Vince Miller, RIP

Eric Garris, June 28, 2008

An old and dear friend of Antiwar.com, Vince Miller, has died.

Vince had been a libertarian activist for over 37 years. He was one of the founders of the Libertarian Party of Canada and was an editor of the early magazine Libertarian Option. In 1980, Vince founded the Libertarian International, to join libertarian organizations from around the world. In 1989, Libertarian International expanded by merging with the Society for Individual Liberty to create the International Society for Individual Liberty (ISIL).

Also in 1989, Vince and ISIL took over the libertarian bookstore in San Francisco which I had opened in 1980. They kept the bookstore open until the property was stolen by the city of San Francisco in 1997. ISIL recently rescued Laissez Faire Books from going under, and has been in the process of revitalizing the book service.

Vince wrote this article on the 25th anniversary of the founding of Libertarian International.

Vince attended the Libertarian Party national convention last month in Denver, and was in fine health. Shortly after the convention he has diagnosed with Valley Fever. The infection moved into his internal organs and he fell into a coma. He died this morning at the age of 70.

Vince was a tireless and under-appreciated activist in the service of peace and liberty. Per his instructions he will be cremated. Vince asked that no formal funeral be held. A celebration of his life will be held at a future date. In lieu of cards or flowers those wishing to honor him are asked to contribute to Vince’s life cause, the International Society for Individual Liberty. The most appropriate way to show appreciation for Vince is to do something for liberty. It was his passion and his great love.

We will miss him.




27 Responses to “Vince Miller, RIP”

  1. Well, crap. Vince has been a stalwart of the libertarian movement for so very long. I am so very grateful for everything he accomplished and how he lived. He will be missed.

  2. I saw Vince briefly at the Convention in Denver. I just made a contribution at the ISIL website. I respect and admire his long and valuable service to liberty.

  3. When he lived in Toronto in the ’70s, Vince was a good friend of mine, who gave me my start in writing. More importantly, he was always a good friend of liberty.

    I would like to write something, and probably will later; but I’m in no shape to do so now, and I would like to acknowledge this event right now. May I please reprint your article, with full credit to you and Antiwar.com, in my column, Mr. Garris?

  4. Tell you what; I want to get this done before I go to bed (it’s just after midnight here), but I don’t expect you to even see it till tomorrow. So I’m gonna go ahead and reprint, and if you object just say so and I’ll delete. Thx.
    I hope you understand where I’m coming from. This is important; Vince was important; and he should be recognized. If ISIL gets some support, so much the better.
    Sorry if that’s a bit incoherent; I’m a bit distraught right now.

  5. Dear George,

    Permission is of course granted. Thank you.

  6. I have many memories of Vince Miller’s sacrifices to bring Libertarian International (former name of ISIL) to life. His vision and passion was to unite libertarians around the world. I owe a lot to Vince for that. He knew I had an international view as well so he invited me, along with Bruce Evoy, for the rough ride of the early years.

    It was a great experience to participate in the formation of LI and working with Vince to organize the early conferences. I’ll never forget our excitement at the success of the first Zurich meeting where I made some of the acquaintances I still have today.

    I wish I had been able to add another memory of Vince by seeing him again this year.

    Vince will be missed.

    Posted from Istanbul (still living in Cyprus).

  7. I am so very sorry to hear of Vince’s death.

    He was indeed devoted to the cause of liberty.

    (I didn’t know that San Fran had taken the store property away. Why? What was their lame excuse?)

    I was privileged to have dinner with Vince at the Convention. Even then I knew it was an honor to have him take precious time and sit down with me one-on-one to answer some questions. The questions centered around starvation in places like South Africa, and how to convince people that government is the problem and not the solution.

    One thing he did was to recommend the video _The Devil’s Footpath_ featuring June Arunga, which I plan to get copies of.

    I am so glad of the opportunity to sit down with Vince. Very down-to-earth guy, almost as though he was unaware of the immense good he has done.

    I know he will be missed.

