SOCCD former warehouse director dies

Steve and Sophie Miller (courtesy of the Miller family)

David Bro, Content Editor

DANA POINT, CA.— Steve Miller (1950-2009), 58, a resident of San Clemente and former director of Saddleback College’s South Orange County Community College District’s Warehouse, passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday afternoon. Miller suffered from a massive heart attack, according to close family friend and Saddleback Director of Fiscal Services, Carol Hilton.  Miller collapsed at his desk at Lemest Yacht Sales in Dana Point, and could not be revived by office associates or paramedics.

“Steve was an ‘action man,’ [who] enjoyed many sports and was in training for a bicycle ride planned in May from the Canadian Border to the Mexican Border, but the most impressive thing about Steve was his loving, caring side. He loved animals, and recently nursed a one-legged wild bird back to health. But most of all he loved his family, and his love for and dedication to [his wife] Sophie was very special,” said Hilton.

Miller leaves behind his wife of 35 years, Sophie, and two children, Adam and Melody, both of who attended Saddleback College.  Adam Miller will be graduating Thursday from Saddleback’s Paramedic program, the last class taught by Saddleback faculty member Howard Adams, who also recently passed away. Sophie Miller works in the office of Saddleback College President Todd Burnett, where the couple is well-known due to their long-standing and dedicated relationship with the college.

Sophie Miller met Miller at the beach when she was 15, and they got married two years later.  Miller began a second career after Saddleback, becoming a highly successful yacht broker at a division of Pacific Asian Enterprises Nordhaven, Lemest Yacht Sales, where he had worked for the last nine years at the firm’s Dana Point Harbor office. 

Miller was a passionate sportsman and participated in not only cycling but also surfing, sailing, motorcycling and judo. Miller and his wife, Sophie, had recently returned from a two week trip to China, and Miller was planning and preparing for an upcoming cycling trip from the Canadian to the Mexican border.

Long-time friend Ron Strickland, of San Clemente, who had planned on accompanying Miller on his ride from Canada to Mexico, described Miller as “unique.”

“It would be hard to put Steve into one sentence,” said Strickland. “Maybe if you gave me a half an hour over a beer I could start…Miller was intense, I am going to miss him.”

Pacific Asian’s president Dan Streech stated that the outpouring of support for Miller has been indescribable.

“Steve was beloved by all…he was unique and not bound by the rules by which others lived…Steve was a character,” Streech said. “I feel for Sophie. We will miss him.”

The offices of Pacific Asian Nordhaven shared a string of morning of emails today, at once lamenting Miller’s passing and looking at the brighter side of having known and worked with him.

Adam Cultraro wrote:
“I don’t believe I’ve ever met a person that had such a bright outlook on life. He would notice things that were oblivious to me. You’d ask him “How’s it going” first thing in the morning, not really expecting anything but a standard “OK,” and he would respond with something like “What a beautiful day! You can see the top of Saddleback over there; the clouds are puffy, and the surf looks beautiful by the tracks in San Clemente.”

Jeff Leishman wrote:
“The first time I met Steve was back in the early eighties when we raced bicycles against each other. Steve was always the guy to beat but I could never catch him.”

 Ray Danet wrote:
“I’ve known Steve since my first day working at PAE. He was a true friend and he never shied away from giving me or anyone a helping hand…When the Universe made Steve, it threw away the mold. There will never be another person like him. I can say Steve was a true friend and I will miss him.” 

Immediate plans for services are not known at this time, and will be posted on the Internet by the Lariat News as information becomes available.