Lexington will miss The Millers

Former Lexington Mayor Pam Miller in front of the Downtown Arts Center which will be renamed in her honor on Tuesday, May 9.
Former Lexington Mayor Pam Miller in front of the Downtown Arts Center which will be renamed in her honor on Tuesday, May 9. cbertram@herald-leader.com

Lexington would be a different — and duller — place if 47 years ago a medical school other than the University of Kentucky’s had snagged Dr. Ralph Miller.

Lucky for us, it was UK. Like so many women of her generation, Pam Miller followed her husband on his career path.

And then she blazed her own trail.

As the Millers pack up and head to a retirement community in Lexington, Mass., near their children and grandchildren, it’s fun to think back to just how revolutionary this energetic, well-educated, plainspoken, liberated (in the lingo of the era), young, New England Yankee must have seemed to some in tradition-bound Lexington in 1970.

Pam Miller became the first woman elected to the brand new Urban County Council in 1973 and helped set the bar high for public service in Lexington’s merged government.

An inspiration and role model to people across Kentucky, she was later elected vice mayor and then Lexington’s first woman mayor, a post she twice won after succeeding Mayor Scotty Baesler when he went to Congress.

Competitive in politics and on the tennis court, she doesn’t hesitate to admit her bad moves, a form of humility that some of today’s puffed-up politicians should emulate.

As Beth Musgrave reported, Miller’s mark goes far beyond City Hall. A gifted pianist, she championed the arts, pushed to save the Kentucky and State theaters, helped start the Lexington Children’s Museum, oversaw creation of the Downtown Arts Center and raised money for the University of Kentucky Opera program.

Miller also helped usher in historic education reforms in Kentucky as a founding member of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.

Long ago, as a newcomer to Lexington and craving fresh food to feed her family, she did the legwork to create the downtown farmers market, now one of her adopted hometown’s most beloved traditions.

How fitting that the city is renaming the Downtown Arts Center in her honor and marking the occasion with a reception from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. May 9 at the arts center, 141 E. Main St.

We wish the Millers well and hope they’ll be back often.


What: A celebration to honor former Mayor Pam Miller and Dr. Ralph Miller

When: 5 p.m. reception; 6:30 p.m. program, Tuesday, May 9

Where: Downtown Arts Center, 141 E. Main St.

Complimentary valet parking, free parking in Fayette Circuit and District Court garages