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Community gathers to celebrate life of former Citrus Heights councilman

Citrus Heights police Sgt. Bill Dunning presents the American Flag to Steve Miller’s widow at a celebration of life for the former city councilman on April 15, 2023. // M. Hazlip

By Mike Hazlip—
Community leaders joined friends and family to celebrate the life of former Citrus Heights Councilman Steve Miller on Saturday, following his unexpected death last month.

Attendees gathered at the Citrus Heights Community Center to reflect on Miller’s contributions to his community. Among the speakers was former councilwoman Jeannie Bruins who spoke of Miller’s 17 years as a councilman and mayor.

Bruins recalled Miller’s years of service on the City Council and his chance meeting with a SAFE Credit Union executive that led to developing a branch location at Mesa Verde High School run by students under adult supervision. Bruins also highlighted Miller’s work with the regional transit board to use Citrus Heights as a test community for the Smart Ride program, which was then in its infancy.

“I watched Steve grow from an inexperienced appointed council member, to a statesman who advocated for Citrus Heights,” said Bruins. “And that’s how I see Steve, I see him as a public servant, I see him as a statesman, and I see him as a man of authenticity.”

Bruins also recalled Miller’s efforts to mingle with community members at various events, and his desire to weigh difficult issues that came before the council.

Family friend Vicki Shepard-Martin read remarks by Miller’s wife, Nanette, who called her husband “the love of my life, my soulmate, my best friend, my confidant, and my connection to the world.”

Nanette Miller said her late husband’s lasting legacy is their children, and recalled his sense of humor and the times they spent at comedy clubs. The Miller’s recently celebrated their 39th anniversary, she said.

“Steve and I were very comfortable with an old-school marriage,” Nanette Miller said. “He loved coming home to the smell of dinner and freshly baked cookies. I loved being the house wife. I always supported his service to others. I knew he was destined to do great things.”

A song that carried special meaning for Steve Miller was “Ripple” by the Grateful Dead, Nanette said. The song describes how one life touches many others like a pebble creating ripples in a pond, and the lyrics were printed on the event program for attendees to read.

“But Steve wasn’t a pebble, he was a boulder, and it wasn’t a ripple, it was a tidal wave,” Nanette Miller said. “He made a huge impact on the world and he touched so many lives.”

Miller’s son and daughter, Travis Miller and Nicky Chimara, recalled their father as did his sister, Mary Miller.

Citrus Heights Police Sgt. Bill Dunning presented the American Flag to his wife and a video presentation by Miller’s daughter closed out the event.

Miller died unexpectedly of natural causes on Saturday, March 25. He was elected to represent Citrus Heights on the newly expanded San Juan Unified School board last November after serving on the Citrus Heights City Council and taking his turn multiple times as mayor.

Miller told The Sentinel in a June 2021 interview that his life of community service was an effort to improve the lives of those around him.

“That’s why I enjoy doing what I’m doing,” Steve Miller said. “It’s where the rubber meets the pavement and you can see the results of what you’re doing.”

Miller is survived by his wife, two children, and six grandchildren.

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