SEQUIM — A Sequim City Council member has died.
Councilman John Miller died on Wednesday of cardiac arrest at Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton. He was 62.
Sequim Mayor Dennis Smith said those who knew him are “shocked and saddened” to learn of Miller’s death.
“John was well-known and active in the community and a caring member of the City Council,” Smith said.
A memorial kiosk has been set up on the Civic Center Plaza, 152 W. Cedar St., for the community to leave cards and condolences that will be given to the family.
Miller, originally from California, moved to Sequim in 2006, He had retired from Safeway in California after 34½ years.
He is survived by his daughter, Jamie Miller, 21, a nursing student at Eastern Washington University.
Miller’s best friends, Jerry and Kathy Petree of Sequim, said they met Miller in a parking lot and they began admiring one another’s Harley motorcycles.
“With their love for riding, they just hit it off,” Kathy Petree said about her husband and Miller’s friendship. “He’s been with us almost every day for the last 11 years.”
Petree said Miller had been feeling ill on Wednesday and went to Olympic Medical Center in Sequim before being taken by ambulance to Bremerton.
“He’s very well-loved and had friends everywhere in the community,” Petree said. “One of the places he frequented often was Stymie’s. Everyone knows him there.
“When my husband told his friends, the whole place fell apart. He was just magic in everyone’s lives.”
City Manager Charlie Bush said Miller will be missed by those around him.
“We will miss his sense of humor and perspective on community issues,” he said. “Our hearts go out to his family and loved ones.”
Miller was elected in 2015 to the council Position 7 seat for a four-year term.
He took office on Jan. 1, 2016, and served on the city’s Finance Committee, the Clallam Transit System board of directors, and the Solid Waste Advisory Committee. He had previously run for City Council in 2011.
When first running for office, Miller wanted the city to focus on such immediate needs as streets, sidewalks and the police department.
“We should pay for that, then we start adding to our good community,” he said.
Petree said Miller was invested in protecting Sequim’s future particularly the immediate area, such as its ecology.
She also said he was very opinionated but decided to turn that energy into representing the city.
“People love him on the council,” Petree said.
Fellow council member Pam Leonard-Ray, who was elected the same time as Miller, said Miller cared deeply for the community.
“He was someone who really liked to cut through nonsense and get to the point about issues,” she said.
She added he was also well-known in the community.
“He was someone who didn’t talk a lot (on council) but he thought deeply,” she said. “He had a great sense of humor and he wanted to do what was right for the residents and business members. (His death) was a great shock.”
Despite the possible insensitivity behind the formality, Bush said state law requires the city fill Miller’s seat within 90 days after a resignation or death, or county commissioners will make a decision for the city on appointing a new council member.
“This is all still new information and we’ll get an ad out after the Dec. 11 city council meeting,” Bush said. “We’ll need to decide on candidate interviews in January.”
Leonard-Ray said this will be a difficult time for city government.
“They will have a difficult time filling his shoes with someone with the same connections,” she said.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.