Obituary for James Miller
It is with great sadness that the family of James J. (Jim) Miller, Sr. (husband of the late Brenda Benda Miller) of Dubuque, Iowa announces his passing, on October 7, 2017, at the age of 88. He was born at home on October 3, 1929 and graciously died at home surrounded by his family.
Friends and Relatives of Jim may call from 3:00 PM – 7:00 PM, Friday, October 13 at Nativity Church on 1001 Alta Vista St in Dubuque, IA. The funeral mass will also be at Nativity Church on Saturday, October 14 at 10:00 AM. Reverend Jim Miller and Deacon Dave McGee will officiate the mass followed by the burial at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Key West, Iowa.
Jim is survived by and lovingly remembered by his family brother: Charles L. Miller (Charlie), sister-in-law: Thelma Loes, his children: Meg Miller (Minneapolis, MN), Betzy Miller (Tacoma, WA), JJ Miller, Jr. (Alpine, TX), D’Arcy Figuracion (Minneapolis, MN) and Bart Miller (Houston, TX); and his grandchildren: Frankie Torrey, Alyce Torrey, James D. (Chelsea) Miller, Jessica (Clay) Brauch, James J Miller, III, Brenda Miller, Nicholas Miller, Kevin Miller, Travis Figuracion, Grace Miller and Abigail Miller; and his great grandchildren: Riley, Addyson, Ronix, Roczen, and J Monster. He leaves behind beloved nieces, nephews, friends, and colleagues.
Jim was preceded in death by his wife: Brenda Benda Miller, son: Samuel Miller, parents: Margaret K. (Sullivan) and Erwin J. Miller, his brother: Daniel Miller, and sister: Mary Miller Schurb; sisters-in-law: Beth (Dan) Miller, Jean Bisanz (Charlie) Miller, brothers-in-law: Joseph Schurb, Rev. John Benda, Rev. Francis Benda, Edward Benda (Thelma), Gene Loes (Thelma); and in-laws: Dr. Thomas and Margaret Benda.
Jim enjoyed growing up in this historic city nestled in the great bluffs of the Tri-State area. He spent 86 years in Dubuque, with a 2-year side trip to Peoria, IL. Because Jim’s father worked for the Milwaukee Railroad, he and his family visited New York City, New Orleans, California, and many other cities coast-to-coast. His childhood was filled with making friends, taking long train rides to visit relatives while seeing the countryside. He even watched the newly released Wizard of Oz in 1939 in Omaha, Nebraska for a nickel.
He graduated from Loras Academy in 1947 and then Loras College in the 1950s after serving in the Korean War. His two years of military service included Fort Jackson (SC), Fort Bliss (TX) and Camp Hanford (WA). Some of whom he met, remained friends up until his death.
His work experiences are rich with stories, learnings and people. At the age of ten he set pins for the Holy Trinity bowling alley – at four and a half cents a lane. He spent time in various restaurants cooking the cuisine of the day, whether at Timmerman’s, Ring’s, the Paige, Sutter’s Bakery, Clarke University, or for family and friend events. He and Brenda, drove the cook wagon and cooked three meals a day for the Colts Drum & Bugle Corp for nine summers. His finesse and skill created numerous delectable dishes, meals and feasts for all who had a pleasure to indulge.
He met his sassy and savvy wife and then wed several years later at Nativity Church in 1957. Together they taught thousands of children and adults of Dubuque. Jim started out at Lincoln School (Health and Physical Education), transitioned to Holy Ghost, Hempstead and then Jones Junior High School (Math). He then finished his career at the spry age of 85 at Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) (Math). Interspersed throughout all of this, his work journey included selling cleaning products, insurance, household products, and gizmos. He tried his hand at Oky Doky as a clerk and as an unexpected adventure met Sylvester Stallone and was encouraged to try out as an extra in the movie, “Fist”, set in Dubuque. Jim was cast in the role of union buster.
Two main values Jim lived and modeled were working hard and volunteering with sincerity. His motto was ‘do more than was expected’ and ‘always give to those who would benefit from his over-abundance’.
His volunteer efforts were vast and varied. He and Brenda taught CCD, housed mothers from Catholic Charities, welcomed children through Operation Friendship (Chicago), and marching members of the Colts. Throughout the years he also served dinners at Nativity School, Christmas dinners in Spillville, Iowa, the Dubuque Fellowship club (where he was a lifetime member), and for the parish priests. He even welcomed, through sibling coercion, his brother Charlie’s help to join in on the fun.
He also spent his passions through involvement in the American Legion as Third Vice Chair (retired), Boy’s State and various other efforts. He spent several times a week at the Dubuque Rescue Mission serving meals. Several of his children and grandchildren also joined him in giving back what they had been so generously been given. For many years, he ushered at 6:30 morning mass at Nativity Church, guiding the regulars and welcoming new parishioners and visitors.
All are welcome to attend and celebrate Jim’s life and the loving affect he left us. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to ‘Colts Drum & Bugle Corp’, ‘Hospice of Dubuque’, and ‘Dubuque Rescue Mission’ all of Dubuque, IA.
We leave behind a man who was genuine, sincere, kind, and humble. He inspired many of us in ways that will last throughout our lives. We are all blessed to have had the honor to live with a loving man.
The family would like to thank the Hospice of Dubuque (Katie, Melanie, Emily, Diane, Barb, Cindy, Ryan and those who participated in the Veteran’s Honorary Pinning), Dr. Tom and Anne Benda, and all those who joined our Dad at his Celebration of Life ceremony.
We thank all of you who have offered our Dad and us the support and love over the years.
The Millers: Meg, Betzy, JJ, D’Arcy and Bart