Lee Ann Miller, a long-time Historic Northeast resident, leader and advocate, passed away June 29 at the age of 60.
Miller was born June 27, 1959, in Indianapolis, Indiana. After graduating from Hickman Mills High School, she attended Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.
Miller served in the U.S. Air Force Reserve from 1980 until her retirement in 2002.
She served as a board member of the Indian Mound Neighborhood Association from 1990 to 2008, was a past member of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and St. James Anglican Church and joined the Ordinance of the Chair of St. Peter of the Catholic Church in 2010.
Miller was well-known in the Northeast for her commitment to improving the community. Many long-time colleagues and friends described her as being a true advocate for the betterment of the Historic Northeast.
Kansas City Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wagner said he met Miller when he attended his first Indian Mound Neighborhood Association meeting in 2003 when she was president.
Wagner said he credits Miller for prompting his initial neighborhood engagement.
“She was one who was very encouraging as far as getting involved,” Wagner said. “She encouraged me to get involved as treasurer, which I did. She was always very open and encouraging for people to participate, partly because she was doing so much, she was hoping to share the load.”
One of her greatest impacts, Wagner said, was her commitment to and involvement in her neighborhood—and bringing others alongside her.
“She encouraged people to learn what was going on around them and get involved in those things and learn about those things,” Wagner said. “Her biggest impact was in engaging with people and caring about what was going on in the neighborhood. She was very much about engagement and getting people involved and getting the City involved. That is the foundation the neighborhood started from, and now you see what Indian Mound is doing today.
Wagner said he hopes residents continue to follow her example of neighborhood leadership.
“She served the country for several year,s and she took that same service to country and brought it to the neighborhood,” Wagner said. “Lee Ann felt like she had something to give to her neighborhood and she was willing to fight to make it better, and she did that. It’s a reminder that that’s a role that everyone can play. She stepped forward and others followed and continue to follow her lead.”
Mike Spady, economic development ambassador at the Independence Avenue Community Improvement District, echoed the sentiment of Miller’s strong advocacy for the Historic Northeast.
“She made a very positive impact on her community,” Spady said. “She cared about her neighborhood, she cared about her neighbors that lived around her and was passionate about the Northeast in general. She wanted to see it improve, wanted to make sure her neighborhood got the resources available, and she advocated at City Hall many times for different neighborhood projects.”
Spady recalls one distinct moment when he offered Miller a ride to City Hall to testify about a neighborhood project.
“She didn’t support the project,” Spady said. “I took her down there and testified the other way, saying I did support it. It was all cordial and professional and we joked about it on the way down and way back. She didn’t take it personally if someone didn’t approve the ways she did.”
Ultimately, Spady said the Northeast would not be what it is today without her.
“A lot of what is going on here today is the result of her work,” he said. “Without her involvement 15 to 20 years ago, a lot of what is going on today wouldn’t be going on. She was a very strong advocate for the area.”
In April 2000, Lee Ann Miller was one of eight recipients for the first-annual Northeast Community Betterment Awards.
The column dedicated to Miller reads:
“Lee Ann Miller was selected by her neighbors as the single person who has contributed the most to the Indian Mound Neighborhood. The association president says that her involvement with the neighborhood was a “total accident” that started when she became involved working with the Board of Zoning Adjustment to get rid of slum lords and improve commercial properties. Miller is known for her tenacity when it concerns getting the facts about what’s going on in her neighborhood. Her vigilance has put her in a position to win almost all of the cases she takes before BZA. with her involvement with BZA, it’s no surprise that her favorite accomplishment was convincing the city to conduct a systematic inspection of all the properties in her neighborhood. Through this effort, she says that Indian Mound is filled with nicer homes, and bad tenants and bad landlords have been forced out. Increasing accessibility to neighborhood meetings is another of her accomplishments. By scheduling daytime meetings at the North-East library, Miller has made it possible for those who either work or refuse to leave their homes at night to give their input on their neighborhood. Miller says that the people are her favorite part of living in Historic Northeast, and helping her neighbors is her favorite thing to do.”
Miller is preceded in death by her parents: her son, Andrew Raphael Miller and three unborn children: Dustan Godrie, Innocence Presence and Bede Radiance.
She is survived by her husband, John Douglas Miller; daughters Veronica Lee Stockemer and her husband Shawn, Victoria Elizabeth Miller, and Valleri Juliana Miller.
She is also survived by her brother, Randolph Neil Hamilton, his wife Angie, and their son Neil Thomas Hamilton; stepdaughter, Melinda Margaret (Miller) Trusty, her husband Tarrance and their three children Kourtney Bree Trusty, Ariston Levi Trusty, and Sophie Aleisha Trusty, and stepson Paul Douglas Miller.