    Alice

  8. Vince will be missed so much and I wished I had stayed more in contact. I met him and his close friend and fellow freedom fighter Bruce Evoy back in 1980 at the Denver Libertarian convention. We all became steadfast friends sharing both our love for liberty and our love for our fellow man. ;-)
    I was able to say goodbye to Bruce Evoy before his passing and I am so very sad I was not able to say goodbye to a truly good friend and a stalwart defender of liberty. Vince was bar-none a Patriot of the Nth order, he will be hard to replaced as he has left a big hole in all our lives and the world-wide libertarian movement will never be the same.

    We will miss you so much, our dear friend!
    In Friendship and Liberty, Bon Voyage my dear Friend……

    Lub you!
    Ron & Gordon

  9. It is almost unimaginable to picture the libertarian movement without Vince in it. I didn’t know I was saying goodbye but I’m so glad I has a chance to see him in Denver. It had been a long time. He will be missed by so many people.

    June

  10. Vince was a kind, courteous, decent, hard-working man. He had strong principles, an excellent character, and a keen intellect. I shall miss him.

    As the universe is just, somewhere, somehow, Vince is now living in the free country he searched this world over to find.

  11. I have known Vince for twenty years and know what he sacrificed for the cause of liberty. He once told me he would have been well over a million dollars ahead if he had kept on his career path. Fortunately for our cause, he valued liberty more than comfort.

    Alice Lillie asked how ISIL lost its San Francisco storefront. The location (1800 Market Street) is now the Lesbian Gay Bi-sexual Transgender Community Center which, as I recall, cost five million tax dollars.

  12. This is shocking and sad news. I first met Vince in 1981 when he fled the socialist tyranny of the North in a U-Haul van and got to know him when he lived in Richmond. We had breakfast together just a couple of months ago while he was visiting.

    His hard work, sacrifice and perseverance spread the ideals of liberty throughout the world. He will be sorely missed.

  13. I was able to talk with Vince in Denver last month, and he was in good spirits. We were looking forward to him and Jim Peron moving Laissez Faire Books to Phoenix, where he would have been fondly included in all our local activities. This is so sad. But he lived a good life and achieved already more than I have done for the cause of liberty. Good bye, Vince. You will be long remembered in our lists of those we loved.

  14. Dear Vince,

    I have so many fond memories of you, at ISIL and other events in Europe and North America, your kind support of my modest attempts at organizing freedom-themed conventions in Southern California ’84 – ’94, where we boldly dreamed of solving the world’s problems without violence, dreaming of eventually living in our shared vision of a near utopian “Galt’s Gulch”-like libertarian society while floating in hotel pools and saying “always room for one more” in hotel suite jacuzzis. You are one of the sweetest people in the libertarian universe, always modest, never arrogant, always inquiring, gently persuading “newbies”, never believing you knew it all. Vince, I had made a donation in my trust to the Ludwig Von Mises Institute at the University of Alabama. I am going to write to Lew Rockwell, Jr. and ask him to use the money to create a Vince Miller Scholarship fund so that your name lives on in a way you would approve of: teaching the values of liberty to generations to come. RIP, Vince, you are an original. Your friend, Dagny.

  15. I so appreciate this consideration of Vince Miller and introduction to ISIL, and am so sorry to learn about this loss to humanity. I have never heard of Valley Fever, and plan to find out more about it.

  16. When Vince fled Canada via upstate NY to Richmond it wasn’t in a U-Haul, it was in my long Dodge van. I’ll never forget loading his huge and heavy photo typesetting machine (Vince was a professional publisher in Canada before desktop publishing) in a classic upstate blizzard. He first tried working for Bon Posma at his factory in the countryside near Niagara Falls. I invited him to set up shop and home in my place in Richmond VA after his bitter complaints about his situation in NY state. Vince and I somehow managed to load that machine but we were a lot younger then;-) It was a bit scary driving out of there across a flat windswept, snow covered countryside with the snow still coming down strong.

    We took a lot of road trips in together to libertarian events over the next few years but that first one has to be the most memorable.

    Vince and I shared a crude loft space in downtown Richmond for several years before he and Jim Elwood teamed up to live and work in a much improved environment in the Richmond suburbs. Libertarian International and the first several LI conferences (Zurich, London and Stockholm, and to some extent Brussels and Beitestolen, sp?, Norway) were organized from that loft space.

