James Irwin Miller was born October 12, 1935, in Phillips County, Kansas, the youngest child of Guy Benjamin and Olive Sylvia (Wallace) Miller. He passed away at the Phillips County Retirement Center on July 14, 2019, at 83 years old. His father died when James was a year old.
James graduated from Phillipsburg High School in 1953. After high school, James went to work with the state of Kansas as an engineering aide for about five years.
In June 1958, James was inducted into the U.S. Army and attended Boot Camp at Ft. Riley. During his active service, he was stationed in Germany. In 1960, Jim was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army and transferred to the US Army Reserves completing his reserve obligation June 1964. During his six years of service, he earned a good conduct medal, carbine sharpshooter badge, rifle M-1 marksman badge, and was awarded as a light machine 1st class gunner.
After his active military service, James worked for the Missouri-Pacific (in Jim’s words “Misery-Pacific”) Railroad as a gandy dancer in Kansas City.
Later, James gained employment as a surveying aid for the United States Bureau of Reclamation in Region 7. He was assigned to the North Platte River projects with home office in Casper, Wyoming. Over the next 28 years during his government career, surveying activities took him to Oregon, Washington, Nevada, California, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and Alaska.
On August 30, 1974, James was married to Mary Jeanne Stafford in Vancouver, Washington. They divorced.
James was a licensed land surveyor in the state of Oregon in 1982.
James returned to Phillips County where he married Joanne Philbrick on November 27, 1992 at the First United Methodist Church in Phillipsburg. Joanne convinced him he was too young to retire so James returned to surveying becoming an independent licensed Kansas land surveyor practicing in Phillips and neighboring counties for over 20 years. At the age of 79 in 2015, he retired with over 60 years of surveying experience.
Until his health started failing, he was an avid sports fan of his local grandsons. He enjoyed a friendly game of cribbage with relatives and spent afternoons doing puzzles and playing cards at the Center. He liked to cook and watched the ‘Donald Trump’ show. In earlier years, he liked to fish and travel.
While living in Oregon, James was a member of the Elks Lodge. After returning to Kansas, James became a member of the Kansas Society of Land Surveyors.
James was preceded in death by his parents, a brother, Guy Benjamin Miller, Jr., and two sisters: Arlene Case Hoover and Sylvia Usrey. He was also preceded in death by a step-father, Don Franklin Harsha, a step-brother, Jack Harsha, and step-sisters, Ruth Harsha Ratashak and May Harsha Lienberger.
He is survived by his wife, Joanne of the home and his brother-in-law, Jim Usrey of Whetstone, AZ. He is also survived by stepchildren Michael (Marcia) Philbrick of Seneca, Eugene (Vickie) Philbrick of Wichita, Gregg (Susan) Philbrick of Sugarland, TX, Stacey (Darin)Moon of Phillipsburg, and Jeanne Ann Stafford of Tampa, FL. Jim is survived by step-grandchildren Ryan (Lindsey) Philbrick, Wichita, Anne (Eric) Williams, Shawnee, KS, Jason Philbrick, Missouri City TX, Ashley Philbrick, San Antonia, TX, Nathan Moon, Phillipsburg, Eric Moon, Phillipsburg, Tyler Lichter, Tampa, FL, 4 step-great grandchildren, and several nieces, nephews and step-nieces and nephews.
James was a loving husband, brother, step-father, and step-grandfather and will be missed by all who knew him.
Funeral services will be held at 2:00 p.m. on July 20, 2019, with Pastor Blake Stanwood officiating. Burial will be at the Fairview Cemetery under the direction of Olliff-Boeve Memorial Chapel in Phillipsburg.
Memorial contributions may be made to The Center of Phillipsburg and Hospice Services, Inc. of Phillipsburg and sent to the Olliff-Boeve Memorial Chapel, 1115 2nd Street, P. O. Box 563, Phillipsburg, Kansas 67661
For online condolences go to Olliff-Boeve Memorial Chapel‘s website.