Mark Michael Miller
December 23, 1952 - December 11, 2019
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. www.gorgefriends.org