Thursday, October 17, 2013

Milwaukee Has Lost The Genuine Public Citizen Michael Miller

Word came from Milwaukee City Hall this morning that former Mayoral aide Michael Miller has passed away.

It's so hard to grasp: I think Mike was still in his 50's and he'd stayed fit and healthy so purposefully to enjoy a second career (after his 2012 City Hall retirement ) as a practitioner of Chinese therapies for which he had worked long hours and traveled at least twice to China to complete a certification.

Mike's early death is a shock and loss for those of us who knew him  - - the high-profile,  robust, confident, talented community organizer, youth mentor, Mayor's Office outreach specialist, and lobbyist who began his City Hall career, I believe, as a Community Development Block Grant monitor.

I helped get Mike transferred to the Mayor's Office in the late 1990's when I was John Norquist's Chief of Staff, and while I envied Mike's range of contacts and appreciated his professional work I enjoyed his breadth and depth of interests even more.

Raised in Chicago, Mike had an insatiable curiosity about people and the world. He had a BA and MA from UW-M. He told me he loved the energy and vitality on the campus, loved his little student apartment near the old Prospect Mall where he'd study late into the night.

As an adult, too, he read everything - - religion, politics, philosophy, history - - and was a font about health, diet and nutrition, especially as it affected children and African-American men.

I'd wander into his office over the lunch hour, where, more than likely, I'd find him reading, taking notes and maybe eating a piece of fruit.

I remember one day listening to him relate the book on Confucianism in his hand to the Bible. Then to Buddhism. Lunch was a bunch of grapes.

He was open-minded, religious, spiritual, and pragmatic, and fascinated by business and commerce, too.

I'm telling you: this was a deep, unusual, elegant man, a positive guy completely free of guile, hidden agendas, bad thoughts.

Mike Miller did a lot of good for the community, and planned to do a lot more. He was a great ambassador for the city and a great friend, too.

Everyone whom I have heard from today is saying the same thing: "This is really sad."

And we all know "sad" barely scratches the surface.


Molly Christofferson said...

So sad....he will sure be missed.

Roseann St. Aubin said...

Unbelievable. And yes, sad. Thank you for writing about him as you did. A true tribute from the heart.

James Rowen said...

Thank you, office alums.

John Kovari said...

I seriously don't think I ever saw Mike without a smile. Always so friendly and cheerful. Very sad to hear this news.

xoff said...

A nice and well-deserved tribute. I last saw him, unfortunately, at the funeral of Ray Harmon, another outstanding public citizen who died far too young.

Dan Thomas said...

I had the pleasure of working with Mike when he worked in the Block Grant office. I would agree with all of the comments made. The last time I saw him he told me how he was enjoying his retirement. We made plans to have lunch... I am so sorry that we never had a chance to do that.

He will be missed.

James Rowen said...

@Dan - - Thank you. Like you, we had a lunch date waiting. Those were great times.

Unknown said...

Miller was a sincere and kind man who was honest and believed in making a change in society for the better. He was always mentoring youth and working on projects to make the world a better place.

His dedication and work to the community is an asset which will be missed.