OBITUARY

Kenneth Earl Miller

August 2, 1952August 17, 2021

In Loving Memory of Mr. Kenneth E. Miller

Patriot, father, gentleman, trusted friend, and beloved mentor, Mr. Kenneth E. Miller’s legacy of generosity, gratitude, kindness, and sage advice, did not come to an end with his death. Mr. Miller passed away on August 17, 2021, at the age of 69 in Arlington, Virginia surrounded by loved ones who will continue to honor his memory by striving “to do what is right…always”, simply because it is the right thing to do.

Ken, a native of Columbus, Mississippi, entered Mississippi State University (MSU) at the age of 15 - the first member of his family to attend college and a member of the first group of African Americans admitted to MSU. He became the second African American to graduate from MSU’s Aerospace Engineering program. He later received his Master of Science in Systems Management from the University of Southern California.

Ken served his country with over thirty years of civilian service to the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force and retired as one of the highest-ranking civilians in the Defense Department. He was appointed to the Senior Executive Service in 1992 as the Deputy Program Executive Officer (Tactical Aircraft Programs), responsible for managing the Navy’s tactical aircraft, weapons, and systems programs. He served as NAVAIR’s Assistant Commander for Corporate Operations, where his responsibilities included coordinating and implementing Base Realignments and Closures and the relocation of NAVAIRHQ out of the National Capital area. Ken was then assigned to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations where he served as Principal Assistant to the Director of Air Warfare and later as Assistant Deputy, Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Requirements and Programs. His final government service position was as Special Assistant for Acquisition, Governance and Transparency, to the Secretary of the Air Force. He exemplified honor, courage, and commitment in every interaction.

Ken then founded KEM and Associates and became a recognized strategist and trusted advisor to a broad range of national and international defense, security, and aerospace firms. Ken’s intellect, leadership, and anchoring quiet demeanor allowed him to work across boundaries to achieve solutions to difficult and complex issues - being the patient calm in every storm. Ken was the recipient of the Meritorious Executive Presidential Rank Award (1996 & 2001) and Nathaniel Stinson Award. He was also honored as an MSU Bagley College of Engineering Distinguished Fellow. Throughout his career, he earned the respect and admiration of peers, colleagues, and leadership in both government and industry.

Ken always enjoyed sharing a compelling business or personal story, graciously elevating his friends and family over gourmet meals and fine wines, and sometimes capped off with an exquisite cigar. His passions also extended to majestic orchids, unique fountain pens, elegant time pieces, signature cufflinks, playing chess, and cheering on his beloved MSU Bulldogs.

Ken is survived by his son, Kenneth Miller Jr., son, Kevin Miller and his wife Victoria Miller, his siblings, Oliver Miller and his wife Lucy Miller, Irma Dickerson and her husband Sellus Dickerson, Meller Verdell and her husband Willie Verdell, and numerous nieces and nephews.

The family will receive friends from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM and 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM Monday, August 30, 2021, at National Funeral Home located at 7482 Lee Highway, Falls Church, VA 22042. Private services will be held at the National Funeral Home and live streamed at 11:00 AM Wednesday, September 1, 2021. The private burial will be at National Memorial Park.

Please join his family in remembering Ken’s legacy of mentorship, generosity, and gratitude and his unwavering commitment to supporting the future MSU black engineering leaders with a memorial donation to the MSU Kenneth E. Miller Excellence Endowment at https://bit.ly/3B59OyP

Services

  • Visitation

    Monday, August 30, 2021

  • Visitation

    Monday, August 30, 2021

  • Funeral Service

    Wednesday, September 1, 2021

    VIEW VIDEO

  • Committal Service

    Wednesday, September 1, 2021

    VIEW VIDEO

Memories

Kenneth Earl Miller

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John Mishler

September 1, 2021

I worked for Ken at NAVAIR in Washington and he was instrumental in furthering my career. I will always be grateful for his support. May he rest in peace and may God comfort his family and friends sure in the knowledge that even and especially in these times of grief and loss, you are not alone!

James Bennett

September 1, 2021

I knew Ken from his work with Raytheon Company. We worked closely for over six years on very important programs including the Air and Missile Defense Radar program. I have never met a man I respect more than Ken, not only for his intelligence, knowledge and experience but also for his integrity, his superb communications skills and for his willingness to mentor and pass on his extraordinary knowledge to others. I regret deeply that I did not get a chance to see Ken before he died. I would love to have been able to share memories, here his laughter and see the bright light in his eyes. I will miss him. My sincere condolences to his wife, family and friends. His legacy will live on.

Shirley Moore

September 1, 2021

Kenneth I love you . Shirley ,sons,and six grandchildren. The joy of knowing you in my childhood was wonderful. And you was a beautiful Soul ❤️. The girl at 1018 South 4th Street... Shirley and my grandma Augusta'. Skyward Brother.

