Zell Bryan Miller was born on February 24, 1932 in Young Harris, Georgia.
His father, Stephen Grady Miller, died when the infant Miller was seventeen days old; his widowed mother, Birdie, raised her son alone. Miller’s mother built a home for herself and her children with rocks that she hauled out of a nearby stream.
Miller graduated from Young Harris College in 1951.
In 1954, Zell Miller married Shirley Carver.
Miller served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1953-1956. From then on he would attribute his successes to both the discipline he learned as a marine and the independence he learned from his mother.
Miller graduated from the University of Georgia in 1957 and earned his Masters’ degree from UGA in 1958. After graduation, Miller worked as a professor of political science and history at Young Harris College.
Miller was elected Mayor of Young Harris in 1959.
Miller went on to serve as a Georgia State Senator from 1961-1964.
Miller was a member of the state Board of Pardons and Paroles from 1973-1975.
Miller was Lieutenant Governor of Georgia from 1975-1991. Miller is currently the longest serving Lieutenant Governor in Georgia history, having served for 16 years.
Miller was inaugurated as the 79th Governor of Georgia on January 14, 1991.
Miller delivered his first State of the State Address on January 16, 1991.
Miller keynoted the Democratic National Convention on July 13, 1992 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
In 1992, voters passed a constitutional amendment creating the Georgia Lottery Corporation.
On June 29, 1993, the first Georgia Lottery ticket was sold to Governor Miller.
In 1992, Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally (HOPE) is created.
In 1993, Georgia launched the nation’s first ever Pre-Kindergarten Program.
Miller was inaugurated for a second term on January 9, 1995.
Miller welcomes the Olympic Torch arrival in Savannah, Georgia on July 9, 1996.
Miller delivered his final State of the State Address on January 15, 1998.
In 1998, Georgia ranks No. 1 among 50 states in academic-based student financial aid due to HOPE.
Miller left office in January 1999 with an 85 percent approval rating, a record high for a Georgia governor. This made Miller the most popular governor in the nation.
From 1999-2000, Miller held teaching positions at Young Harris College, Emory University, and the University of Georgia.
On July 24, 2000, Governor Roy Barnes appointed Miller to the U.S. Senate, filling the vacancy caused by the death of U.S. Sen. Paul Coverdell.
Miller was sworn in as a U.S. Senator on July 27, 2000. He was elected in a November 2000 special election for the remainder of the term.
On September 1, 2004, Miller delivered the keynote at the Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
On January 4, 2005, Miller gave his farewell speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
In 2008, the Zell B. Miller Learning Center at the University of Georgia was dedicated in his honor.
In 2011, The Zell Miller Scholarship is created by the Georgia legislature.
In 2014, the Zell and Shirley Miller Library at Young Harris College was dedicated in the couple’s honor.
In 2016, the Miller Institute was created to preserve, promote, and continue the Miller legacy.
Today, Zell and Shirley Miller continue to reside in Young Harris. They live in the same rock house Birdie Miller built in the early 1930s.
Zell Bryan Miller passed away peacefully on March 23, 2018 at the age of 86.
Zell Miller was born on February 24, 1932 in Young Harris, Georgia to Stephen Grady Miller and Birdie Bryan Miller. Zell’s father died when he was seventeen days old and his widowed mother raised Zell and his older sister, Jane, in a house she built herself with rocks that she hauled out of a nearby stream.
Zell grew up in Young Harris and graduated from Young Harris College in 1951 before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served from 1953-1956, obtaining the rank of Sergeant. He credited his success in life to both the discipline his learned in the Marine Corps and the perseverance he learned from his mother.
Zell married Shirley Carver on January 14, 1954. They were married for 64 years and together they had two sons. He graduated from the University of Georgia with a Master’s degree in history in 1958. After graduation, he returned to Young Harris College where he began a long career as an educator.
Zell Miller served as Mayor of Young Harris from 1959-1960. He served as a Georgia State Senator from 1961-1964. He served as Lieutenant Governor of Georgia for 16 years from 1975-1991. He is currently the longest serving Lieutenant Governor in Georgia history.
Zell Miller served as the 79th Governor of Georgia from 1991-1999. As Governor, he created the HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) Scholarship and Georgia’s Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program. He went on to serve in the U.S. Senate from 2000-2005.
Today, more than 1.8 million students have gone to college in Georgia on HOPE Scholarships and more than 1.6 million four-year olds have begun their education through Georgia’s Pre-K Program. These were his proudest achievements in his 46-year career in public service.
At the time of his passing, he was a lifetime member of the Board of Trustees at Young Harris College and a member of the Board of Trustees at Mercer University.
Zell Miller was preceded in death by his father Stephen Grady Miller, mother Birdie Bryan Miller, and sister Jane Miller Ross. He is survived by his wife, Shirley Carver Miller; sons, Murphy Carver Miller and Matthew Stephen Miller; granddaughter, Asia Miller Bowles; grandsons, Justin Grady Miller, Andrew Stephen Miller, and Bryan William Miller; and eight great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Miller Institute Foundation in memory of Zell Bryan Miller.
Monday, March 26th | Young Harris College
A public Memorial Service was held at Young Harris College in Glenn-McGinnis Hall, located in the Clegg Fine Arts Building.
Tuesday, March 27th | Peachtree Road United Methodist Church
A Celebration of Life Service took place at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church.