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Miller, Ray Elvin (1919–2008)

George Slaughter Biography Entry

Ray Miller, radio and television journalist and author, was born on March 28, 1919, in Fort Worth, Texas. He was the son of Franz Elvin Miller and Hazel (Hampton) Miller. He grew up in Fort Worth and was still living there at the time of the 1940 federal census, which listed his occupation as a radio announcer for the Texas State Network. That same year he left his job at KFJZ radio in Fort Worth and moved to Houston, because he was offered a better job at KPRC radio.

During World War II, Miller served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Theater, where he met the Australian-born Veronica Gray. They married, settled in Houston, and had two sons, Gray Hampton Miller and Geoffrey Owen Miller. Ray Miller resumed his career at KPRC and eventually moved to KPRC-TV, Houston’s NBC affiliate, when former Gov. William P. Hobby and his family purchased the television station in 1950. Miller became KPRC-TV’s news director in 1959. He was known as a pioneer in local television news coverage. He was also known as both a demanding boss and a mentor figure to those with whom he worked.

Some of Miller’s proteges went on to national prominence. He hired Kay Bailey Hutchinson, who went on to serve as a U.S. senator from Texas. He also hired Tom Jarriel, who became a longtime ABC News reporter. News anchor Steve Smith, who worked at both KPRC-TV and KHOU-TV, Houston’s CBS affiliate, characterized Miller as the “best teacher” he ever had in the news business.” Dan Rather, who also worked at KHOU-TV, was a respected competitor and recalled that Miller was so honest “you could shoot dice with him over the phone.”

As news director, Miller spent most of his time off camera and supervised local news coverage. Some stories were nationally significant, including Hurricane Carla (1961), the creation and opening of the Houston Astrodome (1965), and the relocation and activities of the Houston-based manned spaceflight program during the 1960s.

Not all of Miller’s time was spent off camera, however. In 1969 he originated and hosted The Eyes of Texas, a weekly half-hour program that focused on stories about Texas and its people. The show’s popularity led Miller to write a series of six travel books focusing on different regions of the state. He also wrote books on Texas forts, Texas parks, and histories of both Houston (Ray Miller’s Houston [1982]) and Galveston (Ray Miller’s Galveston [1983]).

Miller retired as KPRC-TV news director in 1979. He later wrote essays for KHOU-TV before retiring from journalism and joining the office of Harris County commissioner Steve Radack, where he focused on special projects. During his career Miller was honored with a number of awards, including the prestigious Peabody Award when he was at KPRC, “Pioneer Broadcaster” by the Texas Association of Broadcasters, “Texas Legend” by the Texas legislature, and an honorary doctorate of humane letters from the University of Houston. Ray Miller Park, a fifteen-acre county park at 1800 Eldridge Parkway in west Houston, was named in Miller’s honor. As of the 2010s, prospective Harris County jurors still heard Miller’s voice in an orientation video broadcast in the jury assembly room.

Ray Elvin Miller died on September 27, 2008. He was eighty-nine. His wife, Veronica, died the previous month, and their younger son, Geoffrey, died in 1988. A funeral Mass was held at St. Michael Catholic Church in Houston. All three are buried in Houston’s Glenwood Cemetery. Miller was survived by his elder son, Gray, who in 2006 became a U.S. district judge in Houston.

Houston Chronicle, September 27, 30, 2008. “Houston news pioneer Ray Miller dies,” ABC13 Eyewitness News (https://abc13.com/archive/6386565/), accessed April 16, 2020.

Categories:

  • Journalism
  • Radio and Television
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Literature
  • Historians
  • Nonfiction
  • Memoirs, Diaries, Letters, and Travel
  • Military
  • World War II

Time Periods:

  • Texas Post World War II
  • Great Depression
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • World War II
  • Texas in the 21st Century

Places:

  • Houston
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Fort Worth
  • North Texas
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

George Slaughter, “Miller, Ray Elvin,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed November 28, 2020, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/miller-ray-elvin.

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