1853-1907. Born in Alexandria in 1853, Willoughby Dayton Miller received his primary education in a nearby one-room schoolhouse. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1875 and then studied in Edinburgh, Scotland. Later, he traveled to Berlin, Germany where he met an expatriate American dentist, Dr. Frank Abbot, who encouraged him to study dentistry. Graduating from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in 1879, Miller returned to Berlin and joined Abbot's practice. Two years later, he gained a research appointment at the University of Berlin where he embarked on a career that brought the science of bacteriology into dentistry. In 1889, he published his research findings of the study of oral bacteria and the process of dental caries (tooth decay) entitled The Micro-Organisms of the Human Mouth. For his work, Miller is credited as the first to accurately describe the process of tooth decay.
Willoughby Dayton Miller never forgot his Ohio roots. He visited his homestead often and in 1892, purchased the family farm in Alexandria, entrusting it to his nephew, O.A. Brooks. Recognized throughout the world for his research, he was offered and accepted the deanship of the University of Michigan College Dentistry in 1907. His family moved from Berlin to the United States and Miller spent the summer in Alexandria preparing for his deanship and playing golf on his farm. In late July, he suffered a fatal appendicitis. His death was a shock to the dental profession. He is buried in Alexandria at the Maple Grove Cemetery. In 1915, a memorial statue was placed at The Ohio State University, located today in the courtyard of the College of Dentistry. A second memorial was erected at the University of Michigan in 1940.