Burton Lewis Miller was born Feb. 26, 1931, in Oakville, Washington, to Gertrude Dotson Miller and Albert B Miller. He was the oldest child and had three younger sisters: Marilyn, Nadine and Marcia. The family also lived in the Washington cities of Porter, Everett and Elma.
At the age of four, he moved with his parents to the Imperial Hotel (behind what is now Dennis Company in Elma) where his mother was the cook and his father the bartender. He broke his arm and quickly found, if he stood outside cradling his arm, guests would give him pennies and nickels, which he would quickly spend at the nearby bakery. It was a good gig until his mother found out and put an end to his panhandling career.
In 1938, the family moved to Garrard Creek, and he attended a one-room schoolhouse for first and second grade. He was a good student his entire life. In 1941, the family moved to Oakville and then to Elma.
After finishing high school in 1949, he joined the U.S. Navy and went to radio school where he learned Morse Code. At this time, he married Anita Jean Butz. The couple went on to adopt three children: Catherine Mary, Cynthia Marie and Patrick Daniel. The couple divorced in 1972. In 1975, he married Marianne McDougal and gained three stepchildren: Debi, Michaela and Mike. He was thrilled to grow the family and always treated his blended family with the same love and care. He felt he had the best children ever in this mixed bunch. He loved his family, children and grandchildren.
As a young man, he held many jobs, including being on the Elma City Crew. In 1960, he bought and operated Elma Disposal Company, becoming Elma’s own “Dr. of Trashometry.” He sold his business in 1994 to his son, Pat.
Burt was, above all else, a people person. He loved visiting, chatting, and generally shooting the breeze. He could often be seen sitting outside in the sun waiting for someone to stop by for a beer or popsicle. He loved going to the post office and joking with the “girls” who worked there. He was an avid reader and was, in his words, a fountain of useless information. He loved playing Trivial Pursuit against the family and always won. He was a stickler about proper language usage, correcting his friends and family right to the end.
Burt was an amazing father, spending time with his children during a time when most fathers weren’t as involved. He always made one-on-one time with each child, and going on the garbage truck to “help” for the day was a huge treat for his kids and grandkids. He would sing, tell jokes and whistle tunes (he could whistle like no other). The trip on the garbage truck always ended with a fudgsicle or other frozen treat.
Burt’s hobbies were playing poker with the guys, woodworking in his shop, and cracking people up with jokes and bad puns. He was a member of the Eagles and VFW. He loved going to Elma basketball games. He was a volunteer firefighter in Elma for many years. He also coached and umpired Little League. As a business owner, he also sponsored “The Dumpsters,” a T-Ball team.
Burt passed away Sept. 7, 2023, in Montesano, Washington. He is survived by sons, Pat Miller (wife, Kathy) of Elma, and Mike McDougal (wife, Amity) of Rochester, Washington; daughters all of Elma: Cathy Ayres, Cindy Hill (husband, Mike); Debi Scott (husband, Bill) and Michaela Balderston (husband, Rich); 12 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; and sisters Marcia Grace and Nadine Martin. He was preceded in death by his wife, Marianne Miller; and sister, Marilyn Davis.
A celebration of life will be held at the Elma Eagles Club on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, at 12 noon.
Memorial donations may be made to his favorite charities: St Jude Children’s Hospital or Smile Train.
Please share memories at www.FuneralAlternatives.org.