as it could have been, it is the strongest, most dependable and truly appreciative trail of people you will ever see. We all loved him for how he showed us how to enjoy your work and still have professionalism. He was more than a mentor, he was friend who valued his peers like they were members of a family.

- Scott M.

It was a pleasure meeting and working with Brian. His dedication, enthusiasm, and insight was truly inspiring. It was a great honor working with and learning from him.

- Jordan S.

I miss his wit and humor around the office.  Such a fun person to be around, and huge heart (a softy but wouldn’t likely admit that!).  This world has been truly blessed with him in it.

- Joanna H.

Brian has been a major influence in my life. That’s part of what made him so special, his ability to encourage and inspire people to be better and achieve more. He did it everywhere he went, and he was just as proud to celebrate someone else’s achievements as much as his own. Even in the midst of his toughest struggles, he was always considerate of everyone else around him. To be able to work with one of your best friends is a blessing, and I will continue to celebrate that each and every day.

- Andy W.

Brian was a great friend and a wonderful influence on my life. As so many of us know, his character and demeanor were inspiring in a subtle, yet infectious way. You just enjoyed being around him. When we worked together, Brian’s confidence in me helped carry me forward through many tough challenges. As a co-worker, he regularly took time to listen, to absorb, and to guide. These traits were always so helpful in our engineering practice. Patience and clarity are virtues that any engineer would strive for, and Brian had both. Not to mention his humor! While subdued upon first appearance, his comic air often brought levity to our friendship. I will miss him a great deal, but continue to think of him fondly with a smile on my face.

- Greg A.