William R. Miller IV, 68, founder of a public relations firm and longtime player in city politics who helped shape political campaigns, died Saturday of complications from a stroke.
Mr. Miller, who lived in East Mount Airy, died at Abington Memorial Hospital, said his daughter, Darisha. "I am definitely going to miss him. I'm a daddy's girl."
For several decades, Mr. Miller helped guide the political aspirations of some of the biggest names in city politics and helped elect W. Wilson Goode Jr. as the first black mayor.
"He became the architect of my field operation and my campaign for mayor in 1983 and led us to a historic victory," Goode said. "He was a detailed strategist who did his homework well."
Mayor Kenney said, "Bill was a political fixture. He will be missed and my thoughts are with his friends and family."
Mr. Miller supported Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams in his failed bid for mayor against Kenney. He also worked for Marty Weinberg, the biggest spender in the Democratic primary for mayor in 1999.
"It's a tremendous loss for Philadelphia. He was a real giant when it came to the community and Philadelphia politics," said District Attorney Seth Williams. "I would not be the district attorney if it were not for him."
Mr. Miller's son was behind Seth Williams' campaign for district attorney in 2008, but the father was the "man on the mountain you had to go to talk to," Williams recalled.
"He was just a tremendous role model of what an African American role model should be," Williams said. "When Mr. Miller talked, you wanted to listen."
In 1981, Mr. Miller founded Ross Associates, a public relations and communications firm whose clients included politicians as well as corporations and government agencies, including the Philadelphia School District.
In 2001, his firm landed one of the first contracts with the newly formed School Reform Commission as a communications consultant. Education was his passion, said his daughter, who followed in his footsteps and worked as his publicist for 14 years.
Mr. Miller spent 20 years in city government under several administrations. Under Mayor William J. Green, Mr. Miller established a task force to increase minority hiring in the police department.
A senior consultant to the state Democratic Party, Mr. Miller led the state delegation to the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco in 1984.
He was a founding board member of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Philadelphia and cofounder of the Advisory Commission on African American Affairs under Gov. Robert Casey. He was a former trustee of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
Mr. Miller was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church.
He had gone into "semiretirement" in recent years, but remained very active, his daughter said. "He cared about everybody. He always wanted a better quality of life for Philadelphia."
Born in West Philadelphia, one of five children, Mr. Miller graduated from Overbrook High. After serving in the Air Force, he earned a bachelor's degree from St. Joseph's University and a master's in government administration from the University of Pennsylvania.
Funeral arrangements were pending Saturday.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Miller is survived by his wife of 47 years, Linda; a son, William V; a daughter-in-law; three grandchildren, and two sisters.