Royce Miles, former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel executive, 'always put the needs of the employees above his own'

Royce Miles, former executive vice president and general manager of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, during a 2013 meeting.
Royce Miles, former executive vice president and general manager of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, during a 2013 meeting.

Even as a young press operator at The Washington Post, working amid the din of printing presses rolling at deadline, Royce Miles stood out from the crowd.

He took pride in his work, and had a love for print.

"He was clearly both good at his job and interested in learning more," said Donald Graham, The Post's former publisher.

Miles' career in the newspaper industry took him far from The Post's press room to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, where he arrived in 1998 and eventually rose to the organization's No. 2 executive post.

Along the way, Miles, who left the Journal Sentinel in 2016, never missed an opportunity to lend a helping hand to others.

Miles, who lived in Kenosha, died unexpectedly April 3, with his family by his side at Aurora Medical Center in Kenosha.

He was 54.

George Stanley, editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, recalled Miles' passion for the job and his fellow workers.

"Royce helped lead the Journal Sentinel through a difficult time of industry transition with his integrity, honesty and deep concern for our employees and for serving our community," Stanley said. "He stayed hopeful and always looked forward. He helped our whole team stay positive with his confidence and gentle sense of humor. You just can't put a value on having a teammate like Royce when going through storms."

Elizabeth Brenner, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's former publisher, described how she first heard about Miles when she was introduced to workers at the newspaper's West Milwaukee press facility.

"I remember sidling up to a pressman as a brand new publisher and trying to make small talk," she said.

She asked the worker what he liked about working at the Journal Sentinel and was startled when he went on and on about Miles and a program he instituted at the facility.

Brenner's reaction? "Who's Royce Miles and when do I get to meet him."

"Royce's ability to work with management right to the top of the company, and to work with your hard-working pressman or packager was like nothing else I've ever seen in any newspaper I was ever at," Brenner said.

Miles moved through the production ranks at the Journal Sentinel, ultimately becoming the newspaper's executive vice president and general manager, the No. 2 spot to the publisher. He later held the title of Managing Director of Operations for Journal Media Group, Inc.

Journal Sentinel reporter James Causey marveled how Miles, a top executive, became a fixture at conventions for the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).

"He always told people how much he loved being in Milwaukee, how he loved what we did," Causey said. "Royce appreciated the contributions of journalists."

Miles was born at Andrews Air Force Base in Camp Springs, Md., and raised in Seat Pleasant, Md., just outside Washington, D.C.

His partner, Amanda Ramsfield, said Miles was drawn to printing and graphic design while in high school.

"He knew everything about it," she said.

He eventually found his way to The Washington Post, where he started as a press operator trainee. Miles was part of a program that enabled employees to pursue degrees at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he eventually received his Bachelor of Science degree.

Royce Miles, left, in an undated photo from The Washington Post's press room.
Royce Miles, left, in an undated photo from The Washington Post's press room.

"Royce was the kind of guy who you knew was going somewhere," said Jim Coley, vice president of production at The Washington Post.

Coley said Miles eventually became assistant superintendent in charge of The Post's press room before heading to Milwaukee in 1998.

Miles was part of the team that planned and helped fully open the Journal Sentinel's West Milwaukee printing plant in 2003. The last papers are due to be printed at that facility next month.

"That was his baby," Brenner said.

Gary Hall, regional operations director for Gannett, said Miles displayed "work ethic and drive" throughout his career.

"Royce never walked around an issue or a problem," Hall said. "He would confront it head-on. Everyone looked up to him and more importantly he always took the time to listen to any and all of the employees. Royce always put the needs of the employees above his own."

After leaving the Journal Sentinel, Miles worked for Fischer Paper Products and in recent years became the owner and operator of Grundstrom Landscaping in Lake Bluff, Ill.

Miles was known for his dedication to education. He earned an Executive Master's Degree in Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and also attended Northwestern University to complete a Media Executive Leadership Program.

He served on the board of directors for Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin.

"Royce was passionate about people," Ramsfield said. "He was such a great leader. In his own way he always wanted to give back and take care of people. He always wanted to help out."

Besides Ramsfield, survivors include Miles' mother, Gloria Miles of Washington, D.C., his daughter Kiah Ballard-Miles of Kenosha and grandson Taurrean "TJ" Koker, Jr.

A visitation will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday with the funeral services at 7 p.m. at Proko Funeral Home, 5111 60th St., Kenosha. Interment will be private. In lieu of flowers, memorials to the family would be appreciated for his grandson's education.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Former Journal Sentinel executive Royce Miles looked out for others