GRNC President - Paul Valone

By F. Paul Valone

December 20, 2014



In memoriam: Ben Miles (1963-2014)
I have met only a handful of true patriots – people who defend individual liberty not from personal needs, but because it is the right thing to do. One such person was Ben Miles.

I met Ben through other GRNC leaders back in late 1994. By 1995, he and Mike Concannon formed the backbone of our nascent legislative team. By a couple of years later, in an era of a Democrat-controlled legislature and amid a national chorus for gun control, Ben and Mike and I would often have to spend unplanned days in Raleigh while fighting anti-gun legislation. It became a joke that one of us would have to go out and buy toothbrushes.

Early on, when we helped draft North Carolina’s concealed handgun law, a certain Republican legislator, feeling vulnerable in his district, broke the agreement with his caucus to let the bill quietly slide through without amendment by introducing seven compound amendments. Instantly, the angry Judiciary Committee chairman adjourned the meeting and doors began slamming in adjacent offices.

The three of us ended up in the office of the primary bill sponsor, John Nichols, trying to figure out what to do. Nichols said, “You guys need to make him back off, or the bill is dead.”

With that, Ben and I intercepted the legislator as he left his office. We lobbied him across the legislative building. We implored him across the bridge and courtyard to the legislative office building, and finally, as he entered an elevator full of people, unmoved by our entreaties, Ben said: “If you do this, we will have to tell your constituents what you are doing to them.” The legislator replied, “Do what you have to do”, and the doors closed.

Next, Ben called the legislator and “offered” to leaflet his district. The legislator responded by calling the NRA (unfortunately for him, we were at odds with the NRA even then), and later by calling me, whining, “This isn’t how you should be treating your friends.” When I responded, “This isn’t how ‘friends’ should behave,” he hung up on me.

In what would become a consistent pattern over GRNC’s next two decades of legislative action, however, the errant legislator not only withdrew his amendments, but also became a fierce advocate for GRNC’s legislative positions.

After a hiatus of several years, Ben once again became a valued member of the GRNC legislative team, helping to pass Castle Doctrine (HB 650) in 2011 and, in 2013, the dramatic expansion of concealed carry in HB 937.

In the accompanying photo, after GRNC’s annual meeting and dinner in June, Ben was able to enjoy a day at the range with nationally-renowned gun rights figures John R. Lott and Nikki Goeser.

Ben passed away on December 12 after suffering a severe stroke. Speaking on behalf of the volunteers of Grass Roots North Carolina, he will be deeply missed.


It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of John Benjamin “Ben” Miles, Jr. Ben, a founding member of Grass Roots North Carolina (GRNC), has passed away on December 12 2014.

Ben was born June 9, 1963 in Guilford County to J. Benjamin Miles and the late Daphne Rees Miles.  He graduated from Eastern Guilford High School and received a degree in Chemistry from Appalachian State University.  He worked in biochemistry and in contract manufacturing at Ciba Geigy for several years, and thereafter established and operated Urceus Corporation.

Ben was a lover of music.  He was in the university band at Appalachian, sang in the choir at Westover church and sang with the Greensboro Oratorio Singers for many years. Also, Ben was a 32nd degree Mason, and was past master of Greensboro Lodge #76.  He was also an instructor for concealed carry weapons and founding member of Grass Roots North Carolina.

He is survived by his father, J. Benjamin Miles, Sr., of McLeansville, as well as a sister, Lois Rose Miles, of Apex, NC.

Memorial contributions should be sent to Westover Church, 505 Muirs Chapel Road, Greensboro, NC, 27410 or Bethel Presbyterian Church, 302 Knox Road, McLeansville, NC, 27301.
From left: Ben Miles, Josette Chmiel, Dr. John R. Lott, Nikki Goeser and Paul Valone at celebrity shoot, Point Blank Range, after GRNC's Celebrating Twenty Years of Victory dinner. Photo by Lori Valone.


Paul Valone

President, Grass Roots North Carolina