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04) Karl "Blue" Miller

Webmaster's Note: Tributes to 'Blue'  keep coming in.  
What a pleasure to honor such an honorable person.




"Aw...shucks, Ma'am"


There are folks who touch our hearts and leave those forever-footprints and memories that always bring a grin.  In fact, his grin was one of those "Aw...shucks, Ma'am" grins that made suppressing one's own literally impossible.  His life experiences from birth to adulthood in Walhalla were ordinary, but he was no ordinary man - son, husband, father, grandfather, Christian, patriot, citizen and friend - Karl 'Blue' Miller is well remembered as extraordinary.   Because he never announced his gifts of self, and would be most embarrassed to read or hear them recounted, many do not know of his generosity.  A man of modest means himself, Blue always found enough money and time to spread surprises and happiness all over Oconee County.  Others have written of his baseball abilities, his expertise in creating barbeque second to none, his encouragement and generosity to the Boy Scouts of America, his faithful attendance and support to many civic projects and his loyalty to sports....all of which are stellar efforts...but it is at this time of year - the wonderful season of Christmas - that memories of Blue rocket to the front of the 'Memory List.'

For many years right around Thanksgiving beautiful, lush trees would appear in the front lot of Harris Sporting Goods and a few other locations under a hand-painted sign that read 'Blue Miller Trees.'   Every tree was planted, tended and cut from his own tree farm.   Surely some extra income was made from the sale of these trees, but one wonders just how much....because many of the best, fullest trees found themselves placed on porches and doorways in homes all around the county that otherwise would not have a tree for Christmas.  No note or identification was ever attached to the tree, and more often than not, a bag of lights and ornaments were left with the tree.....unannounced and usually after dark.  Sometimes small packages would appear with the tree - warm pajamas to fit a toddler, knit caps for cold ears, thick socks or mittens - useful, needed gifts. As word often does make its way around, Blue would be asked about the gifts of trees to which there was only that "Aw... shucks, Ma'am" grin and a quick change of conversation.

For many years his trees graced the sanctuaries of local churches used as crismon trees in Christmas worship services.  In many Oconee County School classrooms 'Blue Miller Trees' were lovingly adorned with handmade ornaments and colorful paper chains.  No one 'oohed or aahed' over those decorations louder or prouder than Blue who made it a point to visit the schools.  This writer was blessed several times with his trees and visits as his grand-children progressed through the school system and saw first-hand not just his generosity, but the visible effect of joy he had on all children. He had but to knock on the classroom door and an invisible electricity zapped through the air..."Mr. Blue is here! Mr. Blue is here!" With every visit or volunteer session, Blue always had words of wisdom: "Obey God and your parents. Go to church. Remember that there's no right way to do a wrong thing. Stay in school.  Find something you can do and do it with all your heart. " Simple words from a simple man. Words to keep a young heart, mind and body on the right path. Words for us all and for all generations.

Thank you, Karl 'Blue' Miller....thank you.


 
 Karl “Blue” Miller

No one deserves the honor of being called unsung hero more than Karl “Blue” Miller.  He did so much for so many people – most under the public radar and with the 

purist motives.  Few knew of the kids he clothed and fed (literally) year after year none of whom were his own?  He’d visit elementary schools during the school year as a

resource person (representing his tree farm) and you knew within just days after his visit several needy kids would receive new clothes, shoes, and anonymous letters of

encouragement the rest of the year.  He and his wife, Annie, will find many rewards in Heaven for their giving just in Oconee County.  Each year he sponsored at least

one child to go on the school trip to Washington.   In addition he donated at least one fundraiser event – his famous barbeque – which always raised at least several 

thousand dollars for support of the school trip to Washington.


Karl’s father was known as “Sarge” and was in charge of the local draft board.


 

 
 
“TRIBUTE TO A MAN WE FONDLY CALLED BLUE”

 

     Karl “Blue” Miller was truly a good friend of mine. Although distance had separated us the last 45-years, we quite often stayed in touch by phone and our paths crossed many times when I visited him in Walhalla. Nonetheless a bonded relationship between us formed early on and was fully grounded to the end. In fact, I spoke to him on the phone several weeks before he died and his parting words were, “I love you big guy.” I then replied, “I love you too Blue. Take care!” No unfinished business to resolve between us with those two parting statements.