    Lots of memories, too many to recount, from that time……

    Anyone know of a libertarian in Istanbul? I’m here another 2 days. I used to call Vince before I visited a new foreign place to learn if he knew of local libertarians I could meet. I met many libertarians that way.

    How about Vienna? That’s my next stop before returning home to Cyprus.

  17. [...] Garris writes at antiwar.com blog, In lieu of cards or flowers those wishing to honor him are asked to [...]

  18. Oh wow – Vince has departed :( Valley Fever…go figure, I never heard of it before today. I only hope that he did not suffer. I haven’t been in touch with Vince in years…mostly due to changing priorities in my life rather than by conscious choice. I often think of Vince, and fondly – I have great memories of him.

    Like most people who have posted here, I have always admired Vince for him relentless commitment to the pursuit of freedom and individual liberty in an increasingly statist world. As Mark Pickens pointed out – Vince gave up a promising corporate career to pursue his passion for liberty, I can’t say that I would do that.

    Vince was one of a few very bright lights who were very influential to me in becoming a Libertarian. Soon after I met Vince in the early 90’s, I became a Libertarian and an activist. My activism has since been transformed into to much more of a personal, than a public mission, and I’ll probably always be a Libertarian.

    Though Vince will be mostly remembered for his contributions to the Libertarian movement, I will always remember him most for the kind, generous and lovable human being that he was. Vince carried a rather large pistol (when he could) and had a bit of a gruff exterior at times (especially when it came to statists), but he was a very sweet man.

    Back in those days at Freedom’s Forum, I was part of a rather odd assembly of Libertarians and freedom lovers of various types that would regularly hang out in the bookstore…and Vince was the heart of it all. It was quite the experience!

    Even though he did not have much in the way of material wealth, Vince was always willing to share and help others in need. There were more times than I care to recall back in those days when I needed to borrow a few dollars to tide me over till the next payday…however far off that may have been. Vince had no qualms about helping me out, when he was able to; and outside of timely repayment – I never felt like I owed Vince anything. I also witnessed him helping many others in various ways. He expected people to be responsible – as he was, but nothing more.

    He liked Interacting with and helping people – I came to him for advice on several occasions, and he was always willing to listen and offer suggestions. In many ways I viewed Vince as a father-figure…gentle, yet firm.

    I learned many great lessons from Vince – mainly that if you want the state to go away, you have accept personal responsibility for helping others and making the world a better place. Many Libertarians complain about the system, but few offer solutions or take positive action.

    Vince showed me that the state could gradually be replaced by committed individuals taking up responsibility so there would be no void. Also, that people are more likely to believe in and follow others who are positive and work to make the world a better place by their example…and that’s what Vince did – he cared, was compassionate and involved. It is because of Vince’s example and others like him – Carole Ann Rand, Sharon Harris, June Genis and Dr. Mary Ruwart – that Libertarians actually have a good name. “People have to know that you care, before they care what you know.”, they would say, and they all care.

    Vince would probably smile shyly and be embarrassed by this – he was very humble and didn’t accept praise easily.

    Finally, despite his mostly serious nature, Vince had a great sense of humor – he was a bright, witty and funny guy :) He used to make that quirky Woody Woodpecker laugh – you know, “hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo” – I guess you’d have to be there ;-) There were many nights we went out as a group (after a hard day of freedom fighting) to have pizza and beer, or down to the Mint for some karaoke – and Vince was the life of the party!

    I have heard that there will be a memorial service for Vince in the future…I hope we can go out for pizza and beer or karaoke afterwards…Vince would have wanted that too. And that ISIL is setting up a memorial fund in Vince’s name – to which I will gladly contribute…as a symbol of my esteem for Vince.

