Never too late: City pays respects to Kent lawman

Kent Town Marshal Harry Miller received a telephone call on April 10, 1908 that five armed men who had robbed a man in Orilla (now SeaTac) were headed toward the city.

Officer Tim Lontz on Tuesday unveils a memorial at Kent City Hall’s Courtyard Plaza in honor of late lawmen Marshal Harry Miller

Other officers see honors

Kent Town Marshal Harry Miller received a telephone call on April 10, 1908 that five armed men who had robbed a man in Orilla (now SeaTac) were headed toward the city.

Miller met the men at the city train depot and ordered them to put their hands up. Instead, the men shot Miller in the stomach, shoulder and arm, knocking the pistol out of the lawman’s hand.

Despite the injuries, Miller dragged himself to a nearby saloon and described the robbers before he died.

A century later, the Kent Police Department honored Miller, the only Kent officer killed in the line of duty, in a ceremony Tuesday evening at the Courtyard Plaza at City Hall.

“He lost his life trying to protect our city,” Kent Police Chief Steve Strachan said at the ceremony. “We should never forget him.”

To remember Miller, the Kent Police Officers Association donated a 350-pound memorial stone that city officials revealed Tuesday in the southwest corner of the police car parking lot, known as “the bullpen” to officers.

The stone includes the name of Harry Miller as well as the names of Kent Police officers Terry Orr and Greg Duffin. Orr died from cancer in 2003 after six years as a Kent officer. Duffin died from cancer in 2007 after 12 years as a Kent officer. Several relatives of Orr and Duffin attended the ceremony.

“When an officer falls in the line of duty or illness takes a life early, the pain is very, very raw,” Kent Police Chaplain Pat Ellis said at the ceremony. “The dedication of the stone is to honor the fallen officers. Harry, Terry and Greg, we honor you. Your lives always will be a part of who we are.”

The words on the memorial stone read:

“In dedication to the men and women who so bravely wore their badge, who fought the good fight and finished their race while in the line of duty. We honor their dedication and their service to the Kent Police Department.”

Miller, who has no known relatives in the area, had worked as the town marshal for only two months before his death at age 42. Born in Scotland, Miller moved to Kent from Duluth, Minn. A memorial service for Miller in Kent was described by newspapers as probably the largest-attended funeral to ever take place in the city. The mayor and City Council acted as pallbearers.

Miller was buried in Saginaw, Mich.

The City of Kent formed a town posse to hunt down the murderers, according to newspaper reports.

The men were captured east of Kent near the Cedar River after another gun battle. Two men were convicted of first-degree murder and served life sentences at McNeil Island State Penitentiary.

Contact Steve Hunter at 253-872-6600, ext. 5052 or shunter@reporternewspapers.com.

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