John Miller was a yachtsman’s yachtsman.
Edward (John) Miller died in his home in Palm Desert with his daughter, Cathy Miller Satariano, at his bedside. He would have been 94 next month and had been battling a number of medical issues over the last few months.
Private services in Palm Desert are planned for later this month.
Miller was born Oct. 3, 1923, in Jefferson City, Mont. He attended Jefferson City High as a freshman, then transferred to Culver Military Academy for three years and graduated in 1942.
In 1943 he enlisted in the Navy and attended ordinance training in Oklahoma. Then it was on to the V-12 program at University of Texas. He taught pilot survival training at Los Alamitos Naval Air station until his discharge in 1946. He graduated from University of Missouri in 1949, moved to California and worked various jobs.
A lifetime member of Long Beach Yacht Club, Miller joined in 1959, before the Appian Way clubhouse celebrated its groundbreaking. He was past chairman of the Naples Boat Parade and served as Naples Improvement Association president in 1986.
He opened the first marine hardware store in Naples. He grew to a larger store, Captain’s Locker, where the Crab Pot is now.
Miller’s business grew steadily. The Captain’s Locker moved to the space that is now home to West Marine, and Miller opened another store in Marina Del Rey. The company merged with Newport Supply Company and continued to grow. Eventually, the company was bought by aGulf and Western Industries.
Miller’s first boat was a 9-foot rowboat that his dad put together in the basement.
In his Seal Beach backyard, he built a 36-foot sport-fishing cruiser from a shell he purchased at Cruise On in Surfside. After two and a half years, his cruiser was ready to launch. He knocked down a 30-foot block-wall fence in order to move the boat to the water.
The family enjoyed the boat and cruising the local waters, but they longed for something bigger. Through research, Miller learned that Ferro-cement boats, if built properly, are stronger than wood or fiberglass and require less maintenance than a steel boat.
In 1975, the keel of the 62-foot Maui Diamond was laid. Miller secured a five-year lease on a vacant lot at Pacific Coast Highway and Loynes. For the next five years, he worked on the Maui Diamond and sold yachts from the onsite sales office he created for Coast Yacht.
This summer, Miller donated the yacht to the Long Beach Sea Scouts. A special fund to help the scouts maintain the boat has been established in Miller's honor. To donate, go to http://longbeachbsa.org/seascouts.