June 16, 1928 - November 13, 2016
Donald Lewis Miller passed away peacefully November 13, 2016 at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center. He passed away due to complications from Parkinson’s disease. He is now united in spirit with his beautiful wife, Betty.
Don was born June 16, 1928 to Lewis and Donna Miller in Bell, Calif. He had two younger sisters who died in their early infancies. His younger years of life were spent in southern California when there were still dirt roads, orchards, fields, and rivers that you could fish. He spent his early childhood on his horse exploring, hunting, and fishing.
The family moved to Grants Pass, Ore. in the early 1930s at the urging of family friends. There, the family started a dairy farm and he learned about milking cows early in the morning before school, something he vowed not to carry into his adult life. He graduated from Grants Pass High School in 1946.
Don met LeRoy Beltz, the brother of his eventual wife, Betty when he was a junior in high School in Grants Pass and they decided to go out riding their horses together. At this meeting he noticed LeRoy’s older sister and asked if she had a boyfriend. LeRoy said that she didn’t and Don asked her out the next week. That was how the romance started that lasted for 64 years until Betty’s death in 2011 from pancreatic cancer. They married June 16, 1947 in Grants Pass, Ore.
Don had many careers over his years, even into his 80s. He was ambitious and was always looking for the next opportunity. He started in banking out of high school and eventually went to work in local mills in Grants Pass where Marilyn and Gary were born. Next, they moved to the Los Angeles area where Don returned to the banking business. Greg and Pamela were born in Whittier, Calif. In 1964 they moved back to Medford, Ore. where they spent the remainder of their lives.
In Medford, Don continued his banking career with Oregon Bank. He started buying rental properties in the late 1960s. In the 1970s he was one of three original partners in the Sun Oaks Condominium project, below the Manor. He eventually sold all the rental properties and opened Elmer’s Restaurant in Medford as a franchisee in 1978. This was one of his proudest achievements and he enjoyed the business immensely, even the long hours it entailed. He eventually opened a second Elmer’s in Grants Pass and built the motel adjacent to that location. He and Betty sold their businesses and retired in 1978. Retirement didn’t last long, as he bought a gift card shop in the mall which he operated for five years and at the age of 85 opened a yogurt shop in the Medford Shopping Center. He carried his entrepreneurial spirit until his death.
Don loved his family. He had four children, Marilyn Bickler (Michael) of Hillsboro, Ore., Gary Miller (Allison) of Beaverton, Ore., Greg Miller (Leslie), of Medford, Ore., and Pamela Grant (Tim) of Medford, Ore. He had 13 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild, with another on the way. Don was preceded in death by his parents; his two younger sisters; his wife, Betty; and his son-in-law, Michael Bickler.
The family would like to thank the staff at Avamere Three Fountains for their care, friendship, and love that they showed to our father. We also owe appreciation to his roommate “Rocky” for watching out for him.
A memorial service will be held at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, December 3, 2016 at the chapel of Perl Funeral Home, 2100 Siskiyou Blvd., Medford, Ore.