Jeweler donates antique-type clocks to train station to honor his father

Ryan Miller, manager of Brent L. Miller Jewelers and Goldsmiths, displays one of the six clocks that will be installed at the Lancaster train station. The clocks, which bear the name of his father, the late Brent L. Miller, are being donated to honor his memory. (Blaine T. Shahan/Staff)

Ryan Miller remembers when he was a wide-eyed young boy following his father, Brent, through the Lancaster Amtrak station to catch a train to New York City.

"My dad always loved the train station," Miller said of his father, the founder of Brent L. Miller Jewelers and Goldsmiths, 1619 Manheim Pike. "He would go to New York to buy diamonds, and he would alternate taking me, my brother and my sister along with him.

"I have such great memories of him in that station."

Brent Miller died suddenly in 2006. And Ryan, who returned to Lancaster in 2011 to manage the family business, has found a way he and his siblings can keep their father's memory alive at the station.

The family business is donating six antique-replica clocks that will be installed at various locations at the station.

Clocks with 30-inch- diameter, two-sided faces will be installed on each of the station's two platforms, on the pedestrian concourse and on a post outside the station entrance.

Two other clocks with faces 3 1/2 feet in diameter, will be installed on the walls of the main waiting area.

The clocks' design, done by Brent L. Miller Jewelers, is based on the original timepiece in the station's clock tower. But the timepieces, constructed by Electric Time of Medfield, Mass., offer modern high-tech features, including LED backlighting and precision atomic timekeeping through a satellite connection.

Installation is set to be completed by the end of March.

In addition to memorializing the patriarch of the family, Miller said there is a practical aspect to the clocks as well.

When taking the train to Temple University, where he earned a business administration degree, and later to work in New York City, after being hired by Tiffany & Co. in 2008, "I realized that as I walked through the Lancaster station, once you got through the main hall there were no clocks ... so you didn't know how much time you had to make the train," Miller said.

Even though the 2001 graduate of Lancaster Country Day School became one of Tiffany's top-ranking salesmen nationally and was promoted to general sales manager, Miller said the plan was always for him to come back to Lancaster to manage the Manheim Township business.

"I wanted to learn how other companies did business, and I also was able to go through Tiffany's sales training program, which was fantastic."

When he heard of Amtrak's plans to renovate the station's interior, Miller said he thought, "How cool would it be for us to tie into the train station!"

Last spring, Miller approached Amtrak about donating the clocks, and after favorable reviews from officials from Amtrak and Pennsylvania's State Historic Preservation Office, Miller ordered the clocks.

Marilyn Jamison, Amtrak's senior director of major projects and partnerships, who is coordinating the station's capstone project, said in a statement, "As part of our standing commitment to the Lancaster community, Amtrak is thrilled to partner with a well-respected local entity like Brent L. Miller Jewelers to incorporate these beautiful timepieces into the capstone project."

Miller did not divulge the total cost of the project, but allowed, "It's a healthy part of our marketing budget."

But, he stressed, the clocks are not about money.

"Yes, there's a need for clocks, and this gives us an opportunity to tie ourselves into the history of Lancaster," Miller said.

But the most important part for him is all about family.

"My dad passed away in 2006," Miller said, "and this is a way for my brother, my sister and me to honor his name at the station."