Dora Thorne

August 31, 2021

My first encounter with Ken, was on a visit to see my friend CC. He was all things many have stated, but when an individual has a ‘presence’, qualities so intrinsic they encompass all that is good, respectful and kind, it is easy to see why Ken receives such accolades. I witnessed first-hand his hospitality and extended friendship during my brief holiday. Smiles all round will be my memory of Ken. May you rest in peace.
Dora

John Young

August 30, 2021

My sadness at the loss of Ken is incredibly overwhelming and indescribable.
Ken and I have worked together for over 20 years and our consulting firms joined forces numerous times with many large and small companies both domestic and international. But my sadness comes from our friendship. We shared many dinners, great wine and exquisite cigars together. I always enjoyed hearing about how many steps Ken took that day. His intellect was always appreciated and admired but his greatest attribute was his kind heart.
He was truly a national treasure and his memory will live on in all of us. Fair winds my friend and I look forward to when we meet again and share another glass of wine together. God bless you and your family.

Tom Hone

August 29, 2021

Ken was an extraordinary human being. I worked for him when I was in the Naval Air Systems Command years ago, and I prized his leadership, his sterling common sense, and his thoughtfulness. I had sort of lost touch with him since he and I retired, and I'm sorry that happened. I had hoped to talk with him sometime, and now---sadly---I won't be able to. He was such a grand boss.
Tom Hone

ROBERT BARNES

August 28, 2021

My friend Ken Miller learned to “figure it out”.
His service, leadership, mentorship, to our country are incalculable. His legacy will echo throughout Mississippi State Family’s and beyond. Oh! the stories I could tell these but a few:
As a 15-year-old, his initial nickname was "Young Ken”.
Some friends reminded me that Ken was the King of the Slide Rule. He said he would carry it like a gunslinger. (Young friends, Google Slide rule)
Dr. Murphree posted recently of Ken "My son was 7 or 8, I recently asked him if he remembered Kenny Miller and he replied: "Sure. He is the one who always talked to me like I was a real person, rather than just a bratty kid! Ken Miller was a REAL person-to him and me and, to everyone you met him.”
Civil Rights leader Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer spoke twice at MSU. After her speeches, she stayed on campus. Ken Miller was one of the security guards. That was the REAL Ken Miller.
Once we bet Ken that he could not eat 10 ham & cheese sandwiches in 30 minutes. He ate them under that time and drink some water.
We viewed the Super Bowls with Dr. Murphree (The First Super Bowl party🍗🍔).We still call Wallace on Super Bowl Sunday. We spoke again Super Bowl LV.
As a young engineer, Ken worked on airplane that could take off and land vertically. He simply said, "we can figure it out."
In Germany Ken had a temporary assignment on the North Sea. In pre-email and cellphone GPS days, we still connected. He managed to visit, over 400 miles away. Ken spoke nor read German he just "figured it out".
Only a few examples of how Ken “figured out". His vision in helping to establish the Mississippi State Black Alumni Advisory Council, was for 3 Annual Scholarships and an Endowed Scholarship in 5 years. Ken "figured out" how to obtain a single donation of $25,000 to endow a scholarship < 6 months and fund the Annual Scholarships.
Death is rarely a welcomed visitor. Let’s cling to each other and to his memory. God’s Peace and comfort be with us.

CAROL JACKSON

August 28, 2021

I worked for Mr. Miller at the Pentagon at that time I was his senior executive assistant. I was the first on his team so I got to work with him one on one for awhile. I learned so much he was such a kind man. He'd take us to lunches and tell us about career choices and life challenges it was always a learning experience but he truly cared about the people who worked for him. He'd always ask about my kids and my daughter got to meet him and they talked like he'd known her for year she was on her way to Hampton University and he gave her great advice. I will miss you and I thank you for allowing me to be apart of your life. May God bless his family. He was a warrior to the end. God Speed. CJ

Rowena Sykes-Worshaim

August 27, 2021

Praying for the Miller family. My prayer is that your family will have peace, comfort, and strength during this time of your loss. I grew up with Ken. Ken was a dear neighborhood friend, very smart and a true example of a great leader. His accomplishments were fulfilled. I will always remember him as that person. May he Rest In Peace. Rowena Sykes Worshaim, Columbus Mississippi

John Jackson

August 27, 2021

What a true friend and mentor. I worked directly with Ken at NAVAIRSYSCOM from 1984 to 1987 when I retired from the USN and went to work for The Boeing Company.

Kenny and Kevin, you probably don't remember me, but I was at your home many times.

Even though we only exchanged Christmas cards for the last few years, I loved your Father like a brother and will miss him so!

John Jackson "JJ"

FROM THE FAMILY