    Not sure what else there is to say except that Vince was a truly exceptional individual on many levels, and that he touched my life deeply with his commitment and humanity…and for that I’ll always remember him dearly. Whatever afterlife there may be – it is surely a better place now that he is there – our loss is there gain :o)

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  20. I also am too shocked to do Vince justice right now. I had the good
    fortune to meet Vince in 1972. As we all know, Vince was a special
    person who made a unique contribution to his friends and to liberty.
    The recognition and appreciation being expressed to Vince now would
    have made him very happy. Vince’s role in expanding freedom
    was it’s own reward.

    The world won’t seem quite as good to me now.
    We will miss you a lot, Vince, but we still have a lot
    of happy memories. Thank you. Lub you.

  21. Some memories of Vince, with love. We met in 1972 in Toronto. He was 33, handsome, urbane. He & roomie Wally had invited to their penthouse apartment the entire cast of an amateur production of 'Night of January 16th'. We three were friends ever since.

    I spent most weekends at their apt. If Vince was feeling a bit alone in the mornings, he would first turn up the 1812 Overture, cannons booming, to ensure we were awake. Then he would knock, enquire about our state of decency & entered with a towel over his arm & a tray of champagne glasses with orange juice. Later he might make omelets with mushrooms & shrimp. He also made a recipe called Gunk which perhaps he has foisted on some of you.

    Sometimes we were four in the morning. 'Fourth' looked wounded as I sat pampered by Wally and Vince who was patiently brushing the tangles out of my long hair. Much sulking by Fourth ensued.

    Through Vince, we met Bruce Evoy. Vince was a partner in Bay Street Personnel, a temp agency company. I can 'type' at about 80 or 90 wpm & was showing off in their testing area. Vince, who used to be a Court reporter, came up behind my chair, leaned over my shoulders, and typed faster! It isn't hard to imagine his flying fingers as he pounded out his flaming fire & brimstone editorials years later.

    Vince was a pussycat really & I witnessed only one incident that could be called physically violent. Wally & I lay awake, listening to the angry voices, Fourth was nattering on & on and could not, would not, be stopped. Vince's threats became more & more graphic & finally he yelled, "Shut up, shut up I said, or there'll be an axe-murder in here!" Then, POW! and quiet whimpering. Next morning, we saw the slightly-bigger-than-fist-sized hole in the French doors to the kitchen. But he hadn't hit a person & I doubt he ever has.

    At first, he had me fooled with his references to .44 Magnums, bow and arrow hunts, and his counsel on how to kill a whole pack of gophers: shoot the mother first, prop her up & paste a smile on her mouth. Then watch the little ones come out of their burrows, and blast away. Horrified, I would say, "Vincent Miller!" & he would cover his face with spread fingers & hee-hee-hee like a naughty child. Again, I doubt he ever shot anything in his adult life.

    He was more protective and caring than anything else. Over the years, he had several cats & dogs, and leaves to mourn his Rottie 'Candy'. One wild demonic kitten used to spin around & around on whatever LP was playing, but even as he decried the loss of another favorite record, he laughed himself silly too.

    Vince also doted on his niece & nephew & loved the presents they gave him. One was a mug which, when tilted to drink from, put your face a mere two inches from an enormous cockroach on the inside. "I just about had a heart attack!" he said, with his hand across his chest. That, and other mannerisms I'm sure you remember: the back of his hand across his forehead (doing his 'Camille' act), and someone's previous mention of the Woody Woodpecker laugh which he borrowed from Bruce.

    Vince loved all kinds of music: folk, western, opera. He encouraged the artists as they sang. When Joan Sutherland was nearing the end of 'Casta diva', he would yell, "That's it, honey, scream your t*** off!"

    In early 1981, there was an infamous and brutal raid on some bathhouses in Toronto. On February 20th, some 4,000 protestors marched to the 52nd division of the Toronto police. Linking arms, sandwiched between Vince and Bruce, we chanted, "No more shit! No more shit!" It was the momentous beginning of an organized movement for gay rights in Canada. Last week, Toronto's Gay Pride Parade attracted 1,000,000 people from around the world. Same-sex marriages are now legal, members of parliament are gay, and everyone has come a long way.

