My story began on January 31, 1928. I was born in Enumclaw, Washington, the son of Earl Roy Miller a coal miner and Yolanda Cononica an Italian immigrant. During this time Washington State was full of coal mining and logging operations all trying to be successful.
Our family settled in Cumberland, Washington, where my Grandfather owned three saloons supporting the miners and loggers in the area. Because of the isolated locality, my brother sister and I played with the kids of miners and loggers that lived nearby. Money was hard to come by. Many worked only to pay for their drinks and just drank their lives away. My mother wanted so much more for us and my father did not want any of us to work in the mines because of the dreaded “Black Lung” disease.
I started school, studied hard and started working with a local gyppo logging company. Because of my father’s background in the coal mines and his skill as a hoist man, he taught me a lot about mechanics and gave me a good background that would serve me well for many years.
Because of the economy I left school without graduating and went to work doing anything I could find to help the family survive. I worked many different jobs but the hardest job by far was as a Cat Skinner, setting chokers on logs.
I met Darlene Grace Tinker when they were both just 17 and we were married soon after. She was the love of my life for 64 years until she passed away in 2009.
World War II was going strong so I joined the United States Marine Corps doing a job that I refuse to discuss. I was getting ready to deploy when the war ended and with it my time in the Marine Corps; however, my commitment to the Marines continued to haunt me for the next several years as I knew I could be re-activated at a moment’s notice.
I started to hone my skills as a logger and operating heavy equipment. I was working for A.E. Williams who managed a construction and logging operation when I got a great opportunity to work for a major logging company called Scott Paper and I took it. I ran big bulldozers and all types of heavy equipment they owned. Working for Scott Paper I continued to learn about building roads in the Cascade Mountains at a logging camp located in Lester, Washington. I moved quickly up the ranks from lead man, foreman and then superintendent of the construction of all the logging roads with a staff of over 200 men. Johnny Denver was one of my employees.
The Scott Paper Company would place bids on a sections of wilderness to log the timber to make paper products. It was my job to blast anything in the way to build safe roads for the loggers to haul the logs to the reload section where the logs were loaded onto railroad cars to be transported to Everett, Washington, for processing.
I worked at the Lester operation until it was closed in 1983. I was one of the lucky ones as Scott Paper transferred me to the Hamilton, Washington, operation so I moved my family to Sedro Woolley. Within a couple of years that operation was also closed and Scott Paper left Washington State. Most of the remaining employees lost their jobs as well as their homes and savings. I landed on my feet having worked for Scott Paper for 35 years. I was in my 50s and not ready to retire so I had a hard decision to make. After a lot of soul searching I decided to go to Mount Vernon College and obtained a degree in Mid-Level Management.
After working for other people for years I decided to start The Miller Construction Company and purchased a variety of heavy construction equipment including dump trucks, graders, and bulldozers with all of the support equipment. Miller Construction was responsible for building many of the roads in Skagit County as well as some of the local landmarks such as the Iron Skillet and Burger King to name just two. Once I became a small business owner I made it my mission to support local small businesses.
Unfortunately one does not stay young forever so I sold the company and Darlene and I began traveling the United States in a motor home until her death.
After a while, I met a wonderful new friend, Mrs. Zerma Pierson. We traveled together and enjoyed each other’s company for the next 8 years. An unfortunate medical condition found Zerma at a time where she was no longer able to manage her everyday living responsibilities, so with her family’s help she moved to the LaConnor Retirement Inn. I followed soon after and we live across the hall from each other and spend part of everyday together.
I have had such a wonderful life and so much to be thankful for but if you are reading my story it is because I have passed the task on to my son to finish my tale as I begin the next part of my journey.
My Dad, Kenneth Roy Miller, left this world to move on to his final reward on March 28th, 2017. Dad died in Skagit Valley Hospital as a result of complications from hip repair surgery in Mount Vernon, Washington. He was in good spirits even when I talked to him for the last time. He was facing a long hard recovery to get back to normal along with an assortment of other medical issues.
In accordance with Dad’s wishes there will not be any formal religious service for him but if you would like take a moment and remember him with a prayer he will hear you from above. Dad will be cremated and will be interred at a later date during a private ceremony. His final resting place will be Evergreen Memorial Park, Enumclaw, Washington, where he will join his wife Darlene and their two dogs (Sec-03 Block-L Niche-13A).
Dad made many friends over the years and leaves behind a large and wonderful family; especially his daughter, Kathy Lynn VanBuskirk of Eatonville, Washington, and Kenneth Glen Miller of Camarillo, California.
Dad joined the Masonic Lodge and was a life member of the Sedro Woolley Lodge. While many fathers pass on their Masonic rings to their sons this was not the case with my Dad. I passed my ring on to him and now it will complete the circle and come back to me.
Some of Dad’s favorite hobbies include: *Fishing (both lakes and streams). He owned boats for most of his life. *He was an avid flyer and was an accomplished Pilot. He owned four separate airplanes and even built an airstrip behind his house in Cumberland. When he couldn’t fly anymore he built remote controlled air planes and helicopters and would fly them all around town. *He loved the outdoors. He would take out his snow mobile for a trip during winter or in better weather be logging some miles on his motorcycle. *He was passionate about HO scale trains and at one time had a great collection.
Now for some of the fun things that I can remember my Dad say or do:
1.”Getting old is not for sissies “
I could go on about fond memories and snippets of wisdom that Dad has given me over the years but you probably all have your own Daddy-O thoughts and stories.
So, Fair Winds and Following Seas and Semper Fi for the best Dad ever, you will be dearly missed by all.