Miller says ‘goodbye’ to Callinan center post
Long-time city employee has distinction of working under all RP city managers
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By Jud Snyder  July 11, 2014 12:00 am

You can tell Guy Miller’s an athlete. He’s got those neck muscles bringing his head to his shoulders without any indentation for a jaw when you look at him full-face. He got them as a swimmer, specializing in the breaststroke, a tricky way to plough the pool water but it sure builds up neck muscles.

Miller also holds a few swimming records he picked up while on the Santa Rosa Junior College varsity swim team. SRJC got a new pool, and the first thing they did was to start a swim team with Miller aboard. He was living in Santa Rosa at the time, for his father was Gordon Miller, the director of the Sonoma County Water Agency, known to media as the “Water Czar,” as testified by his car license plate – H20CZR.

 

Served all RP city managers

A husky 6-plus footer, Miller probably holds another record: he’s the only RP department head who’s served under all the city managers, from Pete Callinan to Darrin Jenkins with Joe Netter, Carl Leivo, Dan Schwarz and Steve Donley in between. There are probably a few RP City Hall staffers who’ve been with the city just as long, but we haven’t done a survey.

Callinan hired him as the sports center first began construction near the Community Center. 

This was in April 1985. The city council named it the Callinan Sports Center and Jim Pekkain was the recreation director, working out of offices in the Community Center when he retired. Athletic activities like basketball were parceled out wherever possible, like the Burton Avenue Rec Center, Rancho Cotate High School and Sonoma State University. 

Now, Miller has announced his retirement. He reached the big 60 mark last month, and July is his last month in his small office in the sports center. It’s sparsely decorated, dominated by photographs Miller has taken. He’s an accomplished photographer and his limited wall space is dominated by large photos of scenic rocky vistas. 

“These are taken near the Colorado River in northern Arizona,” he said. “My daughter Nicole, she’s 30, and I drove 10 miles down a dirt road then hiked five miles to this remarkable site. 

It was awfully hot, up over a hundred, and you had to bring lots of water for that sort of walk. She’s a faster hiker than I am. My knees aren’t as strong as hers.”

 

Married for 32 years

Miller and his wife, Jean, have been married 32 years and live in Santa Rosa’s east side. Nicole has an MBA degree, a second daughter Katie is 26 and has a BS degree. They have a son, Alec, who’s 20 and undecided on his next career step. Also present in the household is a grandson, 4-year-old Julian, Katie’s child. “It’s fun to have a grandson around,” he said.  

“After SRJC, I got a scholarship from University of Northern Colorado, but I wasn’t very happy there,” he added. “I came back to the coast and enrolled at Sacramento State College, where I made the swim team. I got my degree in Parks and Recreation Administration. Jean was also a swimmer there, but we never got serious about each other. We were competitors.”

Miller and Jean met later on after they graduated, exchanged Sac State memories and the relationship clicked.

These days, Miller doesn’t do much swimming and took up bicycling. “I like to bike along the Joe Rodota Trail from our home out to Sebastopol. I knew Joe from the old days. It’s a good 37-mile round trip,” he said. “I’m on my bike every day. This is an excellent county for bike trips.”

Miller’s chief assistant at the sports center is Nelle Herman. She’s seven months pregnant and will soon take a maternity leave. The city has yet to name a successor for Miller.

 

‘Good crew of lifeguards’

His job at the sports center is wide-ranging, for it includes all the swimming pools, soccer fields plus all the activities inside Callinan SC, such as weight room equipment, squash court, locker facilities and basketball courts. 

“We’ve got a good crew of lifeguards, divided equally between men and women,” Miller said. “It costs about $200 to earn lifeguard certificates. We offered to pay trainees the $200 if they joined our pool lifeguards after they graduated. The system’s worked out very well.”

Miller hasn’t decided exactly what he’ll do after he retires. “I can’t come back here, even part time, CalPers has rules about this. But I’m sure I’ll find something, probably as a fill-in sports and rec supervisor. I know there are opportunities in this direction.”

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