Gene Edward Miller

Obituary
  • "Remebering my dad 10 years later. I miss him every day. ..."
    - Robin Travis
  • "The first time I got "Millerized," in other words, when..."
    - Michael Crook
  • "I grew up in South Florida. Gene's amazing work on the..."
    - Sal Recchi
  • "A legend long before he passed, who leaves a legacy to..."
    - Frank Gibney jr.
  • "We pray that God forever bless the family of Mr. Gene..."
    - Essia Best-Underwood

MILLER, GENE EDWARD, 76, newspaperman, died 9:12 a.m., June 17, 2005, at home. Cause: cancer, the family said. Noted Gene: "Excellent health...... except for a fatal disease.'' Self-portrait: Born in Evansville, Indiana, Sept. 16, 1928, grandson of a Utah railroader and a grandma who could outshoot the sheriff. Pre-kindergarten firebug. Hid under bed as firemen from Engine 15 extinguished grass fire. As a $12 a week copyboy, misfiled clips in the morgue of The Evansville Press. Look for "assassination'' under "assignation.'' Oboist, "gold'' medal. Indiana University, '50, AB journalism, where purchased for 4 cents The Chicago Tribune's "Dewey Defeats Truman.'' Never again, huh? Overpaid at $50 a week at first full time newspaper job, The Journal-Gazette, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1950. Secret agent in Army Counter Intelligence Corps, 1951-53. On surveillance, forgot where parked car. Fired from The Wall Street Journal in 1954. Lacked respect for price of crude cottonseed oil. Reporter for The News Leader, Richmond, Virginia, 1954-57. Departed after motorist failed to pay 10 cent bridge toll and guard shot at him. The managing editor deemed it not much of a story because the shot missed...... and the publisher and his neighbors owned the bridge. Reporter and editor at The Miami Herald from 1957 to 2001, then contracted as a newsroom "vendor.'' At the factory on the bay, silkpursed the ears of sows, mountained molehills, thumbed dikes, and unscrewed things when things got screwed up. Over the years: Covered assorted calamities from the JFK assassination to Elián...... with the presidential follies in between, Nixonian Watergate to Clintonian Starr Report. Reported: Chillingsworth murder trial, Yarmouth Castle fire, Birmingham and MLK, Murph-the-Surf, Bluebelle, Beatles, Clay-Liston, Candy Mossler, Coppolino, Mackle kidnapping, Apollo, Chappaquiddick, Kent State, Perfect Season, Three Mile Island, Patty Hearst, My Lai and Lt. Calley, Attica, Elvis, Senator Gurney scam, Dr. X, Ted Bundy, Gary Gilmore, Guyana suicides, McDuffie, Sunshine Skyway bridge, George Wallace, Larry Flynt, Dangerous Doctors, hurricanes from Donna to Andrew, too many riots and too many airline crashes, and the Fountain Valley massacre, some of which seemed important at the time. Made FBI's "no contact'' list. Pulitzer Prizes for malfunctions of justice, common enough in Florida: Joe Shea and Mary Katherin Hampton in 1967, and Freddie Pitts and Wilbert Lee in 1976. From the citation: "...for persistent and courageous reporting over eight and one-half years that led to the exoneration and release of two men who had twice been tried for murder and wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death in Florida.'' After the second Pulitzer, son Tom, a smart aleck, asked, "Know why you have two, Dad? Because everyone else gets a good job after the first.'' Editor for two more, Edna Buchanan in 1986, and Sydney Freedberg in 1991. Peripheral contributor: 1993 and 1999. Collected newsroom interns, 1981-2004. Accolades: Heywood Broun, National Headliners, George Polk, Edgar Allan Poe, Robert F. Kennedy, SDX, Florida Bar, American Bar, Paul Hansell, Byron Harless, ACLU, and honorary LL.D., Indiana University. Semi-retired in 2001 with a tax-deferred buyout from Knight Ridder, ($287,365.28). Married 41 years to Electra Sonia Yphantis (1923-1993), Bostonian, Greek, Harvard and Johns Hopkins, and begat four children: Janet Irene Nostro, Theresa Jean Miller, Thomas Raphael, Roberta Lynn Travis. Eight grandchildren: Alexander, Emily (twins), and Matthew Nostro, Nicholas and Sonia Smith, Zachary and Lauren Miller, Daniel Travis; and brothers, Glen (deceased), Warren and Howard (twins). In 1998, married Caroline Heck, federal prosecutor, University of Chicago and Harvard Law, mother of Daniel. Most disappointing journalistic failure: Continued imprisonment for rape of "Crazy Joe'' Spaziano, an innocent man. Along the way: Nieman Fellowship, and a couple of out-of-print books, "Invitation to a Lynching'' and "83 Hours Till Dawn,'' of which the critic for Saturday Review found himself "more involved'' than "In Cold Blood.'' Successful copyright infringement lawsuit against Universal Pictures, the scoundrels. Swam a thousand yards daily with the grace and beauty of a floating log. Pacemaker installed for slow heart beat and afib. Treated in 2000 for malignant tumor with predicted 5% chance of future problems. Ha! In lieu of flowers, have a martini. Try Boodles gin. Parting words: Great run! Much joy! For sexual escapades, see addenda. (This self-edited classified obit would normally cost $1,731.01. The in-house "professional courtesy'' rate knocked it down to Zero.) A memorial service for Gene Miller will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Plymouth Congregational Church, 3400 Devon Road, in Coconut Grove. In lieu of flowers, the family suggested contributions to The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 1101 Wilson Blvd., Suite 1100, Arlington, Va., 22209. To visit this Guest Book Online, go to www.herald.com/obituaries.
Published in the Miami Herald on June 18, 2005
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