Warren A. Miller, the iconic and beloved filmmaker who introduced generations to the thrills and freedom of skiing and outdoor adventures, passed away at the age of 93 on Wednesday evening, Jan. 24, his family announced. He died peacefully of natural causes at his home on Orcas.
Miller earned global acclaim and a passionate, multi-generational following for his annual ski feature films, which kicked off the ski season for more than 60 years, showing in hundreds of cities across the U.S. and around the world. Packed with adventure and exotic travel, Miller’s distinct, droll narration and humorous hijinks on the slopes highlighted his films.
While he is known as the original ski bum, Miller’s talents went well beyond ski filmmaking. He produced more than 500 films, primarily covering outdoor pursuits, including surfing, sailing, and other water sports. As an artist, cartoonist, and author, he wrote some 1,200 columns and 11 books.
He also was a World War II veteran, a ski instructor and ski racer, an accomplished surfer, and a champion sailor. He took up windsurfing in his 60s, and then turned to destination motor boating in his 70s and 80s, exploring the Northwest and Alaska from his home on Orcas Island. During his 80s and 90s, Miller’s philanthropic efforts provided entrepreneurial training to thousands of youth nationwide, emphasizing hard work, ingenuity, and creativity.
Perhaps one of his most cited quotes provides some insight as to how Miller packed so much into one lifetime:
“If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do.”
A detailed look at Warren’s incredible life is available at www.warrenmiller.org.
Orcas Islander Justin Paulsen fondly recalled Warren’s many community contributions: “Warren’s contributions to Orcas Island were many, but certainly never flashy. He gave in ways that helped contribute to the ‘little guy.’ Warren was a go-to person at Kaleidoscope when there was a family in need. He enjoyed getting to know who the people were that he was helping and knowing that his contributions were directly impacting members of his community. Warren’s contributions and vision were vital in creating the Orcas Island skate park and like almost everything he did on the island, there is no trace that he made it happen. The plaque placed at the skate park sums up the spirit of his giving perfectly: ‘There is no limit to the amount of good a person can do if they don’t care who gets the credit.’ Warren Miller came to Orcas like many others have, but his impact on the island community will live on far beyond his departure.”
“This is a sad day during which we draw some comfort from the fact that Warren’s legacy of adventure, freedom and humor carries on in the countless lives he touched,” said Laurie Miller, his wife of 30 years. “Warren loved nothing more than sharing his life’s adventures and hearing literally every day from friends old and new about how his stories inspired others to enrich and enjoy their own lives. All of us are better for knowing and loving Warren.”
“Warren Miller was a globally loved ambassador for skiing and adventure sports, pioneering an entire genre of filmmaking,” said Andy Clurman, CEO of Active Interest Media, the parent company of Warren Miller Entertainment. “We join generations of Warren’s fans in both mourning his loss and celebrating a life well lived.”
Warren is survived by his wife of 30 years, Laurie; by his sons Scott (Melissa) and Kurt (Ali); by his daughter, Chris (David Lucero); his stepson, Colin Kaufmann; three granddaughters (Valeska, Kasimira, and Jenna) and two grandsons (Alexander and Ryan). Plus, thousands of wonderful friends and countless loyal fans as well as his three black dogs. He was extremely grateful for his tireless caregiver, Ginger Moore.
The family asks for privacy during this difficult time and encourages those who are able to ski a favorite run or enjoy another activity they love in Warren’s memory. In lieu of memorial gifts, the family also invites those inclined to benefit the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky, Montana at warrenmillerpac.org.
As Warren might say: “I’ll see you same time, same place next year, only I’ll be watching from a different mountaintop.”