Company Founder Stan Miller Passes Away
Stan Miller Yachts is sad to share the news that company founder Stan Miller has passed away at the age of 91. Mr. Miller passed on Friday, November 17th, in Palm Desert.
Stan’s great loves were sailing, music and his wife, Carolyn, who passed away in 2013. The pair enjoyed a robust retirement, living at times in Astoria, Oregon, and ultimately moving to Palm Desert.
Stan founded Stan Miller Sailboats in 1955, but his love for the water arrived long before then. In the mid-1930s, Stan spent his summers sailing an eight foot dinghy in Newport Harbor. After serving in the U.S. Navy, Stan returned to his love of sailing and became heavily involved with racing, rigging and repairing sailboats.
In 1954, Stan realized he could transform his love for working with sailboats into a full-time business. In 1955, Stan Miller, along with his brother Jim Miller, established Stan Miller Sailboats. Construction began in Seal Beach, where masts, rudders and leeboards were built. This two-level building would later become the Stan Miller Sailboats & Hardware store. Close friend and sail maker Lowell North, who was in the process of developing and growing North Sails, was located upstairs. In 1960, Stan Miller Sailboats became the first tenant in the newly constructed Marina Bazaar in Long Beach’s Alamitos Bay, where the business provided seafaring vessels to sailing enthusiasts and Hollywood celebrities.
Stan's love of sailboat racing continued, and in the early 1970s, Miller and his partners bought a New Zealand-built sailboat RAGTIME. In the following years, Miller would captain RAGTIME to racing victories, with two wins of the Transpacific Yacht Race, racing from Los Angeles, Calif. to Diamond Head Lighthouse in Honolulu, Hawaii. Additional trophies were earned at the Mallory Cup, the California Cup, and other regional sailboat races.
Stan Miller Sailboats continued to flourish and began branching into motoryacht sales, with the company being re-named Stan Miller Yachts to reflect their growing market. In 1976, John Buettner joined Stan Miller Yachts as a Licensed and Bonded broker. He and his brother Brad Buettner had met Stan in 1965, when their family moved to Huntington Beach and purchased their first sailboat from Stan. John remained a broker at Stan Miller Yachts until 1983, at which time he was joined by Brad and the two became partners with Stan Miller until Miller’s retirement in 1989. After his retirement, the Buettners took full control of Stan Miller Yachts and grew the company to be an industry leader for new and brokerage yachts.
Reflecting upon the beginning of their business partnership, Brad Buettner stated, “After graduating from the University of Southern California, Stan and Carolyn Miller asked me if I would join them for lunch at the Long Beach Yacht Club to discuss a business opportunity in the marine industry. It was at this lunch that Stan and Carolyn proposed a partnership at Stan Miller Yachts with John and myself as equal partners with Stan. It was an opportunity to join an industry leader that could not be refused. Over the years, both Stan and Carolyn Miller demonstrated virtues such as kindness, friendship, and enthusiasm for the marine industry that have been instrumental in my development and will have a lifelong impact on me. I will be forever grateful to them for their graciousness and willingness to allow me to be a part of the Stan Miller Yachts legacy.”
Stan is remembered by the entire team at Stan Miller Yachts, his family, friends and the sailing and boating communities of Long Beach, Calif. and Astoria, Ore., as well as the many lives he touched.
Brad Buettner and Stan Miller meet with representatives of Coast Bank at the Stan Miller Yachts showroom, 1987. Pictured, Left to Right: Brad Buettner, James Lynch, Jim Wulschleger, Stan Miller