William Roger Miller passed away on June 7 in Missoula, Mont.
Known as Roger, he was born on Sept 10, 1937 at the Grand Apartments in Gunnison. He was the third of six children born to Doris (Hansen) and J. Ray Miller. In 1941, the family moved just around the corner from the Grand to a house on W. Virginia. He graduated from Gunnison County High School in 1955, where he played football and basketball. He liked playing football best as he could hit people without his Mom yelling at him. Roger attended Western State College until 1957, when he was drafted into the Army. He was at White Sands, N.M., where he saw several missiles launched. After his discharge from the Army in 1959, he returned to Gunnison, earning a degree in geology and physics at Western State. Here he met Esther Bakken, of Royal Oak, Mich.
In Gunnison he worked as a Night Police Dispatcher and worked for the Forest Service in the summer. Roger moved to East Lansing, Mich., in 1962, married Esther Bakken in 1963, and earned a Masters Degree in geology/geophysics from Michigan State University in 1964. Roger and Esther moved to Mineola, N.Y., where Roger worked with the U.S. Geological Survey.
In 1966, Roger and Esther welcomed their first daughter, “Kristi.” USGS moved Roger to Billings, Mont., in 1967 and in 1968, Esther and Roger welcomed their second daughter, Dana.
Roger authored and co-authored several publications for the USGS. In 1977, Roger and Esther divorced, and Roger became a single dad raising Kristi and Dana. In 1979, Roger married Peg Wilkins. In 1980, Roger, Peg and the girls moved to Casper, Wyo., where he took a job with Gulf Oil. From 1985 to 1993 Roger worked as a consulting geologist specializing in geohydrology in Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota.
Roger and Peg divorced in 1987. After this, Roger called his sister Pat and complained that he was a two-time loser. Sister Pat was wise and told him to cheer up and to consider himself a two-time winner instead and perhaps joining a church would lift his spirits. He took Pat’s suggestion and joined the First Christian Church in Casper, and sang in the choir there. He met fellow choir member Cecelia Rodgers, and they were married in 1990.
In 1993, Roger was hired as a petroleum geologist with the Bureau of Land Management. Roger was instrumental in establishing a professional licensing system for geologists in Wyoming and wrote a few guide books for the Wyoming Geological Association. Roger retired in 2007 and became caregiver for Cecelia, whose health was declining. In 2011, Roger and Cecelia moved to Missoula, Mont., to an assisted living apartment to receive help for Cecelia. In 2015 Cecelia, who was the love of Roger’s life, passed away.
Roger was a man of great faith, and he loved his family, and we loved him. Although he liked to call himself a Grump, Roger had a great sense of humor, and was always good for a joke or a story. He was pleased when his grandchildren referred to him as Grumpa.
Roger is preceded in death by his wife, Cecelia; his parents, Doris and J. Ray Miller; brother Lynvale Miller; sister Janet McDonald; and first wife, Esther Bakken Speidel. He is survived by his daughters, Kristine (Roy) Handley of Clinton, Mont., and Dana (Todd) Lash of North Huntingdon, Pa.; grandchildren Roy William and Ryan Handley, Demi and Spencer Lash, Shante (Brandon) Hutton of Ontario and great-granddaughter Lilliana Hutton; sisters Pat Williams of Gunnison, Diana Thurmond of Westminster, Colo.; brother Loren Miller of Las Vegas, Nev., and many loved nieces and nephews.
Two memorial services for Roger will be held: July 13 at 11 a.m. at the First Christian Church in Missoula, Mont., and July 16 at 2 p.m. at Highland Cemetery in Casper, Wyo., with a reception following at Casper’s First Christian Church. Friends and family are invited to attend both services. Memorials can be made to Central Wyoming Rescue Mission, The Gideons, or First Christian Churches of Casper and Missoula.