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Mark Michael Miller

December 23, 1952 - December 11, 2019

Mark Michael Miller                Mark Michael Miller, age 66, died Wednesday, December 11, 2019, at his quiet country home in South Salem that he dubbed “The Ranch.”  His final weeks and days were spent lovingly cared for by his three sons, Kristopher of Corvallis, Bryan of Portland, and Andrew of Salem, as well as his sister, Maureen Esser of Roseburg.

                Mark was born December 23, 1952, to Howard E. and Mary Miller in Gary, Indiana, and grew up in Miller Beach, exploring the nearby woods, trails, dunes and beaches along the southern shore of Lake Michigan. Some of this area became our newest national park in February 2019:  Indiana Dunes National Park. He graduated from William A. Wirt High School in Gary in 1970 and kept in touch with a number of high school friends over the years.

                In young adulthood he worked a variety of jobs including summers as a lifeguard, in home construction and remodeling, and in the metallurgical department of US Steel/Gary Works, while attending Indiana University and Indiana State University. His canine companion, “Little Dog,” was a loyal friend as he explored many parts of the country east of the Mississippi. By 1976, Oregon was calling to him so he loaded up Little Dog and drove west over the Rockies and Cascades, winding up near Mount Hood.

                Mark’s Oregon years were spent exploring and appreciating forests, rivers, lakes, mountains and ocean beaches by foot, car, kayak, bike or on skis. He summited Mount Hood in his twenties and observed the May 18, 1980, eruption of Mount St. Helens from Portland. Mark worked for a time in menswear at Lipman’s in downtown Portland, attended Mt. Hood Community College and met Malia Pohrman, whom he married in 1980. They later divorced.

                Mark received his Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Oregon State University in 1983 and worked for the State of Oregon Employment Department for 32 years. Career highlights include managing the Employment Department Office in Gold Beach, where he was instrumental in developing a pilot program for the Oregon Youth Conservation Corps as part of Governor Neil Goldschmidt’s Children’s Agenda in the 1980s. After moving to Salem, Mark led the Employment Department’s services to veterans for a number of years, before moving back to the Workforce and Economic Research Division, where he had started his career. For almost 20 years, Mark provided leadership to a team of economists and analysts spread all across the state of Oregon, before retiring in April of this year as a manager in the Analysis Group. His former colleagues recently expressed their appreciation of his leadership and mentorship.

                Mark loved paddling waterways and founded the informal, tongue-in-cheek entity, “Rag Tag Rafting,” featuring his personal fleet of Orange Torpedo inflatables, providing fun and the occasional flips for his family and friends. He loved fine wine, participated in the annual Oregon Grape Stomp Championships at Willamette Valley Vineyard, and enjoyed his personal tradition of “Steak, Wine and Movie Night” at home every Sunday.

                He is deeply missed and will remain forever in the hearts of his boys, Kris, Bryan and Andrew, his sisters Maureen and Bonnie Medina, Ohio, granddaughter Natalie, and countless friends near and far.

                There will be an informal gathering of family and friends at a later date in Salem to share food, fellowship and favorite memories of Mark. If you wish to help preserve an area that Mark particularly loved, he chose Friends of the Columbia Gorge for any contributions that might be made in his memory.


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Guest Book Entries

I am incredibly saddened to learn of Mark’s passing. He was one of the most kind hearted, funny yet self effacing men I have met. I have many fond memories of him, particularly experiencing first hand his passion for rafting. I will regret only making one of the ragtag corporate retreats as it was an incredible experience filled with fantastic people and great laughter. Mark was beloved and Salem will simply not be the same without him. 

What I remember most about Mark was his great sense of humor and being an all around nice guy.  He was also very proud of his three boys, he spoke often of them.  I know he will be missed.  May the Lord bring you comfort during this time.  Remember the happy memories, they can never be taken away.

Jan (Stiffler) Sloan 

Mark was a dear friend with whom our lives were intertwined in our 20's.  I was Mark and Malia's Best Man and he was one of my groomsmen.  We met working at Lipman's in Corvallis and became fast friends.  His love of wine was evident back then as we (Mark, Malia, myself and others) would pile into the original VW bus and seek out wineries in the Willamette Valley.  On those trips, Mark introduced me to Journey; blasting from his cassette player. 

I visited Mark's home often; be it Corvallis, Salem, Gold Beach, or Portland. (The parties at the Western Blvd house were legendary!)  Through Mark and Malia, I met two very special people (Shelley Thompson and Barb Sleezer) and enjoyed lengthy relationships with each of them.  Of course, socializing seemed to always involve sharing M&M's hospitality at their home, local taverns or road trips to Central Oregon. Playing pool and setting up quarters and beer were mainstays.

Always accommodating, Mark would occasionally agree to be a guest lecturer for graduate classes I taught for PSU's Hatfield School of Government.  His soft-spoken and dry humor won students over; even while discussing intra-agency communication and policies!

While it had been too many years since we sat down face-to-face; we often communicated by social media commenting on some topics that triggered memories from long ago.  I always enjoyed Mark's photography and felt privileged to be invited to RagTag Rafting events.  30 years later I still count Mark as one of my dearest friends.  We knew so much about each other publicly and privately that I was always amazed to learn something new about Mark.

As many have noted on FB, Mark loved his family and boys.  He seemed particularly proud of how each one turned out to be men of character.  I knew his sons as toddlers and boys, but not as young men and adult sons.  Family and friends then work were important to Mark. I still can "see" Mark squinting with a Clint Eastwood demeanor challenging me to "make his day". Followed quickly grinning, "Oh, I get it ... nevermind!"

Our Lord God brings so many people into and out of our lives; some just a distant hazy memory ... and then there are gems such as Mark who you know immediately how blessed you were to know him and honored to be his friend!

Mark, I'll miss your FB posts and our bantering over "the old days".  You are truly missed!

I have many fond memories of Mark from high school and college.  I can still see his beautiful blue eyes and warm smile.  I am so sorry to hear of his passing.  He will live on in the hearts of many.  My heartfelt sympathies to his family and many friends. 

What a great tribute to your kind and gentle father. We in the Wiedrick family are so very sorry for the loss of your dad. Please know we are thinking of you all!