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John Miller 1943-2017

It is with heavy hearts we pass along the news that our industry has lost a pioneer. John Miller, founder of DIVCON, father of TCA past president Shane Miller and 2017 recipient of the Murray Parker Memorial Award, passed away Friday in Spokane, WA at the age of 74. His obituary is below.

John Griffith Miller was born on July 1, 1943, to Aaron and Miriam Miller in Grafton, North Dakota. He grew up in Waterloo, Iowa with his older brother William (Bill) GG Miller. John passed away on Dec. 16, 2017, in Spokane, WA at the age of 74. He was preceded in death by his parents and older brother.

John’s focus throughout his career was construction and development. His love of construction began in high school, working for the John G. Miller Construction Company, founded by his grandfather, in Waterloo, Iowa.

He was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity at Iowa State University. John married the love and partner of his life, Sue Thielen, on June 18, 1966. He graduated in 1967 from Iowa State in Business Administration and used that knowledge to continue to build on his passion for the construction industry.

John was drafted into the army and was attached to 5th Special Forces Group in Vietnam. Upon his return from Vietnam, John and Sue moved to California. In 1973 they moved to Spokane, WA, where they founded DIVCON, Inc. in 1976. Starting from nothing in the garage of their home they built a successful construction company that continues today at the DIVCON World Headquarters in Pinecroft Business Park. John lived the mantra, “Find a job that you love, and you will never work a day in your life.” He would proudly tell people, “I retired the day I founded DIVCON.”

Known as John, Johnny G, Little John, Big John, Papa, Mr. Grumbles and Dad, to all, he was simply Friend. John could be found almost every morning with his “spit and whittle” cronies at breakfast. For over 40 years, they solved the world’s problems from that table in the middle of Rosauers.

John was a dreamer and a builder of people. He believed that with hard work and consistent effort everyone can win. He took this belief and attitude with him as he worked with all walks of life; mentoring, guiding and supporting those who engaged with him.

John adored his wife, Sue, and was absolutely devoted to his family. He was so proud of his three children, and delighted in helping each of them develop their careers and their knowledge in the construction and development industries. His youngest grandson loved riding on the tractor and working in the garden with Papa. His only granddaughter loved talking with Papa while he cooked her waffles. As his older three grandsons have grown, his advice and honest conversations have helped to build them into young men that strive to emulate his work ethic and integrity.

Although he would humbly say, “I’m just an Iowa farm boy,” it was with a twinkle in his eye. His vision and expertise led to many successful construction and development projects. He was both honored and recognized by his peers. He was a founding member and past president of the Spokane Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors. He served on various state and local boards. Most recently, John was awarded the national Tilt-Up Concrete Association Murray Parker Memorial Award for Innovation in Tilt-up Concrete.

John and Sue loved to travel. There wasn’t a back road they wouldn’t take, always exploring a new path. He loved maps and documented all the roads he and Sue had travelled. Family trips are remembered through photos not only of landscapes and people, but also of buildings. He would say, “A picture is worth at least $10,000 in architectural fees!” John and Sue’s travels took them to Guatemala, Mexico, Europe and all over the US. Sedona, Arizona was a favorite destination where John could truly unwind.

John is survived by his wife of 51 years, Susan (Sue); his three children: Shane Miller (Catherine and grandchildren Elijah, Tucker, Milo), Tanya Miller, Jamie Traeger (Bill and grandchildren Amelia, Nolan); all of Spokane.

Sue would like to thank the response team and paramedics of Colbert, WA as well as the caring and dedicated staff at Sacred Heart Medical Center’s Cardiac Critical Care Unit, especially nurses Rose and Kali who helped the family navigate through the unexpected journey of John’s passing.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in John’s name to a charity of your choice or one of the following: Spokane County Fire District 4 Volunteer Firefighters Association (3219 E Chattaroy Rd, Chattaroy, Washington 99003). Donations will be used to provide additional AED Defibrillators or other needed equipment. Providence Health Care Foundation, Eastern Washington (101 W Eighth Ave, Spokane, WA 99204). Donations will be directed to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Sacred Heart Medical Center.

A service and celebration of life will be held on Thursday December 28, 2017, at 1:30pm at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 3720 E Colbert Rd, Colbert, WA 99005. A casual reception following the service will provide the opportunity to share your memories of John.

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TILT-UP TODAY, a publication of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, is THE source for Tilt-Up industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the Tilt-Up industry. A subscription to TILT-UP TODAY is included in a TCA membership. Subscriptions for potential TCA members are also available. If you would like to receive a complimentary subscription to the publication, please contact the TCA.