Irby Howard Miller

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Irby Howard Miller passed peacefully in his home Dec. 31, 2006, from heart failure.

He joins his wife Ival, son Howard, and daughter Janice in Heaven. He made many friends during his 86 years of life and will be dearly missed.

Irby was born in a logging camp in Benton Hollow, Mo., on July 25, 1920, where his father was a timber man. When he was just a lad of seven, his family moved to a homestead near Craig, as recounted in his book, "The Ozark Clan of Elkhead Creek."

In 1941, Irby married Ival Marie Davidson. The couple had five children. Irby's occupations included farmer, blacksmith, welder, mechanic, police officer and dispatcher for the state patrol.

In 1966, the family moved to Montrose, where he accepted a career position as an electronic technician for the Bureau of Reclamation. After an early retirement, he went back to work in the same capacity for the Colorado State Patrol, eventually retiring again.

Irby was a gifted writer and historian and wrote a column about the good old days called "True Tales" for the Montrose Monitor. His life spanned several eras, and he loved writing about the many changes he had witnessed, contributing stories to several books and a number of magazines, including Steamboat Magazine.

Irby had a brilliant mind and a near-photographic memory and was adept at fixing about anything, from old farm machinery to the latest in computers and electronic gizmos. He was at his happiest when writing on his laptop or working on his ham radio gear, call letters W0RQC, or exploring the backcountry. He spent many a weekend four-wheeling over mountain passes in the San Juans or on back roads in Northwest Colorado.

He also had a passion for railroad history, which meshed well with his love of exploration. He enjoyed making homemade instruments and played guitar with his gospel quartet, the Sonshine Mountaineers.

In his later years, Irby especially enjoyed hanging out and swapping tall tales with his friends, members of what he called the "Old Codgers Club" or the "Liar's Club." Together, they solved many of the world's problems.

Irby will be remembered for his devoted and loving care of his wife Ival during her final years, as well as for his generosity. He was a long-standing member of the Assembly of God Church, where he served as a Board Member for many years.

He is survived by a brother, Leonard Miller of Craig; and three children, Roger Dean Miller and Carole Lynn Altes -- both of Montrose -- and Marjorie Elizabeth Miller of Moab, Utah.

He had seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren. His sister, Maudeline Simpson of Craig, preceded him in death.

Irby's memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12 at Crossroads Victory Worship Center at 515 South Hillcrest Drive in Montrose. The family requests that any memorial contributions be made to the Museum of Northwest Colorado.

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