Clarence E. Miller, Ohio congressman, dies at 93

Former congressman Clarence E. Miller, a 13-term Ohio Republican nicknamed “Five Percent Clarence” for his persistent efforts to cut spending bills by that amount, died Aug. 2 at a hospital in Lancaster, Ohio. He was 93 and had complications from pneumonia.

Mr. Miller was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1966 to represent a hilly swath of southeastern Ohio where, in Lancaster, he had served as mayor.

By training, he was an engineer, and the Almanac of American Politics wrote that Mr. Miller approached politics with the “precise and orderly manner” that one might expect from someone of his profession.

Mr. Miller did not cultivate publicity, preferring instead to focus on legislation more than on the Washington talk-show circuit. He was known for his near-perfect attendance on votes no matter how minute.

In 1990, the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call named Mr. Miller the “most obscure” member of Congress. It was intended as a compliment, considering that grandstanders never would have received such an honor.


Rep.-elect Clarence Miller (R-Ohio), and his wife, Helen, met with the then-House Republican leader Gerald R. Ford in Washington in December 1966. (UPI)

A fiscal conservative, Mr. Miller served on the House Appropriations Committee. The numerous bills he introduced, often unsuccessfully, aimed to cut spending measures — if not by the 5 percent figure in his nickname, then at least by 2 percent. In 1977, he succeeded in persuading House colleagues to cut foreign aid by 5 percent.

Mr. Miller lost his bid for reelection in the 1992 primary after redistricting.

Clarence Ellsworth Miller Jr. was born Nov. 1, 1917, in Lancaster, one of six children and the son of an electrician.

After graduating from high school, he enrolled in correspondence school and became a certified electrical engineer. He worked for Columbia Gas and held several patents related to the pumping of gas, his family said.

Helen Brown, his wife of 51 years, died in 1987. His second marriage, to Linda Roderick, ended in divorce.

Survivors include two children from his first marriage, Ronald K. Miller of Lancaster and Jacqueline M. Williams of Cincinnati; five grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

During the Persian Gulf War, Mr. Miller was reportedly the only member of Congress who had a grandson fighting in that conflict.

Emily Langer is a reporter on The Washington Post’s obituaries desk. She has written about national and world leaders, celebrated figures in science and the arts, and heroes from all walks of life.