Remembering Congressman Clarence Miller

Published 8:34 am Tuesday, August 9, 2011

In an Ohio House session, when you want to stand up to say something personal, you ask for a point of personal privilege.

I am asking for a point of personal privilege with my newspaper column this week in recognizing a great man: Congressman Clarence Miller.

Twenty years have passed since he was a Congressman and many might not know or remember him, but his impact on our area and nation lives on today.

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He served nearly all of the 87th House District that I currently represent, with his district stretching from Newark to Ironton.

Even as a kid, I was always interested in politics. I remember one day, when I was in the second grade, seeing one of his yard signs in Glen Roy on the bus ride home from Coalton school.

I remember seeing it and thinking that I would like to work for him someday. In fact, my first job out of college was working for the Congressman.

I had attended Ohio University and volunteered for State Representative Buzz Ball—another former Miller staffer—and that’s how I made contact with Congressman Miller’s staff.

I didn’t hear from them until about a month after I graduated from OU, and I was really worried.

I got a call at the library where I worked that Congressman Miller wanted to interview me. I borrowed a suit from my dad and made the trip to Lancaster with Buzz’s car.

When I arrived, Congressman Miller and I were wearing the same suit. He hired me on a temporary basis to represent him at the county fairs, which incidentally, I am still attending 30 years later as representative.

On Christmas Eve, he took the district staff to lunch and asked if I had enough to do.

I responded that I could really do more. He had his assistant schedule a flight to Washington the day after Christmas, and I worked for him there and in the district.

A very kind man, he was also genuine in that he was the same person whether he was in Waterloo or Washington. I learned many of the values that I use in representing my constituents from Congressman Miller.

He was personally engaged in helping families with their problems regarding federal government, and he was before his time in trying to curb government spending—frugal in public service and by nature.

People throughout southern Ohio are constantly asking me about Congressman Miller.

Many of them also have stories about what he did for them or visiting with him in Washington.

I remember that he was very involved with the efforts to open Ironton Iron, and I remember him stopping by the bridge in Proctorville as it was constructed. He also had vivid memories of the Silver Bridge tragedy and his efforts to help those families.

Growing up in Jackson County, it was a real honor to have him speak at various political functions.

One of the favorite campaign stories is about when he first ran and his long-time aide hit a chicken in Vinton County, and the aide had to own up to it.

He also used to tell a story about a man who called him at 3 a.m. about a concern that he had. Congressman Miller said out of curiosity, “Why did you call me at this hour?”

The man replied, “I thought you said that you worked 24 hours a day, so I didn’t think it made any difference.”

Congressman Miller was a respected and honest man who served his country and loved his family, and he did it all of the time — 24 hours a day, every day of his life. His influence will live on through all of the lives that he touched.

Thank you, Congressman Miller.

John Carey serves in Ohio’s 87th District of the House of Representatives, which includes eastern Lawrence County. He can be reached at (614) 466-1366, by writing to: Ohio House of Representatives, 77 S. High St., Columbus, OH 43215, or via e-mail at