Lawyer Harry B. Miller Jr., active in politics and UK basketball recruiting, dies at age 89

kward1@herald-leader.comNovember 12, 2013 

Lexington attorney Harry B. Miller Jr., 89, who was active in Democratic politics and served as a recruiter for University of Kentucky basketball under Coach Adolph Rupp, died Monday at his home.

Mr. Miller was a founding partner in the law firm Miller, Griffin & Marks and was known for his work in equine law. Through the years, he represented Mary Lou and Cornelius Vanderbilt "Sonny" Whitney, Spendthrift Farm founder Leslie Combs and actor and horseman William Shatner.

Mr. Miller's son, former Herald-Leader city editor John Winn Miller, said his father "was a great storyteller and very outgoing," but as an attorney, "he was a bulldog."

He also was known as a great supporter of Democratic political candidates.

Mr. Miller served as an adviser to governors Bert Combs and Edward "Ned" Breathitt and spent eight years as treasurer for the state Democratic Party.

State Sen. Julian Carroll of Frankfort described Mr. Miller as his "great friend of many, many years" and "an astute political adviser."

"He was always one of the first team players when it came to supporting his candidate for statewide office," Carroll said. "He knew who could be helpful to you."

Mr. Miller oversaw Adlai Stevenson's visits to Lexington during his two presidential runs in the 1950s, and in 1960, when then-Sen. John F. Kennedy visited Lexington, Mr. Miller picked him up at the airport and escorted Kennedy to the Phoenix Hotel, where they smoked cigars.

After he was elected, Kennedy offered Mr. Miller a post in the Justice Department, but he declined.

Mr. Miller and his wife of 50 years, Patricia, helped UK Coach Adolph Rupp recruit and were known for their hospitality to young players. Pat Miller died in 1997.

One of Rupp's Runts, Larry Conley, said he spent a lot of time at the Millers' home during his years at UK, and he maintained a close relationship with Mr. Miller afterward.

"There are very few people that I've ever met that I respected more than Harry Miller," Conley said. "I can't tell you how much I will miss him."

Mr. Miller was born in Lexington and grew up in Mount Sterling with his mother, Ann, and stepfather, Circuit Judge Jack Winn.

He enlisted in the Army in 1942 and served stateside during the war. After graduating from UK College of Law, he initially joined the Brown & Miller law firm with his father, Harry Miller Sr., and John Y. Brown Sr.

In addition to son John Winn Miller, Mr. Miller is survived by a daughter, Robin Downing of Lexington; and sons Tom Miller of Lexington and Harry B. Miller III of Los Angeles.

Services will be at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church. Kerr Brothers Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Karla Ward: (859) 231-3314. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety

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