    When Vince moved to "the States", Bruce & I would drive down to meet with him in his new environment. We shopped in Buffalo (Vince loved his records), there was a visit or two with Ralph Raico & other libertarians in the area. The first SI conference, in Zurich, was the hardest to organize, Bruce in Cda & Vince in the States, no internet, no experience in booking & guaranteeing a block of hotel rooms overseas, trying to get speakers to commit, and all done with very little money.

    Vince inherited several thousand dollars from an aunt, and promptly bought a better printing machine. He was reduced to looking under the floor mats of his car for coins. Bruce & I started sending him a few dollars to survive. Bruce constantly nagged him & they fought battle royals, especially over the how much & why of expenses: Bruce was the bean counter & stickler about everything, Vince was the dreamer & the whole-picture planner. Bruce was the voice (Patrick Henry) and Vince the pen.

    When people talk of Vince & his dedication to liberty, many think of the years of his life spent on it. They could well include his deliberate abandonment of a comfortable lifestyle, penthouse & parties, wining & dining, and acceptance of a frugal existence for the rest of his life. Thank god for the angels who helped him out financially, often paying his way to the conferences so he could see the results of his labor.

    As the years went by, we saw each other less often of course, but we met at ISIL conferences or in Toronto and it was always a great time. When Vince spotted me at the Phoenix convention, he lifted me up in the air & said, "Hiya, Poopsie!" I don't know where that came from, but it became an instant endearment, to be remembered.

    We were last corresponding just a couple of months ago. I had sent him an article on Rand from the Globe and Mail, and asked about the possibility of a get-together in Toronto. He was talking about the mountain of Laissez-Faire books, said he still missed his fiery red GTO "but on the other hand it did stand out like a hip flask in a bikini. Nice not to stand out too much these days." And, "The elections were something to watch. Mixed emotions — sort of like watching your mother-in-law go over a cliff in your new Mercedes." That wasn't an original but then, as you remember, he often started a conversation by saying, "Oh, by the way, have you heard the one about…?"

    Vince's love of laughter acknowledged, his serious side merits the accolades flowing in. Someone previously mentioned that he was genuine, never thought of himself as 'special', so the poem below reminds me of him.

    I am only one,

    But still I am one.

    I cannot do everything,

    But I can still do something;

    And because I cannot do everything

    I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

    Vincenzo Milleri, go now, go find Bruce. Irritate the hell out of him, as you know so well how to do, get a scorching tongue-lashing, then laugh & laugh, together, once more. Ciao, ciao.

  22. Vince was a great friend. I’ve lost a couple of them in the last few years. They make their own space and no one else is like them.

    I had the most interaction with him printing my taxi guide. That rotary press was his baby. I never got the hang of it, tho I’m usually OK with machines. Every time something went wrong it was “Vince!” Followed by an explanation of what went wrong. He would come down and fix it. No matter that he had fixed the same thing a dozen times before, and maybe I should start learning these things for myself.

    He called the flyers that he printed “Bullets.” Every round of that press was a bullet.

    I can’t say how much I’ll miss him. Damn the luck that he got that disease.

    We lost a good friend.

  23. Hi Shirley….I just looked up Vince on the computer and noticed of his passing….How sad….. My husband went to school with him in London, Ont. and he was an usher at our wedding. My husband died of cancer in 1988. I will always remember his sweet manner. I remember him playing his guaitar and singing western songs. Had him over for thankagiving dinner and he brought us a jar of pickles his mom made. Thank you for the nice write up about him. He was a great court clerk and a wonderful writer. Lilly

  24. We need more people like him to lead us.

  25. quinceanera limousine
    Tell you what; I want to get this done before I go to bed (it's just after midnight here), but I don't expect you to even see it till tomorrow. So I'm gonna go ahead and reprint, and if you object just say so and I'll delete. Thx.

  26. Hi Shirley….I just looked up Vince on the computer and noticed of his passing….How sad….. My husband went to school with him in London, Ont. and he was an usher at our wedding. My husband died of cancer in 1988. I will always remember his sweet manner. I remember him playing his guaitar and singing western songs. Had him over for thankagiving dinner and he brought us a jar of pickles his mom made. Thank you for the nice write up about him. He was a great court clerk and a wonderful writer. Lilly
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