The council chambers at City Hall in Cortez were packed Saturday afternoon with people wanting to honor late councilman Tim Miller.
More than 100 people attended the service, including several other council members and city staff along with Miller’s two daughters and their families. Miller died of natural causes on Dec. 27 after almost two years on the council, and his family chose to open his memorial service to the public. Several people came forward throughout the service to share memories of Miller, whom they described as a good father and husband, a hard-working soldier and businessman, and a devout Christian.
Miller’s daughter Wendy Eytchison said the city of Cortez offered the council chambers as a location for the memorial service because of Miller’s work there as a councilman.
“He was so proud to be on the council,” she said. “It was very important for him.”
But the service mainly focused on other aspects of Miller’s life, like his more than 50-year marriage to his late wife, Jo Anna. Their daughter Hattie Miller read from some of the letters Miller wrote to Jo Anna while he was deployed in the Vietnam War.
“When this year is over, we will never be separated again,” one of the letters read. “We’ll spend the rest of our lives making each other happy in our little world of love.”
The Millers remained together until Jo Anna’s death in October 2017.
TL Roofing, a Durango-based contractor company owned by friends of the Miller family, paid for appetizers to be served outside the chambers, catered from The Farm Bistro in Cortez. During the service, attendees looked at pictures from throughout Miller’s life, his Purple Heart medal from combat in Vietnam and other mementos. Hattie Miller sang his favorite hymn, “How Great Thou Art,” and Eytchison’s husband, Matt, sang a rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence,” which Miller came to enjoy toward the end of his life.
Although many city officials, including Mayor Karen Sheek, attended the service, most of them stayed quiet and let the family members speak. In the weeks following Miller’s death, though, several people who served with him on the council spoke of his willingness to work with others, even though he often disagreed with them, and his quickness to admit when he had made a mistake.
A recurring theme in all the family’s memories of Miller was his love for others, which they said always drove his actions despite his sometimes abrasive personality. His granddaughter, Sadie Christensen, said he often shared Job, his favorite book of the Bible, with her during hard times.
“He was the kind of person who always had everybody’s back,” she said. “He would read me this story and sit there and talk about how, through the most painful things, the most beautiful things come out of it.”