In Long Beach, the Miller name is synonymous with philanthropy. But, aside from the unmistakable Miller Children’s Hospital at Long Beach Memorial, you probably don’t realize the extent of Earl and Loraine Miller’s generosity in supporting organizations that further health, education and the arts for youth in the Long Beach community. It’s a legacy that dates back to the early 20th Century.
Earl B. Miller was a successful asphalt and paving contractor in Southern California. Along with his partner George W. Sully, they formed Sully-Miller Contracting Co. and went on to enable the significant growth and expansion of Southern California through its highways, roads and transportation corridors. In fact, if you have a sidewalk in front of your Long Beach residence, odds are Sully-Miller laid it.
Ruth Loraine Huntington was the daughter of Long Beach banker Charles E. Huntington and his wife Dora. She married Earl Miller in 1918 and they settled in Long Beach. The Millers had no children of their own, but they felt very strongly that they could help and support the children of Long Beach. Together they formed the Earl B. and Loraine H. Miller Foundation with the mission of supporting organizations in Long Beach that focus on improving the health and well being of children in need.
Miller Children’s Hospital
2801 Atlantic Ave, Long Beach, CA 90806
In the 1960’s, hospitals with specialized pediatric units were uncommon. Children in California under the age of 13 weren’t even allowed to go into a hospital to visit an ill parent or sibling. And no family members were permitted at all in a hospital’s nursery.
But, Long Beach’s first pediatric cardiologist Dr. Harry Orme was about to change all that. He had heard of a new approach to hospital care that was gaining popularity called “patient and family centered care.” He fell in love with the concept and knew that having a supportive family around a patient during recovery improved their pace of healing. He began to work towards the establishment of a children’s hospital in Long Beach centered on the patient and family care approach. To help fund the construction, Dr. Orme turned to local Long Beach contractor Earl B. Miller, and his wife Loraine, for help. After a generous donation from Earl and Loraine, development of the new children’s hospital began. The Miller’s donation encouraged other significant donations, and by the time the hospital opened, it was completely paid for.
Today, Miller Children’s Hospital is a world-renowned center that provides instruction, research and comprehensive pediatric care to children in need around Long Beach and around the world.
Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden
Long Beach State University (LBSU)
After Earl’s passing, Loraine wanted to create a place that would highlight the passion that they both shared for the outdoors, gardening in particular, and provide a place for the community to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Her plan: A hybrid Japanese garden that combines typical elements of Japanese-style garden design within the context of its Southern California location.
Of the garden she said, “I have a dream for this garden. When a person is tired, or anxious, or in a quest of beauty, may they enter and come forth refreshed to meet the problems of the day.”
When plans fell through on a different location in the city, LBSU jumped at the chance to place the Japanese garden on campus. They felt this would be a great educational resource for the campus and community, further advancing the University’s ongoing commitment to international education and student engagement.
The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden opened in the spring of 1981 and hosts thousands of children each year through its educational program, as well as providing a venue for weddings and social events.
The Miller House
A lesser-known contribution by the Millers to the University is The Miller House in Park Estates. When Loraine Miller Collins passed away in 1991, she left her three-bedroom, four-bathroom home to the University for use as the college president’s residence. Many universities throughout the CSU system provide a campus-sponsored residence for their president to live in during his or her tenure.
Built in 1964, the 5,150 square foot home serves not only as President Jane Close Conoley’s residence, but also as an event venue for University functions. President Conoley’s event planner says they host at least one event a month at the Miller House, which can range from a reception for the President’s Scholars and their families, to meetings of the CSU presidents, to luncheons honoring faculty and staff.
Since 2000, the Miller Foundation has committed over $30 million to organizations that grow and advance the youth in Long Beach. And they aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. So don’t be surprised if you see the Miller name placed on many more Long Beach landmarks. Their legacy – and namesake – has made a profound difference on LBSU and the city as a whole. •908•