     When my daughter Kimberly Abbott called to tell me my good friend Blue had died, I was saddened immensely most likely the same way unexpected shocking news had traveled into the countless thousands of other homes, through either word of mouth or by phone or email lines, after hearing about his untimely death.

     The first memories I have of Blue probably occurred around 1950 when he lived in a big white house on the Coffee Road just down from the Finkenstadt residence. His father, who we respectfully called “Sarge,” drove a shiny light blue Dodge and always parked it beside their house in the yard.

      I knew Blue played on the Walhalla Razorback football team since my cousin Patsy Callahan had taken me to their home games the season before.

Although it’s been 55-plus years, I remember Blue liked to spend time peering from his airy porch. He’d propped up his elbows in a V-shape position on the banister of his two-story home and let the palms of his hands nestle on his jaw bones that supported his dark black head of hair during the hot “dog days” of August in between early morning and late afternoon football practice.  As a youngster, I viewed in awe any person who was a roster player for the Razorbacks. At my early age, all Razorback football players were considered my heroes. I cannot remember the first “Most Valuable Substitute” the Razorbacks ever had, but I remember who won this award around 1952…Blue Miller.

     I can also remember Blue walking his future wife Annie Hughes after school down the side walk on Main Street past the Strand Theater and Harry Norman’s Drug Store. He’d walk Annie past Dawson Addis’ house on the corner, take a right and take the short cut toward Norton’s Shoe Shop next to the railroad tracks by the Chicopee Mill on the way to her house on the mill village just above the baseball field. Annie’s brother, Billy Hughes, was another hero of mine when I was in grammar school. He was a Friday night star for the Razorback football team and later played baseball as an infielder for the “Chicopee Chix” mill team in the local textile league.

     Blue was an icon not because of his nickname but because of his caring personality. He loved life and helping others. He never rushed or was in a hurry. Although he resided in the Eastern Time Zone, he lived on “Blue Miller Time.” He focused on the interest of others, especially our youth, always conveying their concerns and always exhorted their accomplishments. He revealed humanness, warmth and genuine demeanor and selflessly gave to others his time and energy. He had a Ph.D. in always being “sincere.” He went on many church missions to improve the quality of life for those less fortunate. Blue did this from the heart and not for fame or personal recognition. He was an avid supporter of Chix baseball games, high school sponsored events, city recreation sports leagues, and he supported the Boy Scouts. He believed wholeheartedly in the Golden Rule and always modeled good citizenship. He never focused on one’s failures but always squeezed out the last drop of success and had the innate magic to motivate a person for bigger plans to aim for higher aspirations.

     Noble is a word that describes Blue. His mere presence always demanded respect. Many times I have been in Neville’s Hardware or Kent Todd’s Paint Store and hear several customers speak in unison, "Here comes Blue” as he pulled up in his pickup truck. He looked on life as yesterday is gone, tomorrow is only a promise and today is all we have so spend it wisely. Will Rogers once said, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” Well I can honestly say I never met anyone who did not like Blue Miller.

     Blue was a simple man to describe. Most of the time he could be seen wearing a ball cap tilted back on this head camouflaging a neatly cut flat top, an exact copy from a card board pictorial demo on the wall in Claude Sloan’s and later Joe Holden’s Barber Shop. He loved to wear sleeveless shirts, carried a half cracked smile and projected an illuminating bright-eyed twinkle. One side of his jaw jutted out as if it was pregnant from the pain of a swollen tooth about to give birth to an abscess. Close at hand was always his paper cup or aluminum can as his chosen spittoon of the day to discard the brownish liquid from the tightly pressed lips of his mouth.

     In 1968 while stationed at Sewart AFB in Tennessee, I registered for a college course with the local university on base. The woman at the registration desk then said, “If you have any questions call this four digit number.” I looked at the small slip of paper she had written on and gave it back to her then replied, “I don’t need to remember this ma’am because that’s Blue Miller’s number back home,” and walked off leaving her looking stunned. I later told Blue about the memory and we shared a laugh.

     Walhalla is known as the “Garden of the Gods” but the city can also be proud of being the hometown of one of its favorite sons…the man we fondly called Blue.

 

                                                                     From A Good Friend,

 

                                                                     Jim Sanders, III

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