John Wilford Miller
August 22, 1938 - October 19, 2021
John W. Miller passed away suddenly and peacefully in his home near Cascade, Idaho, on Tuesday, October 19, 2021, of natural causes, after struggling the past few years with COPD, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and breathing issues. He was 83.
He was born to Orville and Virginia Miller August 22, 1938, in Gooding, Idaho. As a young boy, his family moved often as his father worked for the Union Pacific Railroad throughout the Northwest. John attended school in Bliss, Idaho, graduating in 1956, where his main interests were sports of any kind. The first word John said was "ball", and that became his life's direction.
As a young man, John worked for many farmers and ranchers near Bliss, Clover Creek, and the Camas Prairie near Hill City and Fairfield. Days were long and hot, but he still managed to have fun most of the time. He also joined his dad working on the railroad, lying about his age to be able to work. John joined the Idaho National Guard, stationed out of Fort Ord, California, and then returned to Magic Valley. He played basketball with "outlaw" teams, and baseball with the AAA teams in the area.
It was while working for Lee Pontiac in Jerome that he met the girl he would soon marry, Carolyn Davis of Jerome, home for the summer from USU in Logan, UT. They met at the A & W Root Beer stand, and the fun began! They were married Oct. 16, 1962, in Logan, Utah. After working two years in Jerome, they both entered school at ISU in Pocatello, Idaho. Both got their Bachelor of Arts Degrees in Elementary Education from there in 1967 and 1968. Blaine County School District offered them teaching contracts, which they readily accepted, and moved to Hailey, buying a little log home, and began their teaching careers.
John taught and coached basketball, football, track, and refereed and umpired all of the above, and taught math in the Wood River Middle School for 30 years, retiring in 1998. He was a legendary teacher, and really enjoyed his relationships with his students. The students learned a lot of math in "Miller's class", even while dodging "the lemon". (If you knew John, you knew the "lemon story"!!) He received many trophies, plaques, and accolades during his career, the most valued of which was his Lifetime Pass from the Idaho High School Activities Association, enabling him to attend ANY activity for free. It was much used.
Summer vacations were spent working for the Forest Service, and caretaking the school grounds and Hailey Cemetery. Mowed and watered with perfection, which was his trademark. "If you're going to do something, do it right!", he told us all. His yards have always been a showcase, no matter where he lived or worked. John, on his mower or snow blower, was something to see. He had it "dialed in". He was a committed umpire at the Ray Nelson Little League Invitational Baseball Tournament in Hailey for 32 years, and a ticket-salesman at the Days of the Old West 4th of July Rodeo in Hailey during that same time frame.
His passions were elk hunting with a bow, snowmobiling out west of Hailey, in the Stanley Basin, Smiley Creek, and West Yellowstone with family and friends. He was good at all of it, a bit reckless at times, but kept grinning with his boots on. The third weekend of July each summer was spent in Stanley at the Idaho State Bowhunters State Shoot. A great, long weekend of camping and shooting at 3-D animal targets from armadillos to elephants. His favorite animal was undoubtedly the elk, hands-down.
After retiring from teaching, they moved to Cascade, Idaho, where he lived out the rest of his life. John was the neighborhood go-to guy if you needed something fixed. Mechanical, yes. Electrical, not so much. He had the shop and tools (meticulously organized and hung) to get any job done. Except in the house, where his favorite excuse was "Can't. Got COL "(short for "cat on lap"). He and Brad worked together on many building projects over the years, appreciating each other's skill sets.
John and Carolyn's lives were blessed and enriched beyond belief when their little family was expanded by the addition of Bradley Allan Miller on 2-17-1977. Brad's joyous exuberance transformed both his parents, and still does to this day. And then-- on 10-29-2001, Brad's daughter, Mackenzie Rose Miller, was born in Boise, Idaho, and became the sparkle in her Papa's eye. He truly loved that "little squirt" even unto his death.
His unquenchable sense of humor and pranksterism endeared him to his family and friends and students. Some student nicknamed him "Fuzzy" on a black sweatshirt to make fun of his always flat-top haircut. John had a colorful language which we lovingly remember as "the Miller-isms".
John was "old school". He made friends easily and could always be found chatting it up with a stranger somewhere if you couldn't find him. He was a faithful and loyal friend. He sealed a deal with a handshake. He was a man of his word above all else.
As his health declined the last three months, he spent more and more time in his recliner, watching TV, reading Western novels and obituaries in the newspapers, and visiting with the numerous folks that stopped by to chat with him. He looked forward to their visits so much. The increasing number of visits to Boise for medical issues was wearing him out. The only good thing was when he got to go to China Buffet after the appt. (much
moaning and groaning by those accompanying him).
John had enough energy in Sept. to gather in Glenns Ferry with his Miller family cousins and their families for an annual reunion. His health was declining, and he knew it. He talked often during his last month about how much he enjoyed swapping stories and lies with the group. Visits from son Brad and granddaughter Kenzie in late summer took on a new reality for all of us. We were grateful to be together. John's gruffidy humor and gentle heart will be missed.
John is survived by his wife of 59 years, Carolyn, of Cascade, Idaho; his son, Brad, and granddaughter Kenzie, both living in Southern California. He was preceded in death by his father and mother, and younger sister Mary. There are no services planned, as per John's request.
Remembrances may be left at www.mccallfunerals.com
Arrangements in care of McCall Funeral Home.
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