Leo Michael Miller, 84, of Idaho Falls, ID, died Monday, Nov. 27 at his home surrounded by his wife and children.
Leo was born Oct. 13, 1933 in Primrose, NE to Jacob and Adolpha Miller, the middle child in a family of nine children. He attended school at Primrose Public School, graduating in 1951. Growing up, he worked on his family's farm, and continued to do so after graduation. The star forward on his high school's basketball team, Leo scored 1104 career points over four years. A lover of animals throughout his life, Leo liked telling the story of a pet raccoon he kept that would wander in and out of the house. His farm knowledge stayed with him, even after leaving Nebraska, and Leo was a lifelong gardener, always caring for a backyard vegetable garden. He passed along his knowledge to his children and grandchildren when they had homes of their own. Leo liked planting a variety of plants, but there was always a place for a patch of corn.
In 1954, he enlisted in the United States Air Force. Three out of his four years of service were spent overseas in Germany, where he worked as a radar mechanic. Leo played basketball on the Spandelum Air Force Base All Star team, and was named MVP in 1956. He was honorably discharged in 1958 as a Staff Sergeant. His grandkids enjoyed seeing the photographs and the coin collection he amassed during his years in the Air Force.
Upon discharge, Leo moved to Milford, NE, where he enrolled at Nebraska State Vocational Technical School, and studied electronics. He graduated in 1960, and found work in Topeka, KS.
On June 23, 1962, Leo married Patricia Francis Corring at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Primrose, NE. Leo and Pat moved around frequently during their first two years of marriage, ultimately settling in Idaho Falls, in 1964 with their then one-year-old son Timothy. They welcomed their daughter Deborah two years later.
Upon moving to Idaho, Leo worked as an Instrument Technician at the Chemical Processing Plant at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory. He continued to do so for 31 years before retiring in 1995. He was very proud of his contributions in the development and maintenance of the early radiation detection instrumentation used at the plant.
Leo was a skilled woodworker. Amongst his creations was a small family cabin near Last Chance, which he built with his uncle in the early 1970's. His granddaughters often delighted in the doll furniture he would design and build for them. Mechanical and electrical repair was his speciality, he was known for spending hours in his garage tinkering on anything from a motor bike, to a dishwasher, to a lawn mower. To his friends and family, it seemed as if he could fix anything with a motor or an electrical system, and he was often called upon by them to do just that. Notoriously frugal, Leo didn't believe in buying something new if the old one could be fixed. Though he was never materialistic man, Leo nonetheless had one prized possession: his 1964 baby blue Ford Galaxy 500, which he only drove on two occasions; to church, and to visit his family in Nebraska.
Leo was passionate about spending time outdoors, especially with his children and his grandchildren. He loved living in Idaho, where he was able to spend many of his weekends fishing, snow skiing, boating, dirt-bike riding, and camping. He also enjoyed water skiing, and never let the fact that he couldn't swim stop him from participating. He simply strapped on a second life jacket on top of his first! He learned to snow ski as an adult alongside is son and daughter, and he continued to enjoy the mountains each winter into his eighties. Despite his grandkids' efforts to convert him to snowboarding, he remained a steadfast and an avid skier until the end. His grandkids fondly remember him teaching them how to fish and how to shoot, and spending summer afternoons in the hills teaching them how to ride dirt-bikes.
Continuing his early love of sports, Leo coached his children's basketball and baseball teams, and was a constant presence at his grandkids' games and meets throughout their early lives. True to his nature, Leo always had such a dignified and quiet demeanor on the bench as a basketball coach, one opposing fan thought he was the team priest instead of the coach! Rain or shine, he could always be relied upon to be watching from the stands, wearing a long-sleeve shirt and blue jeans, and never once breaking a sweat. He encouraged his kids and grandkids to be competitors, and though he rarely lavished praise, his pride in them was always evident. He was a longtime fan of the Utah Jazz, and was finally able to see a live game two winters ago, with his son and his granddaughter.
Leo was a member of the Idaho Falls Catholic Community for over 50 years, and was a member of the Knights of Columbus since the early 1960's. His faith was very important to him, and he attended Mass weekly for 30 years at Holy Rosary Church. Upon moving homes, he continued to attend Mass at Christ the King Church.
Leo was introspective and thoughtful. You had only to look into his eyes to see how intelligent and empathetic he was. A man of few words, he always acted with purpose, determination, and conviction. He could always be counted on to be prompt in his entrance to an event, as well as prompt in his exit.
In his retirement, Leo was active in American Legion Post 56 as an Honor Guard for the Bonneville County Veteran Memorial Team.
The Miller family would like to extend their deepest gratitude to Dr. Christian Shull and to his staff at the Teton Cancer Institute, and to the nurses and the CNA staff of Nuclear Care Partners, and Hands of Hope Hospice for their care. They would also like to thank Father Raul Corvarrubias for his ministry to our family.
Leo is survived by his wife of 55 years, Pat; his two children: Timothy (Kellie) and Debbie (Lance) Lacroix; his five grandchildren: Jake (Katie) Miller, Samantha (Kyle) Millican, Courtney Miller, Jared LaCroix, and Alex LaCroix; his two brothers: Richard and Harold (Gwen); his two sisters: Cecelia Keber and Mary Kay Henkenius; and his two beloved dogs; Bandit and Bella.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his two brothers: Raymond and Edward; and his two sisters: Margaret and Irene.
In lieu of flowers, a donation under Leo's name to Snake River Animal Shelter, 3000 Lindsay Blvd, Idaho Falls, ID, would be appreciated.
A Visitation will be held Friday Dec. 1, 2017 from 5 to 8 pm at Buck Miller Hann Funeral Home. Rosary will start at 6:00 pm. Mass of Christian Burial will be Saturday Dec. 2, 2017 at 1:00 pm at Christ the King Catholic Church. The Very Reverand Father Raul Corvarrubias will be presiding. Interment will follow at Fielding Memorial Park in Idaho Falls, ID.
Arrangements made under the direction of Buck Miller Hann Funeral Home, 825 E 17th St. Idaho Falls, ID.
Online condolences may be left a www.buckmillerhann.com.
All are invited to the Parish Hall at Christ the King Church for a luncheon following. Family and friends are also encouraged to gather later that evening for a further celebration of Leo's life.
Friday, December 1st, 2017
Friday, December 1st, 2017
Saturday, December 2nd, 2017
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