Ron Miller – A Visionary Who Saved Natchez
Published 9:00 am Sunday, September 11, 2022
I will never forget Friday, November 27, 2015. Thanksgiving had just concluded, and I was feeling homesick for Natchez. This was before I had actually moved to this beautiful city, although I truly believe my heart had already taken up residence here many years prior. It was a beautiful fall day – the perfect day for a drive down the Trace.
Contemplating where to stay, my mind went immediately to Ron Miller. At the time, I didn’t know Ron and his wife Mimi well. I just remembered their kindness to me during an overnight stay at a cottage they rented back in the early 2000’s. I couldn’t think of a better place to spend a quiet weekend.
When I heard Ron’s chipper voice on the phone, I knew I had made the right call. He seemed to remember me, although at the time I thought he was just being kind. He explained that the cottage was no longer available for rent, but I was welcome to stay in a room that happened to be available in his and Mimi’s B&B, The Wentzel House. In less than five minutes the deal was done, and I was on my way to Natchez.
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Arriving a little past 5, I made my way to the front door of Ron and Mimi’s lovely Victorian home, located in the Historic Garden District just one block from the Mississippi River. Ron graciously greeted me at the door – and there began a wonderful friendship. From that date forward, every weekend through the following Spring, I was the Millers’ constant houseguest, enjoying many late night visits in their parlor and indulging, perhaps a bit too much, in Ron’s delicious homemade blueberry pancakes. I will forever cherish those memories.
Rarely does one have the opportunity to meet a gentleman like Ron Miller. As a person, his kindness and concern for others was evident the moment you met him. As a leader, Ron single handedly brought about a new appreciation for historic preservation in Natchez. It can be said that his vision saved it. As the first Executive Director at the Natchez Historic Foundation, he charted a course that we all now follow. His wife Mimi succeeded him in that office, and together they’ve accomplished so much.
I don’t think Natchez would be the Natchez we know and love if it were not for Ron. When we look around, so many buildings that could have gone the other way are today standing beautiful, having stood the test of time all because of his vision and leadership. I thank God for blessing Natchez with a man like Ron Miller. He truly made a difference in our beautiful city. May we live up to the legacy he now leaves behind. Because Natchez Deserves More.
Dan M. Gibson, Mayor of Natchez