Neville Miller, 83, is communications lawyer who headed the District's urban renewal agency in the 1960s, died Sunday at his Northwest Washington home after a long illness.

An urbane, soft-spoken man whose voice carried the lilt of his native Kentucky, Mr. Miller served over the years in a variety of government assignments - as mayor of Louisville, as deputy chief of United Nations relief in the balkans near the end of World War II, and as chairman of the D.C. Redevelopment Land Agency (RLA) during its peak years of rebuilding Southwest Washington.

Mr. Miller retired in 1971 from the RLA board, on which he had continued to serve after leaving the chairmanship. Two years later he retired as senior partner of Miller, Schroeder and Bankson, a law firm that specializes in representing broadcasters before government agencies.

As chairman of RLA from Sept. 28, 1960, to Sept. 21, 1970 - one week short of 10 years - Mr. Miller shunned the public spotlight but followed the work of the agency closely and consistently asked penetrating questions of its staff officials.

He ran RLA board meetings in a gentle, almost proprietary way, and often enlivened them with quips an anecdotes.

Mr. Miller was not involved in the decision to renew Southwest Washington or in planning the project, but, he was the chief overseer of its reconstruction.

A world traveler, Mr. Miller visited and photographed projects in countless cities, and returned to give slide shows to associates.

Once, after a trip to Scandinavia in 1962, he observed that - for all of its glitter and newness - the Southwest lacked an elusive quality, "flair."

Mr. Miller was especially impressed, he once said, with the ambitious reconstruction of Nagoya. It was a city bombed heavily during World War II, Mr. Miller observed, "so they had all that open space, and no relocation problem" like the one that plagued Washington.

Mr. Miller first came to Washington in 1938 to become president of the National Association of Broadcasters, the principal trade association of the industry.

Shortly before, he had stepped down from a single term as the Democratic mayor of Louisville. He gained national attention in that post in 1937, when the Ohio River spiled over its banks, devastating much of the city. As mayor, Mr. Miller directed the evacuation of 52,000 citizens and the relief efforts.

Born in Louisville to a father who later became chief justice of Kentucky's highest court, Mr. Miller was graduated from Princeton University in 1916 and Harvard Law School in 1920. He then practiced law in Louisville.

He held two academic posts, as dean of the University of Louisville Law School before being elected mayor, and an assistant to the president of Princeton University before coming to Washington for the broadcasting post in 1938.

In 1944 and 1945, Mr. Miller was deputy chief of the Balkan Mission of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.

Before his appointment to the RLA board, Mr. Miller was an active member of the Washington Housing Association, a public-interest group here. Later he was a trustee of the Federal City Council.

A member of several bar association, Mr. Miller was president of the Federal Communications Bar Association in 1949 and 1950. He was an elder of the Georgetown Presbyterian Church and a member of the Chevy Chase Club, the National Press Club and the Ivy Club at Princeton.

Survivors include his wife, Katherine W.; four daughters, Barbara Oeding, of Sydney, Australia; Gale Haydock, of Weston, Mass.; Katherine Shorb, of Washington, and Mary Lawrence, of Ithaca, N.Y., and 14 grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the memorial fund of the Georgetown Presbyterian Church.