11/04/2019 - Casper, WY, USA
Michael Miller, 78, of Gillette died of natural causes Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, at Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital in Casper.
Funeral services begin at 1 p.m. Friday at Gillette Memorial Chapel with the Rev. Ernie Bishop officiating.
Mr. Miller was born Sept. 29, 1941, in Buffalo. He was raised on the family ranch, Crazy Woman, east of town and attended school in Buffalo.
He graduated from Johnson County High School in 1959. He attended Casper College on a rodeo scholarship until he needed to return to work on the ranch. He continued the family ranch business for another 13 years, after which he went into the heavy construction business.
He and his wife, Pat, and three small children moved to Gillette, where he made working with machinery and construction his career until he retired in 2012.
He loved ranching, and in particular loved all things to do with horses. He loved to ride and train horses, his all-time passion being rodeoing and roping.
He became a very good “heeler” and went to many rodeos around the state with his father, Russ Miller or Gary Duncan as his favorite “headers.” If he couldn’t be in the rodeo arena, he loved to go fishing in the Big Horn Mountains.
Being a typical Basque, he loved the people he worked with, especially the sheepherders at the ranch and all his roping and ranching friends. He loved to laugh, he loved to tease and very seldom did you see him without a smile on his face or hear a laugh that invariably turned heads.
He was very proud of his heritage and was the apple of his grandmother, Dominica Esponda’s, eye. He loved his family and was his dad’s best friend.
In the later years of his life, he enjoyed driving around the countryside, especially the hills of Powder River and the mountains that he loved so much in his youth. He was very much a person “of the land” and the memories that it held for him.
He loved being involved in the ventures of his children who remained living in the area. His daughter, Toni, and her dogs, his son, Mike’s rodeo career and his recent “sheep ranch” of 40 some acres.
“Stumpy,” as he was affectionately known after losing his thumb in a fencing accident, enjoyed spending his afternoons in his “office” at the Fireside Bar with many of his friends. Everyone who knew him loved him. His smile and his laugh were infectious.
His good looks broke many hearts and if you were lucky enough to be called his friend, you were fortunate indeed.
He was tough, a cowboy to the core and his motto was, “When things get too tough for everybody else, they’re just right for us Basque-o’s.”
Mike is survived by three children in the Brea, California, area, Marty Helms, Kevin Miller, Dixie Miller; his son, Chris Miller of Buffalo; daughter, Toni Pompura of Casper; sons, Mike Miller Jr. and Shawn Miller of Gillette; sister, Kate Miller of Buffalo; and brother, Pat Miller of Belleville, Illinois.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Patricia Hill Miller; and parents, Grayce and Russ Miller.
Memorials and condolences may be sent in care of Gillette Memorial Chapel, 210 W. Fifth St., Gillette, WY 82716.
Condolences also may be expressed at gillettememorialchapel.com or attached to the obituary at gillettenewsrecord.com.
(obituary published in Gillette News Record on November 7, 2019)