Pastors' Memoirs

Richard Stephan Miller, 1953-2001

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   After a 14-month battle with multiple myeloma, Richard went to be with his Lord. Survivors include his wife, Loretta; his mother; four brothers; his canine companions, Duke and Scruffy; and a host of friends, colleagues and parishioners. Richard fought his cancer courageously, never once questioning God’s plan for his life. As the illness progressed, Richard’s faith became stronger and his dedication to the Granbery congregation increased as they prayed and cared for him. Although unable to walk the last few months, Richard attempted to maintain daily contact with the members of his church to assure them of God’s abiding love for each of them.

   Richard’s first ministerial appointment was the Peaksview Charge in Bedford, followed by Bayley’s Chapel in Madison Heights. He next served Trinity in North Garden, then as associate pastor at Fairfax United Methodist Church. His last appointment was Granbery in Covington.

   Richard was a witty, charming, and vivacious individual with an abundant amount of energy and zest for life. Extremely gifted intellectually, he graduated magna cum laude from Lynchburg College in 1988, and Duke Divinity School in 1992. Among his many passions was that of reading. Each day he read at least three newspapers and had one of the most up-to-date libraries imaginable. His fun or relaxing activities included golfing, playing his drums, watching inspirational movies, following the Duke University basketball team and standing atop Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine where he always felt renewed, inspired and touched once again by the "hand of God."

Richard was a gifted communicator, teacher and church futurist. Of all the many gifts and talents he possessed, Richard’s greatest was preaching the Word of God and offering inspirational prayers which moved congregations to tears. In the last few months of his life, as he struggled with cancer and chemotherapy, many persons wondered how he was able to walk up the steps to the pulpit on a Sunday morning. Once he began speaking, Richard became electrified; he held everyone spellbound with this magnificent and God-given calling to preach. As Dr. Leonard Sweet said in his eulogy of Richard, he was filled with confidence and humility and an abiding faith which never allowed him to give up, even when the teeth of death had its marks all over his body. He was indeed the "total package" of what a minister should be.

As each person continues to mourn Richard’s death at such an early age, hope, comfort, and promise can be found in the words of Frederick Buechner from "Whistling in the Dark."

"When you remember me, it means

you have carried something of who I am with you,

that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are.

It means that you can summon me back to your mind

Even though countless years and miles

stand between us. . .

It means that even if I die,

you can still see my face and hear my voice

and speak to me in your heart.

For as long as you remember me,

I am never entirely lost."

— Loretta L. Miller and the Granbery Memorial UMC family



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