Fresno educator Miner known for kindness

Former educator Robert Sidney Miner of Fresno died Jan. 5 at 96, but family members and friends say he will be remembered for his kindness and wit, and that he left a legacy that continues to educate teens.

Mr. Miner was hired as a teacher by the Fresno Unified School District in 1940. He was principal at Roosevelt High School from 1954-62 and retired as an assistant superintendent for the district in 1975.

After retirement, he went back to work as executive director of the Fresno Regional Foundation from 1975-91.

"He was a fine educator and very well known and liked by parents, other educators and students," said Nancy Richardson, a former Fresno Unified school board member.

"He was very easy to talk to, very reasonable, down to earth and a good problem solver," said Richardson, who met Mr. Miner when her children were in school.

Gary Renner of Fresno, a fellow member of the Rotary Club of Fresno, remembered Mr. Miner as "a warm, genuine man."

Mr. Miner helped found the Rotary Club of Fresno's Camp Royal program that trains high school student leaders. The program was so effective, it has spread to other Rotary Clubs in Kings, Tulare and Mariposa counties, Renner said.

Mr. Miner's idea to have the students run Camp Royal, guided by adults, was "brilliant," Renner said. "He really had a great idea. It has stayed just like he envisioned it, and it's impacted lots of young people."

Carol Hansen, principal of Duncan Polytechnical High School and a fellow Rotary member, said when Duncan students have attended Camp Royal, "they are forever changed in such a positive way. It's so heartwarming."

Hansen also recalls Mr. Miner's kind and cheerful personality. "He always had a smile for everyone," she said.

One of Mr. Miner's daughters, Mary Lyons, said her father had "a gift for storytelling and joke telling. I just found a list of his 12 favorite jokes."

Mr. Miner had a long list of stories and jokes memorized by number, she said. "We'd drive up to Shaver Lake and we'd say, 'Dad, tell us number 27,' and he would rattle it off. Or we'd say, 'Tell us number 4,' and he'd say, 'I don't like number 4. How about number 8?'

"In serious moments, there was a story that meant something. He had a gift that no one else in the family has. He was an extremely kind person. He invested in human beings, no matter what," she said.

Mr. Miner was a longtime member of First Presbyterian Church.

"He was very intelligent, very thoughtful and very compassionate," said Stan Cooper of Fresno, who attended a weekly Bible study with Mr. Miner. "He always had a twinkle in his eye. He was so positive."