Miller legacy lives on in higher education, business

By Michael McFall, Staff Writer

Larry H. Miller was a success by anyone’s count, but up until his death, he was also dedicated to seeing everyone else around him accomplish their dreams as well.

Miller, 64, died Friday in his home from complications with his type-two diabetes. The condition was compounded by a calciphylaxis, a rare and incurable disease that blocks the flow of oxygen, which he was diagnosed with a week ago. He is survived by his wife Gail, their five children and 20 grandchildren.

However, Miller didn’t limit his care and concern to his own kids. Although many people know Miller for his public persona as a business entrepreneur, car dealer, philanthropist and owner of the Utah Jazz, he had a private side that was invested in the well-being and success of individual college students.

“Larry knew every student who benefitted over the years from his scholarships by their first name,” said U President Michael Young in a statement. Whenever students received one of the millionaire’s 300 scholarships, Miller proudly kept track of their individual progress and encouraged them along the way, Young said.

Miller donated $50 million to build Salt Lake Community College and $21 million for an attached police training center to give students an affordable place to grow and succeed. In 2008, SLCC received the largest donations of any community college in the country, in most part because of Miller’s generosity, according to a report by the Council for Aid to Education.

For his public service and encouragement of law enforcement, the U lauded him with an honorary Doctor of Law degree in 1991. It was the degree he was never able to earn in his own scholastic life.

Miller dropped out of college and went to work in construction and automobiles, while maintaining a healthy interest in softball and drag racing. It was that decision that laid the groundwork for the day he would open his own Toyota dealership, an outlet that eventually boomed across four states and become the Larry H. Miller Automotive Group. He made millions of dollars as the tenth largest car dealer in America, according to SellingPower.com, but the entrepreneur wasn’t ready to stop at cars.

Miller went on to buy the Utah Jazz to keep them in Utah, purchased a television station and named it after the team, invested in movie theaters, started a chain of sports memorabilia stores and created the Jordon Commons movie and restaurant complexes, which altogether ensure hundreds of Utahns with jobs.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker said in a statement that his old friend had a signature catchphrase, “Go about doing good until there is too much good in the world.” Millions of Utahns, from Jazz fans who wouldn’t have a team without him to policemen who earned their badge under his name, from working people who can earn a paycheck at one of his companies to the college students who have a chance to earn the degree that he never did, know that the man lived what he preached.

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