Roger Willis Miller
March 8, 1930 – August 4, 2018
Roger passed away at 2:25 am on Saturday, August 4, 2018, after a battle with bladder cancer. After chemotherapy and radiation, he was weak and thin. The treatments wore him out and he passed away in the hospital after complications. He was surrounded by loved ones to the very end. He didn't spend a minute alone at the hospital.
Roger was born on March 8, 1930, during the height of the depression, in Tooele, Utah. He was born to William Christian Miller and Mary Eva Brady.
Due to the depression, and his father looking for work, his family moved around Utah during his early years. Even though money was tight, he never went hungry. His parents worked hard and he had a happy childhood. He had 2 older brothers, 3 younger brothers, and one little sister. He and his siblings stayed close until the end of their lives.
They lived in Delta and Spanish Fork and finally settled in Orem. His father found a good job and worked at Geneva Steele for many years.
Roger was 16 when they bought their home on South Carterville Road in Orem. He graduated from High School and then headed off to Brigham Young University. He was planning to become an architect.
In 1951, after 3 years at BYU, Roger knew he was going to be drafted for the Korean War. His friend was called in and drafted and he let Roger know that his name was next on the list.
Roger wanted a little control of his military career, so he decided to go and enlist instead of being drafted. He chose to enlist in the Navy. A choice that would affect his life forever.
He traveled the country and the world taking various classes and assignments in the Navy. One of his favorite assignments was working on helicopters on Aircraft carriers. Helicopters were a new form of transportation. He invented a light for helicopters and it is still in use today.
In 1953, while stationed in San Diego, he attended a church dance and met a beautiful, stunning, brunette and it was love at first sight. During the dance, he slipped out with the young lady for a romantic stroll in the fog and they shared their first kiss.
A year later, on September 24, 1954, he took the beautiful brunette, Betty Jean Matthews, to the Salt Lake City LDS temple and made her his wife. He and his new bride, and her little daughter, Cheri, settled into domestic life in San Diego.
He often said how happy he was on their first Christmas. He loved laying by the small, but beautifully decorated Christmas tree, listening to Betty and Cheri baking Christmas goodies in the kitchen and Christmas music in the background. They didn't have much, but he just loved being a family man.
When his time in the Navy came to an end, he attended classes at San Diego State University. This time he went to school to become a teacher. While in the Navy, one of his superiors told him, "I know you want to be an architect, but you ARE a teacher." Luckily, Roger listened to that advice and became a teacher to thousands of students over 4 decades.
Roger and Cheri both attended their first day of junior high together at Spring Valley Junior High. She as a 7th grader and Roger as, Mr. Miller, the new, handsome science teacher. Cheri overheard many girls swooning over the new teacher.
Roger went on to teach at Parkway Junior High and La Mesa Junior High also. He was always the fun, hands-on teacher. He was the teacher who blew up his hand making "safe" rocket fuel. He was the teacher who assigned students interesting things to look for when they had to miss class to go out of town. He was the teacher who showed educational, but unique slide shows when he knew students were getting tired of school. He was the teacher who sprinkled a secret concoction on the walkways of the school. A concoction that exploded and popped under the feet of surprised students. Mr. Miller really was a favorite teacher. His claim to fame was when one of his students, Ellen Ochoa, became an astronaut and said that Mr. Miller was one of the first people to make her think that she could travel into space.
Roger and Betty had 3 more children over the years. Ron, Terri, and Bobbi. They were good parents and while not wealthy, they provided the children with good family time and memorable adventures. The family traveled often. First in the station wagon, later in a camper/van and eventually in "the RV." Roger was never happier than when on a road trip with the family.
Because of Roger's love of nature, he took up the hobby of photography. It was a way to capture the beauty of the outdoors. He took classes in photography. He joined photography clubs. He read endless books about photography. He even built himself a darkroom.
Roger's love of the outdoors, also led to him being called as the scoutmaster in the La Mesa 2nd Ward of the LDS church. He led Troop 370 for many years. Later in Lakeside, he was called again. Even after his retirement, he was on the merit badge board for his local troop in Mesa, Arizona. Scouting was a huge part of his life. Many young boys learned how to be good men, because of Roger's patience and example.
Roger and Betty eventually retired in Mesa, Arizona in his parents mobile home. Roger thought life would settle down once he retired, but he often remarked, that he was busier than ever. He was always helping someone. He was always fixing something. He was often reading about his many interests. He was often attending events of his grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Many days he spent painting his pictures. He was like the Energizer bunny. He may have moved a little bit slower, but he never sat still for long.
One of the amazing things about Roger was his ability to remember everything! He could remember the names of childhood friends and teachers. He could remember chemical equations. He could remember random trivia. He answered all of our questions before Google ever came along.
Roger leaves behind an adoring posterity of 4 children, 19 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren with one on the way, and 1 great-great-grandchild. He also left behind 2 of his siblings. He loved spending time with his family. He had the ability to make everyone feel like they were his favorite.
When his passing was imminent, the grandchildren all called. Each one began with the statement, "Grandpa, you Taught me..." His superior in the Navy all those years ago was right, when he told him, "Roger, you ARE a teacher."
- Betty Jean Miller, Wife
- Ronald Miller, Son
- Cheri Miller Gittins, Daughter
- Terri Miller Dinwiddie, Daughter
- Bobbi Miller Astle, Daughter
- Margaret Miller Atkinson, Sister
- Stanley Scott Miller, Brother
- Dear grandfather of 19, great-grandfather of 24, with one on the way, and great-great grandfather of 1
- Funeral Service Saturday, August 11, 2018
Roger Willis Miller
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