Heaven opened its arms to welcome a wonderful man, Lavern Charles Miller, 91, of Williston, ND who passed away early on February 4 at CHI St. Alexius Hospital in Williston at the blessed age of 91.
LaVern was born to Charles and May (Horob) Miller on June 26, 1926. They had seven children, LaVern being the second. He grew up on the family farm in Bull Butte Township where he would come to live and work his entire life.
LaVern attended country school at the Old Grimes Schoolhouse, which is now a building on the farm yard. Despite being waylaid by a torrential rain storm which required chains on their old Chevy to get through the mud, he and his sister Verna were, much to the pride of Charlie & May, first in their family to receive high school diplomas as members of the Williston High School graduating class of 1943.
It has been said that life is measured in seasons of love, and LaVern had seasons and seasons of love. In 1952, he married Dorothy Lee, and together they had five daughters, Debra, Christy, Stephanie, and the twins, Karla and Kari. In 1984, LaVern married Lillian Keenan, and they enjoyed over 30 years of adventures and made many delightful memories. LaVern treasured his family: his daughters & their spouses and grandchildren, his sisters, brother, aunts, uncles & cousins, and his beloved Lillian and the extended family of loved ones she brought to their marriage all of whom enriched his life.
LaVern lived life to the fullest. Many remember his gift for storytelling. He loved to recount events of days gone by, but he was also a voracious reader of books and newspapers which kept him up-to-date on local, national and world events. LaVern always had a joke or two up his sleeve that he generously shared, especially favoring the Ole and Lena genre. He himself initiated the laughter at the end of the joke no matter how many times he delivered the punchline. He was a good neighbor and a kind person who blessed many with his regular telephone calls, friendly greetings, interesting stories, and soft handshakes. Everyone who met him was touched by his tender-hearted spirit often expressed in a simple thank-you, a God bless you, or a “How are you today, my friend?”
He was a humble man who loved his church including his special pew where he gained many new spiritual friends over the years. He became a regular at Williston’s Banquet West entertaining both new and old friends and served as an active volunteer in 1st Lutheran’s annual Lutefisk dinners where he was on the potato peeling, cabbage grinding, and ticket-taking crews.
LaVern was an outstanding and dedicated farmer. He worked hard, picked a lot of rocks, and championed stewardship of his North Dakota farmstead. And even though retired from farming, farming never left him. He was the consummate tour guide who took every opportunity to share his love of the land on many drives to the country with captive audiences of friends, family, and acquaintances. As recently as last week, he took a solo drive on a sunny day out to the farm just to check things out.
Surviving LaVern are his daughters, Debra Miller of Englewood, CO; Christy (John Newlander) Miller of Laguna Beach, CA; Stephanie (Oliver) Buseth of Grand Forks, ND, Kari (Jim) Klug) of Williston, ND and Karla (Liz Thurston) Miller of Boston, MA; grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Ryan (Bethany) Quarne and their sons, Gabriel and Finnian; and Shaemus Klug of Williston, ND; sisters Charlotte (Harold) Tofte, Linda (Del Domres) Bjella both of Williston, Betty (Larry) Cote of Glasgow, MT, and brother Ronald (Shirley) of Williston; along with numerous nieces and nephews. Lavern also deeply loved the many step grandchildren and great-grandchildren he shared with Lillian.
Preceding LaVern in death were his grandson Aric Quarne; and his sisters Verna Butzloff and Delores Skaare.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his memory to Upper Missouri Ministries or the Williston Coyote Foundation.