July 10, 1931-March 6, 2019
James Dennis (Jim) Miller passed away Wednesday, March 6, 2019, at St. James Healthcare from natural causes. James was named for St. James, passed away at St. James on Ash Wednesday. One must wonder if that is more than a coincidence. He was born on July 10, 1931, to Raymond and Josephine (Holland) Miller. He was the second eldest of four children that were raised in Hub Addition in Butte in the shadows of the Anselmo Mine. Jim and his siblings, Raymond (Pidge), JoAnn (Toots), and Donald (Percy) grew up in the Great Depression in the mining city of Butte. For some odd reason, James never received one of those old Butte nicknames like his siblings. Folks just called him Jim. Jim attended Immaculate Conception Church, Lincoln School, and Butte High School. He graduated in 1950. Growing up, Jim started to work to support his family at an early age selling and delivering papers in his early teens. He eventually began working as a laundry delivery driver for local laundry companies which he did through his college years.
In 1951, Jim joined the United States Army where he served as a member of the 9th Infantry Regiment during the Korean War. He was Honorably Discharged from the Army in September of 1953. For his service, he was awarded the Korean Service Medal with four Bronze Stars, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Navy Unit Citation, Korean War Service Medal, and the Korea Presidential Unit Citation. Following his service, Jim attended Western Montana College where he received his Bachelors of Science degree in Secondary Education majoring in Social Studies and minoring in Physical Education and English. At Western, Jim participated in ASWMC Student Government, managed the snack bar, and continued to drive a laundry truck.
Jim took his first teaching job in Drummond, Montana, during the 1957-1958 school year. He taught for four years in Drummond, where he met and later married Lillian Periman in 1961. They later divorced. Jim was hired by the Butte School District to teach U.S. History and Government, a position he often recalled as the “best job in the world” except for when he would have to get his own kids out of trouble. He kept that same job until he retired in January of 1987. During his tenure, Jim was instrumental in pioneering and continuing the Montana Model United Nations program as well as the YMCA Youth in Government program. He was a proud member of the Butte Teachers Union, Montana Federation of Teachers, and American Federation of Teachers. He was a proud Butte Irish Democrat.
Jim was also a bartender in the Mining City. He worked in bars such as the Drift Inn and the Corner Bar. In 1976, Jim’s brothers purchased the Montana Bar on East Park Street. Jim signed on as a bartender and remained their eventually becoming the operator following his brothers’ deaths. He retired from bartending in 1993. He also worked at the Capri Motel.
Jim was a very accomplished pool player as well as bowler. He was a member of the Sunday Night Mixed League at the Winter Garden Lanes for decades. His pool career saw him as an officer of the Butte Independent 8 Ball League during the 1980s and 1990s. Jim was also a member of the Old Ozzie Softball program in Butte. These days, Jim has spent most of his recreational time trying to trick the poker and keno machines at the Lucky You Casino. He looked forward to having lunch every month with his fellow retired Butte High School teachers. He was an avid Boston Celtics, Notre Dame, and New York Yankees fan. He claimed to like the Atlanta Braves against his son’s objections.
In 1977, Jim was one of the original coaches of girls fast pitch softball in Butte. For years following, he coached the Butte Police team in the Northwest Little League Senior Softball program. He was the manager of the 1978 Northwest Senior All Star Team that won the city’s first Senior Little League Softball’s Montana State Championship, competing in the Divisional Tournament in Mount Lake Terrace, Washington.
Jim embodied the virtues of faith and sacrifice. Jim was a faithful member of St. Patrick’s and Immaculate Conception Parishes and served as an usher for many years. His faith provided the foundation for everything he did. His life was spent sacrificing for others, whether his family, friends, or community. He often went without to provide for others. From growing up in the Great Depression helping his mother provide for his siblings, serving his country in the Korean War, and working with wife to raise six kids on a teacher’s salary, providing opportunities for others was always his passion.
Affectionately known as “Grandpa Jimbo”, the pride of Jim’s life has always been being the proud father of six children (Kenneth, Karen, Kevin, Keith, Klaire, and Krista) and the proud grandfather of seven grandchildren (Leann, Kourtney, Jacob, Tanner, Mackenzie, Riley, and Brad). Getting to brag on the accomplishments of his children and grandchildren was always the highlight of his day. He had a unique relationship with each one of them that. Each one began and ended with love.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Raymond and Josephine Miller, his siblings, Raymond and Donald Millerand Joan McEwen, as well as his son, Kenneth Miller. He is also preceded in death by some great teaching friends that he was honored to work with including Steve Reardon, Kenneth Ronning, Dan Harrington, JD Lynch, Herbie Venner, Jim Harrington, John Astle, Tom Tutty, Dan Lean, and many more.
Jim is survived by his daughters and sons-in law, Karen and Kirk Baker of Missoula, and Klaire and Ronald Vogt of Moscow, Idaho; his daughter Krista Criswell of Coeur D’ Alene, Idaho, his son and daughter-in-law Kevin and Kelly Miller of King George, Virginia, and his son, Keith Miller of Butte. He is also survived by numerous nephews, nieces, and cousins.
Jim was especially proud of his surviving grandchildren, Leann Miller of Butte, Kourtney and Jacob Miller of King George, Virginia, Brad Stevens of Butte, Tanner Criswell of Coeur D’ Alene, Idaho, and Mackenzie and Riley Vogt of Moscow, Idaho.
The family will receive guests at St. Patrick’s Church on Monday at 5:00 PM. Parish rosary services will be held at 6:30 PM. The funeral mass will take place at 10:00AM Tuesday at St. Patrick’s Church with Father Patrick Beretta officiating. Burial will take place in the Montana Veteran’s Cemetery at Fort Harrison, Montana following.
The family requests that memorials made in Jim’s name be made to the Butte Educational Foundation, PO Box 3821, Butte, Montana, 59702, or online at www.butteeducationfoundation.org. The family would like to express its sincere appreciation for the service and kindness of the staff of Big Sky Senior Living, Dr. Jake Taverna, the staff at St James Healthcare, the staff of East Middle School, the Administration of Butte School District #1, Butte Teachers Union, Easter Seals, as well as Father Berretta, Father Haffey, and Deacon Uggetti.
“My Father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person. He believed in me.” – Jim Valvano.
Dad, thank you for this gift as well as for being our protector and guardian angel. … Good bye for now.