Larry Miller

Update, Sunday, February 22:

Here are the announced services for Larry Miller.

Friday, February 27 – Viewing from 4 – 8 PM at Energy Solutions Area
(formerly Delta Center)

Saturday, February 28 – Funeral service at 12 noon at Energy Solutions Arena

Interment follows the funeral at Salt Lake City Cemetery – 200 N Street –
Salt Lake City.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Larry H. Miller
Charities – 301 W. South Temple – SLC, UT 84101

We are saddened to report the passing of longtime fastpitch player and booster, Larry Miller. Miller was widely known to the sporting world as the owner of the Utah Jazz NBA team, but to those of us in the fastpitch community, we will remember him as a longtime pitcher and generous, hard working sponsor of Larry Miller Toyota teams, one of the world’s top open teams, with the legendary, ISC Hall of Famer, Peter Meredith. Miller also sponsored youth teams, including Larry Miller Chevrolet. He died of complications from Type 2 Diabetes, at the age of 64. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.

From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Sure, you knew this guy, but . . .
Quiet legacy » Much of his community contribution was out of the public eye
By Steven Oberbeck And Mike Gorrell

Everybody knew this guy because of the Utah Jazz and all of his car dealerships.

Yet there were things about Larry H. Miller — the businessman — that were not as high profile, things he quietly did out of the public eye that demonstrated his devotion to his community and the free enterprise system.

He taught masters of business administration classes for years at Brigham Young University.

He donated millions of dollars to build a 20-acre Salt Lake Community College campus in Sandy where students learn entrepreneurial skills.

For two years he underwrote an exchange program between Utah Valley Community College and the Kiev College of Hotel Management in Ukraine.

And even as his health declined, Miller gave money to help establish a police officer training center.

“The true legacy of Larry Miller is that people will never really know all that he did,” said Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan. “He did a lot of things behind the scenes and never asked for a single thing in return.”

And what did he give to Utahns?

The chance to enjoy sports through his basketball, baseball, race car and hockey operations — and access to many of those games through his television and radio stations. He showed movies, too, at five different Megaplex Theatres complexes. He sold sports memorabilia at retail stores, had a catering business, provided advertising and media services.

And, of course, he sold cars.

From a modest start in 1979, he passed away owning more than 40 dealerships in six Western states, representing nearly two dozen brands. His group of companies also included a financing operation to help people buy cars and a service system when repairs were necessary.

“Larry was not only one of the finest auto dealers in the country, he was also one of the finest humanitarians,” said Iowan John McEleney, chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association. “In fact, it would be hard to find a finer human being. When it came to helping others, Larry set the standard.”

A. Sterling Francom, former director of SLCC’s Center for Entrepreneurship Training, saw Miller in much the same light.

“There are literally hundreds of small businesses operating in Utah today” whose owners were taught and received encouragement and guidance from Miller, who was always generous with his advice, Francom said. This relationship dates to 1990 when Miller, who had taught business management classes at BYU, approached Francom about helping prepare community college students for the business world.

“Things grew from there,” he said. “We brought him in as a guest speaker and he was soon doing seminars. Eventually [Miller] broached the idea of building the entrepreneurship center. And he went out and found the land for it.”

Francom estimated Miller’s donations to the school approached $100 million.

Not bad for a kid who “wasn’t motivated” to study much at West High School or in the one quarter he attended the University of Utah before dropping out. Miller was more into drag racing and being a fastpitch softball pitcher.

But those two interests helped get him into the car business. In 1970 he moved to Denver where he worked at Stevinson Toyota, ultimately running five dealerships and earning $100,000 a year. He also pitched for the company’s elite-level team.

Miller returned to Utah in 1979 and purchased his first dealership. By 1984, he was the state’s top seller of cars. His rise prompted former automobile dealer Cline Dahle to describe him as “very aggressive, very modern. He’s like a tree. He’s growing stronger, taller and quicker than any other tree in the valley.”

Less than a year later, Miller acquired half of the Jazz. He would own it all by 1987, turning the franchise into a state institution. Miller also bought the Salt Lake Golden Eagles hockey club in 1991, a deal he later described as one of the worst decisions he ever made.

When he sold the hockey team in 1994, Miller somberly addressed the news media, saying “I don’t like losing. It’s difficult for me to walk away. I just can’t see how to make it work.”

That experience was characteristic of one of his strengths as a businessman — his willingness to face reality and adapt to changing circumstances.

Miller demonstrated that again just last month when he sold The Mayan and Spaghetti Mama’s restaurants in Jordan Commons, the 250,000-square-foot retail and office complex he built in Sandy.

Keith Marshall of South Carolina-based Atlantic Restaurant Consultants, which purchased the restaurants, said he met Miller only a month ago but was impressed with the vision Miller had in building The Mayan, with its indoor cliff divers and jungle motif.

“It says a lot about his vision that he was also willing to turn those properties over to us, knowing we could improve them,” said Marshall.

But what Miller will be remembered for most is keeping the Jazz in Utah.

“It may sound a little corny,” he once told The Tribune , “but to be able to be the catalyst for something this significant in this community, it’s a neat feeling. It’s not one of being haughty or arrogant. I love Utah. I love Salt Lake City. It’s a community I’m interested in giving something back to.”

More after the jump.

