Larry Miller. Credit: Simone Miller

Larry Miller passed away on Oct. 20, 2022 in Oakland at the age of 90. Larry was born in 1932 in Los Angeles to Harry and Sidney Miller. He fondly remembered his boyhood spent with his two sisters, Karen and Sandra, in West Los Angeles. Larry learned to surf on a longboard in Hawaii, and soon after, surfed Malibu, Zuma Point, and the beaches south of LA. He also loved body surfing and taught his little sister, Karen, how to do it.

After graduating from University High School in West LA and freshman year at Stanford University, Larry enlisted in the US Navy (1951) and served during the Korean Conflict on the aircraft carriers USS Oriskany and Yorktown. After completing his service, he returned to Los Angeles to finish college and enrolled in UCLA, where he earned his BA, MA, and Ph.D. in American Literature. In 1963, he met Sarah Henslee, and they were married in Los Angeles several months later. Larry then joined the University of Texas faculty (Austin) and taught literature and film. In 1972, he took a break from teaching to write and moved with Sarah to New Mexico, spending the next decade in Santa Fe and Los Alamos, where his daughter Simone was born.

Larry on the USS Oriskany. Courtesy: Family of Larry Miller

During this time, he published eight children’s books, including The Juggler on the Mountaintop, The Enormous Snore and Elm Tree Brown. In 1984, Larry accepted a job at Laguna Blanca School in Santa Barbara, where he became a beloved teacher of literature, film, and several interdisciplinary courses, as well as serving as an advisor on the literary magazine there, until his retirement in 2002. He spoke warmly of his students and colleagues at Laguna Blanca and returned often for visits at the school after he retired.

Larry with his daughter Simone and grandaughter Lily. Credit: Karen Wood

In 2004, he moved to Berkeley, CA to live closer to family. Larry loved his home state of California and many of the wonderful things it had to offer: a gourmet meal and lively conversation in his favorite restaurants; walking across the Golden Gate Bridge or through Golden Gate Park; annual trips to Disneyland with his daughter when she was young; backpacking in the Eastern Sierras with colleagues and students from Laguna Blanca; smelling the roses in the Berkeley Rose Garden with his granddaughter, and visiting LACMA, the de Young, the Legion of Honor and SFMOMA. Larry was a true lover of baseball, especially the Giants, and knew the game and its history well. He also loved and had great memories of early radio. Larry was a voracious reader of both fiction and nonfiction as well as a die-hard film aficionado. A day at the movies with a good meal and conversation afterward at a wonderful restaurant was always a perfect day for Larry.

Larry is survived by his daughter, Simone, son-in-law Tim Frederick, granddaughter Lily Frederick, and his sisters, Karen Miller Wood and Sandra Miller Fels-Barton. He is also survived by his nieces and nephews: David (Ali), and Henry Wood; Betsy Fels; and Theo Fels and family. 

A family memorial will be held for Larry in late November, during which, as Larry wished, his ashes will be scattered in the waters near the Golden Gate Bridge. 

Donations can be made in Larry’s memory to National Public Radio. Larry’s family can be contacted through Simone.

Larry with students and colleagues from Laguna Blanca in Santa Barbara. Courtesy: Family of Larry Miller