By Dale Anderson
Sports Columnist 

Worst Seat In The House: A life well lived


Last updated 11/26/2019 at 12:49pm

I sometimes wonder if we fully appreciate living in a small town where we get to know people as well as we do. We get to know so many members of our communities and rural areas it would be tough to go anywhere else to make new friends. But when we lose a long living member of the community we feel sad for the family and for us as a community.

John R. Miller passed away a few weeks ago and his funeral will be Saturday. If you read his obituary you wonder where John found time to spend with his family but he did. He was involved with so many things it is unreal. If you ever want to know what there is to do in a small town just read John’s obituary and chances are you might say there are too many things to do in a small town.

My recollections of John are many and each one special. John served as a school board member for many years including my four years at RHS. I have John’s autograph, thankfully, on my high school diploma.

John was the PA announcer for 47 years for Bronco football and basketball. I guess we took it for granted that we had the best announcer anywhere. We used to chuckle when we played on the road and some home town announcer mispronounced Danekas or Wellsandt or Heimbigner. The only way that John would mispronounce anyone’s name is if that kid’s coach told him the wrong way to say it. John used to say, “You better get every kids name right or you will be hearing from their momma or grandma at halftime or before!”

John announced at the State B Tournament for a number of years and brought in several guys like Ray Bernard, Kirk Danekas and Dave Kommes to announce as well. I remember a story that John told about one particular State game that he and his wife Velda were doing. He said, “We were courtside and one of the teams was an alternative school from the west side. A few of the kids were a bit rough around the edges. They had a young gal coaching them and she was doing her best. She pulled a kid out of the game and he yelled, ‘What the ____ did you pull me out for?’ I covered the mic up as fast as I could and whenever one of the kids came out Velda reminded me to keep the mic covered!”

John had a wonderful voice and easily could have been a replacement for Alex Trebek on Jeopardy. But fortunately his big time was in Ritzville lending his voice as the parade announcer, three times as the RHS Alumni toastmaster, voice of the Broncos and the voice behind the Ritzville Legacy video.

Fittingly John was toastmaster for the 100th anniversary of the RHS alumni banquet. It was my class’ 35th year out of high school and it was a special night indeed. The next year I was asked to be the toastmaster and it was truly an honor to follow John for year 101.

As an announcer at the parades it was great to hear his voice. One year Pat Hailey was running to be the representative for this district after her husband Rep. Steve had passed away. Pat asked me to drive her Corvette through the parade. She told me that she would be walking and my brother Larry was more than welcome to ride with me.

We were having a good time waving to the crowd but when we got close to the announcer’s stand John looked at the car and said to Pat, “Do you realize that the Anderson brothers are driving your Corvette?”

About three years ago I was asked if I would be the parade announcer. I said, “Who gave you my name?” And the answer was John Miller. He told us that you would do a great job.

Before the parade started I tracked John down and said, “I appreciate your confidence in me.” He said, “If I didn’t think you would do a good job I wouldn’t have told them you could do it!”

I could tell a ton of stories that he told me about the school board years; coaches and refs; the winter of his senior year, the Big Bend Electric Co-op 75th anniversary video that I interviewed him for; following his grandkids’ games and many other wonderful musings. But this isn’t a book it is merely a column about a great member of our community and his life well lived.


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