The City of Torrance Sadly Announces the Passing of Former Torrance Mayor Ken Miller
Born in the El Prado Apartments in Downtown Torrance, Ken was a life-long resident of Torrance. As a child, he would run around El Prado Ave., which was a dirt road at the time, and throw baseballs and play with the other children in the area. He later moved with his family into a house on Gramercy Ave. and was a neighbor and friend to Olympian and World War II hero, Louis Zamperini.
Living in Torrance his entire life, Ken saw a lot of the growth and development of the City as it happened. He saw the population skyrocket in the 1950’s after developers came to the City to make more housing.
Ken graduated from Torrance High School in 1941 where he excelled in basketball. When WWII broke out Miller joined the US Army Air Corps and was shipped off to the CBI (China, Burma and India). After the war, Miller went to Compton Junior College for two years. Soon after, he attended Occidental College to get his B.A. and received his teaching credentials at USC. After teaching for several years, Ken began selling property as a realtor and quickly fell in love with his new work.
In 1952 marred his wife Judy after only 3 dates and 2 months of meeting. Together they raised their children Jim, Randy and Kathy.
Ken started his career in local government on the Torrance Planning Commission from 1960 – 1962. He then ran for City Council and was a Councilmember from 1962-1970. Soon after his second City Council term ended, Ken became the Mayor of Torrance from 1970-1978. Ken’s courageous leadership was a vital ingredient in maintaining the delicate balance between conflicting needs and priorities.
Ever fair and reasonable in his approach, Ken’s major concerns during his 18 years in office focused on improving quality of life for people in Torrance. These concerns encompassed property tax relief; judicious application of Federal revenue-sharing programs, establishment of an independent library system; expansion of cultural and recreational programs; controls on environment pollution and hazards; strengthening police and fire protection; and long-range planning and budgeting for the continued health of the City. He also sought and ultimately got a change to the City Charter to limit the mayor to two terms.
Also during his time as Mayor, Ken focused on gaining more parkland for the City and acquired land that would become parts of Columbia Park and Wilson Park. He also made sure that developers set aside pockets of land while making houses so that they would be saved for parks. He was instrumental in the Meadow Park Redevelopment Project and the build out of the Del Amo Fashion Center extending the Mall from Hawthorne Blvd. to Madrona Blvd.
He was an active Kiwanian; Elk; American Legion and Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce member, and a past President of the Torrance-Lomita Board of Realtors. He had a role in the creation of the Torrance Sister City Association, a long-standing program that promotes friendship, goodwill, and understanding between the City of Torrance and the City of Kashiwa, Japan.
“Mayor Ken” left an immeasurable impression on the City. His effective contributions have impacted the way the City looks today and clearly illustrate what an understanding of good government and community service can mean. Torrance Mayor, Patrick J. Furey ordered City flags to be flown at half-staff in his memory.
Ken is survived by his wife of 66 years Joan (Judy), sons Randy and Jim and daughter Cathi (Larkin), grandchildren Jake, Conor, Larisa, Shane, Belinda, Ashley, and great grandson Bradley. He will be deeply missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him.