Miller, who was also serving a term as president of the Mission Merchants Association, had published the New Mission News for 22 years, writing monthly news stories and editorials on how local policies affected the people in his neighborhood, covering issues such as tenants' rights, landlord code violations, gentrification, and the dot-com boom and bust.
"You have no idea how irreplaceable Victor Miller is," says Randy Shaw, director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic. "It's a terrible loss for the community. Victor had the most perceptive analysis of the Mission. He would be critical of people, but he was always fair. He had interviews and quotes with Willie Brown that nobody else printed."
"He was not afraid to publish what other papers wouldn't say," adds Willie Ratcliff, editor of the San Francisco Bay View newspaper.
Miller, who often wore Hawaiian shirts and rode his bike to appointments and city meetings, ran the New Mission News almost single-handedly from the basement of his apartment. "He was the force that brought the paper together," says Peter Claudius, the News' copy editor, who has known Miller since his college days at UC Berkeley.
It is unclear whether the New Mission News will continue publishing, though Claudius says he and the paper's handful of staffers will try to honor Miller by keeping it going. Miller is survived by his mother, who is in her 80s and lives in Carlsbad, Calif.; ownership of the paper will go to her, and she will help determine the publication's fate in the next few weeks.
A public memorial is being planned.
"He fought for the underdog, whether it was a small business or an old lady being evicted, or people being displaced from an SRO by arson," says Cathy Sullivan, a close friend. "He was a fixture in the Mission."