Obituary: Leonard Eugene Miller |

Obituary: Leonard Eugene Miller

June 29, 1951 – March 6, 2023

Gene, Turk or Geno as he was known at different times of his life was born in Sterling, Colorado where his dad was employed by a seismograph drilling company plotting the mineral riches of northeastern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming and southwestern Nebraska. He was accompanied by his folks, brother and cousins who worked and travelled together. As he grew older, his folks settled in Craig where he completed all of his secondary schooling.
Summer vacations were usually camping and fishing trips spent with the Pankey cousins in the high country around Hahn’s Peak well before Steamboat Lake was ever even thought of! Two weeks of catching and frying stream trout along with numerous excursions throughout the forests were highlights of the times. The occasional road trips to Lander Wyoming to see grandparents and more family were also very special.
Gene developed an interest in sports at an early age playing summer league baseball in Craig. He loved the catcher’s position and really enjoyed beating the batter to first base presumably to back up the first baseman but also intimidating the batter a bit! In later years he learned to love football and basketball. As a Junior at Moffat County High, he played wide receiver and defensive end for the “Buckskin and Beans” team that became runner up champions in Colorado State AA competition. In doing so, he played a part in installing a new Colorado set of rules involving travel for high school athletic teams. That year, the Craig team won their conference then traveled to Olathe to play the SW league champion where they won. The next weekend they travelled to Las Animas to take on the SE league champ which they won. That propelled then into the state championship game where they travelled to Julesburg to play the NE league champ. Rule changes came soon after! No high school teams are to travel long distance two weeks in a row.
The basketball era was a mixed time for Gene. They had very talented teams but each year narrowly missed getting to the state level. At times on the basketball floor, and probably elsewhere, Gene developed his trademark turkey walk which he loved to display in public…to the amusement of everyone! His last home basketball game he was asked to led the team out of the locker room! He did, but with thumbs locked in his armpits, arms flapping and head bobbing in a jerking manner and very high accented steps, he lead them out doing the turkey trot and was followed by all his teammates also doing the trot! Gene was voted All Conference Awards both his Junior and Senior years. His senior year he was honored by receiving the Dude Dent Award recognizing his athletic and academic successes at MoCoHi. Gene also played cornet and French Horn in the High School Band.
He played one year of college basketball at Adams State College in Alamosa.
Gene went to work for the Silengo Coal Company shortly after his return to Craig and worked his way to a Foreman’s position. When the company relocated to the Cameo mine near Grand Junction he followed. On December 31, 1975, Gene married Judy Terrell and they were eventually honored with two sons, Nicholas and Matthew. Gene loved watching his boys grow and never missed a baseball or basketball game they were involved in. He also rarely missed a MoCoHi game that was being played in the Grand Junction area.
Another company move to Trinidad brought a tragic change to Gene’s life. After surviving a mine cave-in collapse that resulted in several casualties and a fatality, Gene spent several weeks in a coma. Recovering, he re-learned how to sit, stand, talk, walk, read and eventually earning a new driver’s license! His doc’s encouraged him to work crossword puzzles, a skill he continued to his last day. He also made sure he was home every afternoon to watch Jeopardy!
The highlight of Gene’s summer was his annual steak fry. This gathering of neighbors he did odd jobs for, his former high school teammates and family was his way of saying thank you. He loved that everyone got together and enjoyed storytelling and laughter.
He was preceded by both sets of grandparents, his parents, Leonard and Velma (Ginger) Miller and is survived by his sons Nicholas (Kathy) of El Jebel, CO and Matthew (Rebecca) and two grandchildren, Billy and Elizabeth of Minneapolis MN. Also surviving are brother Gary (Terry) of Grand Junction/Ouray, CO and sister Deb Earls of Fruita, CO as well as many nephews, nieces, close cousins and many, many friends.
At his request, there will be no services. He will be missed! Calhan-Edfast Funeral Home in Grand Junction are assisting the family.

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