Biography of Ray Thomas Miller

Raymond Thomas Miller (1893-1966) was a prominent lawyer, businessman, and Democratic political leader in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, for over thirty years. A native of Defiance, Ohio, he was one of eight children born to Martin E. and Anne Riley Miller. He attended parochial and public schools in Defiance and continued his education at the University of Notre Dame. He attended Notre Dame for three years and received his law degree in 1914. Miller then moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he began the practice of law.

Soon after his arrival in Cleveland, Miller joined the Ohio National Guard and in 1916 was called to active duty on the Mexican border. When World War I began he was commissioned and served in France with the 135th Machine Gun Battalion, 37th Division. After the war he returned to Cleveland and resumed the practice of law. His first taste of public life came as assistant law director for the City of Cleveland from 1922-1923. In 1924 and 1926 he ran unsuccessfully for city prosecutor against the incumbent Edward C. Stanton. In 1928, Miller was elected city prosecutor despite the Hoover landslide of that year. Shortly after he assumed office, several scandals rocked the city administration. Through Miller's efforts, councilman Liston G. Schooley was convicted for peculation.

Miller joined opponents of the city manager plan and in 1932 he became Cleveland's first elected Mayor in eight years, defeating Daniel E. Morgan. During his two year term, Miller drastically reduced expenditures to cope with the effects of the Great Depression. After serving one term, Miller was defeated in 1933 when Martin L. Sweeney formed a rival faction and split the Democratic ranks. In the 1935 mayoralty race, Harold H. Burton defeated Miller, who then retired from politics for a short time.

The most successful part of Miller's career began in 1938 when a toss of the coin broke a tie election and he became a Democratic precinct committeeman. He soon became embroiled in a power struggle with W. Burr Gongwer which culminated in Miller's ascending to the chairmanship of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party in 1938. Lawsuits and counter-suits followed for two years until the state central committee declared Miller the official chairman in Cuyahoga County in 1940. He held this post until 1964. During these years, Cuyahoga County became a Democratic stronghold. The Democratic Party, under Miller's leadership, attracted the African American vote and aligned it with the vote of nationality groups in Cleveland. As a result, Franklin Roosevelt carried Cuyahoga County by a greater margin in 1940 than in 1936. In 1948 Miller ran for governor of Ohio but was defeated in the primary by Frank J. Lausche. In 1950 he was a member of the Cuyahoga County Charter Commission. By 1960, Miller was influential to the extent that the Democratic Steer Roast of that year gave the initial impetus to John F. Kennedy's successful bid for the Presidency. He supported Adlai E. Stevenson for President in 1952 and 1956.

While leading the Democratic Party in Cleveland, Miller also established a successful law practice and business career. From 1941 to 1951 he was the law partner of Donald C. Hornbeck, a prominent Republican. He then formed his own law firm. The Cleveland-based Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and the Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen were two of his most important clients.

In the business world he was active in the formation of the Cleveland Browns and was a partner of Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Smith. He also organized radio station WERE and was part owner of the Cleveland Indians.

Miller played football at the University of Notre Dame as did several other members of his family. He helped organize the Notre Dame Club of Cleveland in 1919 and served as its president until 1928. He remained interested in the school throughout his life and was a close friend of Dean Clarence Manion. He was Cleveland's Catholic Man of the Year in 1947 and Notre Dame's Man of the Year in 1959. Miller was active in the Knights of Columbus, Catholic Charities, and St. Ann's Hospital. He died on July 13, 1966 and was survived by his wife Ruth Hamilton Miller (died 1969) and six children: Mrs. Ruth Gavin, Mrs. Roseanne Perm, Richard, Robert, Riley, and Ray T. Miller, Jr.

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