Family, friends and representatives with the City of Sequim learned last week that Sequim City Councilor John Miller, 62, died on Wednesday, Nov. 29 of cardiac arrest at Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton.
Sequim Mayor Dennis Smith said they are “shocked and saddened” to learn of Miller’s passing.
“John was well-known and active in the community and a caring member of the city council,” he said.
Miller, originally from California, moved to Sequim in 2006 after retiring from Safeway in California after 34½ years.
He’s survived by his daughter Jamie Miller, 21, a nursing student at Eastern Washington University.
Miller’s best friends Jerry and Kathy Petree of Sequim said they met Miller in a parking lot and they began admiring one another’s Harley motorcycles.
“With their love for riding, they just hit it off,” Kathy Petree said about her husband and Miller’s friendship. “He’s been with us almost every day for the last 11 years.”
Petree said Miller had been feeling ill on Nov. 29 and went to Olympic Medical Center in Sequim before being taken by ambulance to Bremerton.
“He’s very well-loved and had friends everywhere in the community,” Petree said. “One of the places he frequented often was Stymie’s. Everyone knows him there. When my husband told his friends, the whole place fell apart. He was just magic in everyone’s lives.”
City Manager Charlie Bush said Miller will be missed by those around him.
“We will miss his sense of humor and perspective on community issues,” he said. “Our hearts go out to his family and loved ones.”
Miller was elected in 2015 to city council seat No. 7 for a term of service through Dec. 2019. He began serving the city on Jan. 1, 2016, and served on the city’s Finance Committee, the Clallam Transit System Board of Directors and the Solid Waste Advisory Committee.
He previously ran for city council in 2011.
When first running for office, Miller wanted the city to focus on immediate needs such as streets, sidewalks and the police department.
“We should pay for that then we start adding to our good community,” Miller said.
Petree said Miller was invested in protecting Sequim’s future particularly the immediate area, such as its ecology.
She also said he was very opinionated, but decided to turn that energy into representing the city.
“People love him on the council,” Petree said.
Fellow city councilor Pam Leonard-Ray, who was elected the same time as Miller, said he cared deeply for the community.
“He was someone who really liked to cut through nonsense and get to the point about issues,” she said.
She added he was also well-known in the community.
“He was someone who didn’t talk a lot (on council) but he thought deeply,” she said. “He had a great sense of humor and he wanted to do what was right for the residents and business members. (His death) was a great shock.”
Despite the possible perceived insensitivity behind the formality, Bush said state law requires the city fill Miller’s seat within 90 days after a resignation or death, or county commissioners will make a decision for the city on appointing a new councilor.
“This is all still new information and we’ll get an ad out after the Dec. 11 city council meeting,” Bush said. “We’ll need to decide on candidate interviews in January.”
Leonard-Ray said this will be a difficult time for city government.
“They will have a difficult time filling his shoes with someone with the same connections,” she said.
A memorial kiosk has been set up on the Civic Center Plaza, 152 West Cedar St., for the community to leave cards and condolences that will be given to Miller’s family.