Aug. 13—An eastern Kentucky native who will be remembered as an "authoritative presence," according to his nephew, has died at age 90 in Washington, D.C.
Oral Miller, who lost his sight in third grade in an unfortunate accident, never let his visual impairment hinder him.
Originally from Sophie, Carter County, Miller moved to Ashland at a young age. He's been in Washington since the late-1950s.
Robert Miller, Oral's nephew, is an attorney in Carter County. Robert's dad, Glenn, passed away several years ago. George Miller was the second brother. Charles was the fourth of four siblings in the Miller family. Oral was the last living of the quartet.
Oral Miller died on Sunday, Aug. 6.
Robert Miller said a service will take place soon — tentatively this Friday — is planned at Sparks Funeral Home. There will be a celebration-of-life event in Washington, too.
Oral's first wife still lives in Ashland, Robert Miller said. His second wife passed away nearly two decades ago and is buried in Frederick, Maryland. Oral will likely be laid to rest with her.
Miller was the valedictorian at Louisville Male High School in 1951. He graduated near the top of his class at Princeton University. He then went to the University of Chicago Law School. Two of his classmates, Robert Miller, were former presidential candidate Ralph Nader and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
Shortly after, he practiced for Claude Asbury, an attorney in Catlettsburg.
After working with the U.S. Navy, Miller practiced with the U.S. Small Business Administration for 22 years.
He eventually served as President and Executive Director of the American Counsel of the Blind.
Miller was an avid advocate for the Americans with Disabilities Act. It was adopted in 1980.
An athlete as well, Miller competed in wrestling, rowing, bowling and skiing over the years. He was affiliated with the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes and the International Blind Sports Association.
"He found a niche helping developing countries establish athletic programs for handicapped individuals," Robert Miller said. "He was a very active person until probably five years ago."
Oral Miller was a member of a rowing crew on the Potomac River called the Out of Sight Dragons.
Robert Miller said his uncle was a "very fine man" who was "very considerate of others."
"Philanthropic in nature, tremendous personality," Miller said. "His presence took over the room."
Oral Miller was an avid traveler, Robert Miller said.
"I like to say he went to China before Richard Nixon did," Robert said with a laugh.
Oral Miller liked to joke with his nephew about their favorite sports teams. Oral was a Washington Commanders and Nationals fan. Robert's allegiance lies with the Bengals and Reds.
"He followed sports, kept up on current events, stayed pretty involved in community affairs," Robert Miller said.
Robert said he frequented Washington three or four times a year.
"I always enjoyed going up to visit with him," he said. "He always maintained a good appetite. We'd go out and usually have a steak and apple pie with ice cream."
In March 2022, he was hospitalized with pneumonia. He never truly recovered, Robert said.
Oral Miller earned a Migil Medal from the American Foundation for the Blind in 2014. Well into his 80s, he was still making an impact.