Funeral Mass will be held Friday, June 15 at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Cle Elum at 11:00 a.m. A reception will follow at the Eagles.
I was born in Roslyn, Washington, on November 11, 1929, weighing 11 pounds, 11 ounces—pretty big. I was the son and grandson of coal miners and carpenters and had the deep, proud Scottish roots of my ancestors. As a kid, my buddies and I would be gone for hours on the sand rocks above town wearing holes in our pants, hunting rabbits with our .22’s to give to the neighbor lady, or having Dad and Mom drop us off at Salmon la Sac so we could run up the trail to Cooper Lake with only our bedrolls. We had our stash of tools and raft-making equipment buried in canvas and we’d spend the weekend with day hikes to the glaciers on the Three Queens and into Spectacle Lake. No need to bring food—we fished and ate what we caught. Sometimes we fished the Cooper River all the way back down. I loved the family time spent at Salmon la Sac with my parents, relatives, and friends and returned there countless times as an adult with my own kids.
I attended Roslyn and Cle Elum schools for my first 12 years and was pretty active in school and sports. I worked for a bit in the coal mines, spent a little time at SeaFirst bank living on my own in Seattle when I was 17, then earned my teaching degree from Central Washington College of Education in 1954. Off I went to Grandview where I was a junior high social studies teacher, counselor, and coach until 1961 when I became assistant principal of Grandview Junior High. We started the Variety Show for the junior high students during this time—everything was about the kids. I managed the Lower Yakima Valley Fair, helped with the Jaycees, and was a Kiwanis board member. I spent 25 years as the principal and finally retired in 1990. During that time I was president of the Washington State Junior High School Principal’s Association and the Association of Washington School Principals and served for three years on the National Curriculum Committee of NASSP in Washington D.C. After I retired, I was a member of the Cle Elum-Roslyn School Board for about 14 years. I loved being involved in schools and with the kids.
The Navy called me in 1949 and I served my year on the U.S.S. Valley Forge, an aircraft carrier, as a tail gunner on a plane. I was good enough to be able to play a little minor league ball in the Padres organization. I loved the sounds and smells of Sunday baseball at the Roslyn ballpark—people lined the field, packed the stands, and sat across the creek in the cheap seats. It was truly a family affair. Remember the Roslyn Stars? Somewhere along the way I found time to court Joan Smergut from Cle Elum and we were married in 1958. My son Rick was born in 1960 and daughter Rosalyn in 1969. After my teaching career was going, our family spent summers at the cabin we built on Lake Cle Elum in 1965. Baseball turned to fastpitch softball and I threw for McNight Motors. We old-timers were able to mentor many of the kids who went on to form their own teams.
I loved to bird hunt, fish, and in general, just be outdoors. I taught my son that you could catch a fish from the Salmon la Sac River with line no thicker than a hair and a microscopic hook with a single egg (I used to live in Mrs. Pautzke’s house in Ellensburg for a while at college). My kidneys gave me a little trouble starting about 1988 and I began dialysis in 1991. I really started racking up miles on my rigs as Joan and I traveled to Yakima three times a week. On the way to our doctor visits I was able to wonder aloud why people drove the way they did and offered continued help and suggestions. I was blessed with a new kidney in 1993 and I used the heck out of it for 25 years. Life was really pretty good to me. Joan and I were involved in many community activities after we retired and moved back home to Roslyn--the Eagles, Tanda Club, The Heritage Club, The Croatian Picnic, and the Retired Teachers Association. I spent many an hour mowing and gardening at the Red Man Lodge in the Roslyn Cemetery where my parents’ markers are. Joni and I loved our weekly rides to Salmon la Sac and Red Bridge and Teanaway. Visiting with friends and family was a full-time job during my retirement—everyone was always welcome at the house and there was always a cold beer in the fridge . . . or coffee . . . whichever.
I am survived by my wife Joan of Roslyn, son Rick and wife Cindy of Malott, daughter Rosalyn of Ellensburg; 4 grandchildren, Sara Miller and Caitlin Gutierrez of Spokane Valley, and Coulson and Brynne O’Donnell of Ellensburg, and 1 great grandson Manuel Gutierrez of Spokane. I was preceded in death by my grandson Logan and my parents Gordon and Ethel Miller.
A funeral mass will be held Friday, June 15 at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Cle Elum at 11:00 a.m. A reception will follow at the Eagles.
Memorial contributions in Rich's honor are suggested to a forthcoming scholarship fund in his name, c/o CWU Foundation, 421 N. Main Street, Ellensburg, Washington 98926. Cascade Funeral Home of Cle Elum has been entrusted with funeral arrangements. Online condolences may be left at www.cascadefuneralhome.com