Mary Ellen Miller, a revered Republican elder stateswoman who rose through party-activist ranks to twice chair the party in Miami-Dade County, died Wednesday at her Venetian Island home.
She was a dignified, private person who declined to discuss her illness, which took even close friends by surprise, according to Liliana Ros, a longtime GOP committeewoman and friend.
Often compared to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Miller advised Republican governors, local officials, members of Congress and the Florida Legislature.
She was known for being as discreet as she was connected. It’s said that she never spoke ill of anyone, even Democrats.
“Even after she retired, we still went to her,’’ Ros said. “She knew everything: state laws, party laws. She was very gentle, sweet. She had no ego, and that in politics that is very unusual. … She would get upset if you praised her.’’
Over the years, Miller supported Sen. Marco Rubio, former U.S. Rep. David Rivera, both Bush presidents, and former Gov. Jeb Bush, among others.
“Mary Ellen was a great Republican and an even finer person,’’ Jeb Bush, who’d been the county’s party chairman in the 1980s, wrote in an email. “No one worked harder. No one was more committed. You could count on Mary Ellen Miller, and everyone did.’’