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Ray Miller

Obituary Condolences

RAY MILLER begrudgingly accepted an appointment as Texas Historian with the Celestial Broadcasting System on the 27th of September 2008. A mere listing of his accomplishments and awards would obscure his core contribution: he was an oral historian for our age. Coming to television in its infancy, he selected the news as his medium, and became a local, statewide and national presence as News Director of KPRC Radio and KPRC TV for forty-two years. Few will remember that he began his radio broadcasting career in 1938 in his native Ft. Worth. His news was informed, not sensational, respectful of the past, anchored in scholarship and truth. At the mention of his name, many will remember his wiry intensity, his black horn rim glasses, and his elegant speaking voice - narrating our history and the culture of our times. No yarn-spinner, Ray Miller was a different kind of story teller. He knew the inside story. He took the time to learn and to listen. Not known for his tolerance, he nevertheless mentored many professionals who credit his guidance and leadership as pivotal to the growth of American broadcast journalism. Ray hired Houston's first female television journalist, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. She remembered that Ray "impacted me in many ways: to strive for excellence, to be the very best, never take no for an answer." Dan Rather said Ray was so competitive that "he would not let you see the face on the dime he used to call in a story" but was so honest "you could shoot dice with him over the phone." Former Channel 2 and Channel 11 anchor Steve Smith called him "by far the best teacher I ever had in this business" and says he is "still trying to satisfy Ray Miller." Though formal and keeping a newsman's distance, he also found the relevance in small moments and places, best seen in his famous "Eyes of Texas" television series. He was loved and respected by thousands who took his Harris County bus tours. Shy and reserved, he was lucky to select a most elegant and socially graceful wife in Veronica. An exacting if distant father, he was very proud of his two sons, Geoff and Gray, who shared his love of history. After over fifty years in broadcast journalism, Ray retired and joined the staff of his friend Steve Radack, Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner, where he worked until his retirement in 2007. History caught up with Ray, but not before his contributions were honored with several significant awards. He was recognized with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Houston. The Texas Association of Broadcasters hailed Miller as a "Pioneer Broadcaster." While at KPRC, he won a Peabody Award, the broadcast equivalent of a Pulitzer Prize. He was a Knight of San Jacinto. And at a delightful public celebration Commissioner Radack dedicated Ray Miller Park in West Houston. The Texas Legislature recently honored him as a "Texas Legend." Ray can still be heard orienting jury panels for Harris County courts. His ten books can be read by those interested in exploring Texas. We honor his new calling, his new desk, his new assignment on the cusp of history and the news. Ray was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 61 years, the late Veronica Gray Miller, his parents, sisters Bette Miller and Pat Miller Hoera, brother Gene Miller, and son Geoffrey Miller. He is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Judge Gray Hampton Miller and Joanne Smaistrla Miller, their family: Shannon Miller Prendki and her husband, Joe Prendki; Christian Barrett Miller and his wife, Anne Walker Miller; great-granddaughters Elizabeth James Miller and Emmelene Gray Prendki, and a new great grandchild born today. The family is grateful to Ruby Jones for her support and assistance. A memorial service will be conducted at ten o'clock in the morning on Friday, the 3rd of October, at St. Michael Catholic Church, 1801 Sage Road in Houston. The family will gather for a private burial at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston. It was his wish that there be no sad songs and that any remembrances be in the form of contributions to Strake Jesuit College Preparatory, Geoffrey Miller Scholarship Fund, 8900 Bellaire Boulevard, Houston, Texas 77036. Those desiring to electronically share tributes or remembrances with the family may do so via the internet website of www.mem.com (making everlasting memories).

Published in Houston Chronicle on Sept. 30, 2008
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