“When dad got up there to accept the presentation he said, ‘My first thought was I don’t deserve this.’ And then he said, ‘I guess there’s a lot of people feel that I do, so thank you,’” said Steve Miller. “That was pretty much his speech.”
Miller was born on July 17, 1937, and raised in New Lexington, Ohio. He graduated from Capital Unversity and had a brief stint in the U.S. Army, his family said. Miller moved to Hamilton to work for Ohio Casualty, then started with Cincinnati Financial in 1966.
He and his wife Darlene were married on May 17, 1964, in Hamilton, and have four children, Steve, Scott Miller, Angie Brown and Stephanie Gonya. His family moved to Fairfield in 1970.
Two years after moving to Fairfield, he founded Cincinnati Financial’s investment department to manage its $64 million portfolio.
“He grew that portfolio to more than $10 billion before he retired in 2003,” said Steve Johnston, Cincinnati Financial’s chairman, president and chief executive officer. “Jim took the same relationship-based approach to investing that is a hallmark of our insurance business.”
Cincinnati Financial Vice President Mike Abrams worked for Miller for about 15 years and said that one “never had to guess where you stood with Jim.”
“Jim, the one thing he taught everyone that worked for him, he wanted people that worked hard,” said Abrams. “He definitely led by example.”
Miller took his investing experience to assist the then-upstart Fairfield Community Foundation in 1999, said Betsy Hope, the foundation’s first executive director. Miller was a founding member of the foundation and a former board member, and worked to get the foundation off to a strong start, she said.
“Jim was just a big resource for the foundation,” said Hope, who is now the Oxford Community Foundation executive director. “He was just so committed to establishing a community foundation.”
She said Miller was so gifted at finance that “he could see a situation, and like a knife through butter, looked at it, evaluated it, summed it up and knew what to do very easily.”
He remained involved with the Community Foundation even after he retired and living half-time in Florida, said Fairfield Community Foundation Executive Director Linda Yarger.
“He was always available,” she said.