From KSL TV and radio:

Larry H. Miller passes away

February 20th, 2009 @ 10:01pm

Businessman, entrepreneur, and certainly a man who loved sports, Larry H. Miller, has died. He passed away this afternoon from complications related to type 2 diabetes. He was 64 years old.

Miller has been in poor health for some time, suffering a heart attack and kidney failure in June and then having both his legs amputated just below the knee a couple of weeks ago.

On Thursday, Feb. 12, Miller received news that he was suffering from calciphylaxis, a rare condition where calcium gets deposited in blood vessels, keeping tissue from getting oxygen, which leads to tissue death. It is usually found in patients suffering from kidney disease and parathyroid problems. At that point, doctors told him he had a matter of days to live.

At a press conference, his physician, Dr. Bill Dunson said, “He had the most incredible health challenges over the last 6 months. I think a lot of that, over the last 30 years of having diabetes, built up until finally, over the last 6 months, the physical part of him finally just gave out. I don’t think the mental or the spiritual part ever gave out of Larry Miller.”

Prior to learning of this condition, his family says Miller fully expected to recover from his recent health problems and move on. In fact, they say he decided to have his legs amputated in order to improve his quality of life.

Dunson also said Miller has been close to death on multiple occasions over the last 6 months.

The last time Miller was seen in public was when he was inducted into the Utah Auto Dealer’s Hall of Fame.

Miller is survived by his wife, Karen Gail Saxton Miller, their four sons and one daughter, 21 grandchildren, and one great grandchild. He valued his family as his greatest accomplishment.

Of his death, Miller’s son Steve said, “Just like everything else he’s done, he scripted it perfectly, and the outcome is as beautiful as it could be. He is in a better place. We are grateful for the time that we’ve had with him.”

Miller was born in Salt Lake City in 1944 and went on to become one of Utah’s most successful and influential entrepreneurs. Over the years, he amassed more than 80 businesses and properties.

A public service will be held for Miller, though details of when and where have not been decided at this time.

Sports legacy

Miller loved racing cars and was an outstanding fast-pitch softball player. From the early 60s to the mid-80s he was active in both.

He turned his attention to his love for cars and racing when he built Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele.

Miller also purchased the Salt Lake Bees baseball team, and he is credited for saving the Jazz from leaving Utah back in the mid 1980s. In 1985, he bought a 50 percent share of the Jazz for $8 million; a year later, he purchased the remaining 50 percent for $14 million.

He later built the Delta Center, now EnergySolutions Arena. Friday night the flag outside the arena was lowered to half-staff.

Larry H. Miller Group of businesses

Miller has had an impact in Utah more than most people realize, not only in the sports world, but in many aspects in the community — from his 39 car dealerships, to restaurants, to movie theaters.

In 1966, he became a parts manager for a Utah auto dealer. He moved to Denver in 1970 and for the next 9 years he managed as many as 5 Toyota dealerships.

In 1979, he came back to Salt Lake and opened Larry H. Miller Toyota. He would eventually acquire 39 dealerships in several western states.

A press release from the Larry Miller Group said, “Leaving behind a profound professional and personal legacy, the entities Miller created have had a significant and lasting impact on the communities in which he did business, and the more than 7,000 individuals he employed.”

His wife Gail said, “It’s interesting to look at the strength he had, the vision he had, the character he had, the desire to just do good things. And he wore himself out doing it.”

His family has said they don’t want things to change in the way Miller’s businesses are run. Gail said, “We hope it won’t change. We’re dedicated to carrying out his legacy. I was just thinking, one of my favorite things about Larry is there were no barriers. He treated everyone the same. He didn’t see color, he didn’t see race, he didn’t see rich, he didn’t see poor. He loved people and that was a hallmark of his character. And I think that will live on.”

Contribution to the community

Miller’s son Greg says his father didn’t want his legacy to be about his commercial ventures, but rather in the things he did to create opportunities for others.

“He felt that both of those things [job opportunities and higher education] would create opportunities for people, once they went into those experiences, to reach out and hopefully have their turn to make life better for others,” he said.

Miller coined the phrase “Go about doing good until there is too much good in the world.”

He established the Larry H. Miller Charities, which was funded by fundraising events and through contributions from his various businesses and from employees. Through that cause, Miller donated millions of dollars to the community.

Miller and his wife Gail have give out 300 college scholarships a year.

“Larry and Gail have always stressed the importance of giving back to the communities in which we do business. Our customers have supported us and it is important that we show our appreciation by helping those in need,” said Greg Miller, eldest son and CEO of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies. “Larry felt that his legacy isn’t in business as much as it was in creating opportunities for good jobs and higher education,” he said.

According to a press release issued by the Larry H. Miller Group, he and his wife donated millions of dollars to Utah-based colleges and universities for campus improvements such as the state-of-the-art softball and baseball complexes at BYU.

The Larry H. Miller Campus of the Salt Lake Community College, was completed in fall 2001 and includes the Larry H. Miller Entrepreneurship Training Center and The Larry and Gail Miller Public Safety Education & Training Center.

His commercials included the tag line, “After all, you know this guy.” And with his larger-than-life public persona, many Utahns felt as if that were true. Hundreds of Utahns, both those who knew him personally and those who knew him only as a public figure, are leaving their condolences on

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