Celebrating the Life of Gregory Lyle Miller
Good morning, my name is Mary and I would like to say thank you to everyone who has come to say goodbye to my dad.
Parents Lyle and June were proud to name their first son Gregory Lyle Miller on the 11th of February 1949 at Kilcoy hospital. Dad was a little brother to Margaret and a big brother to Lillian, Max and Danny. He grew up with his 4 siblings here in Mary St, Woodford, attending Woodford State School the same as his children would in the many years to come.
When he was aged 13 his grandparents took him out of school to work on the milk run for his uncle Max Otto at Noosa. Then around the age of 16 he milked cows for Charlie Williams in Caboolture, moving onto a job at the Cheese factory in Woodford a year later. He’d managed to save his pennies and had brought himself a push bike, that he would ride every Sunday from Woodford to Somerset Dam and also gave him transport to and from work.
He then upgraded to his first car which was a cream HR Holden ute. On a visit to Kulpie to see his grandparents a cocky but shy 19 year old young man stumbled across a smart, witty young lady by the name of Patricia Austin. After chatting and laughing at his lame stories for some time Patricia went home to put on a pair of shorts. Greg had earlier threatened that he would throw her over the garden hedge to which she replied, “You can’t do that I have a dress on.” Let’s be clear the huge purple bruise Patricia was sporting on her upper forearm the next day was from being acquainted with the hedge.
A fortnight later Patricia received a Christmas card in the mail and was at a loss as to who GREG was that signed his name.
It didn’t take her long to proceed to his grand-parent’s house to enquire about his address. Her swift reply started off with “My dearest darling twit” and that’s how it all began, my mum has always had a way with her words.
Dad was a simple man he never wanted for anything fancy in life. He was good at saving his hard earned money, and in October 1969 had purchased the house at 128 Archer St, Woodford, just prior to asking Mum to marry him, which he had verbalised to her the second time they met. He was setting everything in place to have a family of his own, which I will add he was keen to get started on.
Dad celebrated his 21st birthday that following February in 1970 and was eagerly waiting at the alter on the 13th of June that same year to marry his bride. Just before the wedding the ute got a new paint job, she was now black. He was proud as punch for how his life was coming together. As the bridal party waited at the Methodist church in Oakey someone whispered “she’s here” to which dad gave a huge, loud sigh of relief that everyone laughed at.
The young newlyweds soon settled into married life. One week after their first year anniversary they celebrated the birth of their first child, Lyle Gregory born on the 19th of June 1971. Dad was still working at the Cheese Factory and mum was kept busy making a home for her new husband and baby boy. In July the following year dad started working with his brother Max for the Main Roads Department as a machine operator. Three weeks later on the 10th of August mum gave birth to their little girl, Me. Dad was thrilled as he moved his family into the home he had prepared at Archer St, Woodford. The HR ute couldn’t safely fit a family of 4 now so dad purchased a Cortina to transport his family around. Which was comfortable until the family was about to expand one more time. They were both surprised and extremely happy when their 3rd child Gavin Craig was born on the 14th of May 1974.
Dad’s life was complete; he had a wife, three kids and a beautiful home. It was time to upgrade to a larger family car, the ‘Valiant.’ Mum was at home juggling three kids under the age of 3 while dad was camping away at North Arm for work. He did this on and off for several years throughout his time with the Main Roads Department.
Mum got her licence at 22 years old, she would pack us all up and we’d go to drop dad at work early on Monday mornings and go back to pick him up Friday afternoons. Dad would bring us home little presents and surprises from time to time when he’d been away, we would always be excited to see what he got us. During his times of camping away for work he started drinking with his fellow work mates, this also continued when he would come home.
Dad would enjoy a weekend away with his brother in law Mal, drinking, hunting or fishing while Mum and we kids would visit her family in Oakey. In 1984 at 35 years old he took the biggest adventure of his life. He boarded a plane on his own and flew to Darwin to see his sister Margaret and Dennis. When he got back he was bragging that Dennis took him Barramundi fishing and that the weather in Darwin makes you thirsty. The one and only time you would get him near a plane, I think he was too scared of it falling out of the sky.
Dad liked a beer or two. He would quite often frequent the D’aguilar Pub, on one occasion after drinking for several hours mum arrived with his pyjamas in a paper bag and told him “you’ve been here all day you might as well stay the night.” He was furious at Mum for embarrassing him, but it didn’t take him long to high tail it home. After that he would keep an eye on the clock to see how long he had before his pyjamas would arrive.
Our home in Archer St was next door to the Uniting Church. Dad would go next door and mow the church yard whenever it was needed, but wouldn’t mow his own lawn. Mum would do it. He would say he was doing his bit for god and that god would take care of him for it. I hope now that god has kept his side of the deal.
Dad would collect hubcaps/wheel cover’s, he would find them on the side of the road and bring them home because you never know when someone might need one, one day. There’s several hundred in the back shed, if everyone here today could please go take one as a lasting memory of dad, that would be amazing.
The early 1990’s brought the start of the grandchildren. Pop, poppa, poppy, popples was a role that dad took pride in filling. It started the trend for the day care children too, nanna Pat and poppa Greg. Three granddaughters soon had pop in an emotional state of tears, when asked why he was crying? His reply was “what’s a man gotta do to get a grandson?” He can now proudly boast that not only has he got 4 granddaughters, Sharmane, Ashleigh, Anndrea and Amber. Three grandsons William, Patrick and Henry but also six great grandchildren.
At the end of 2007 dad and mum moved from Archer St to Neurum St, Woodford, dad was still with the Main Roads Department and mum was still doing day care. Dad needed heart surgery in 2008, he gave up drinking prior to his operation. This would not have been easy for a long term drinker, but he did it for his family and health. Now a non-drinker the man mum married had returned.
He had 6 months off work to recuperate; it was during this time that he was diagnosed with liver cancer. From 2008-2018 dad underwent procedures four times to treat the cancer growth. Specialists were successful in maintaining the size of the growth for so long.
Dad and mum are good people, they would willingly help others. Lots of people have come in and out of their lives over the times. Although I am the only daughter they conceived, there are three others whom they claim also to be their daughters, Lana, Roz and Donna. Dad was proud as punch when he walked Lillian down the aisle, then me and most recently Donna. He might appear all hard and tough on the outside but he was a big softie when it came to his family and friends.
Dad’s personality at times could be immature, inappropriate or even offensive without meaning to be. He was a bit of a larrikin, prankster and would love a good yarn. His sense of humour and wit could at times get him into trouble.
He spent a lot of years working with the same group of men at the Main Roads Department. He earned the nickname “Reggie,” this came about by dad mimicking and mocking an older gentleman named Reggie who dad met at the Caboolture Pub. Reggie spoke with a lisp and walked with a bit of a limp, this was then portrayed by dad at work regularly, and he did it so well.
The white bee became his top gag around 2007 when someone else had got him with one. Two in each pocket and a few spares in mum’s handbag at all times. As soon as someone new crossed his path you could guarantee they got a white bee. He tried to fool a beekeeper once, he got sucked right in. He took dads white bee home with him to NSW. Dad would stop school kids on their way home and coask them over to see a white bee. This caused quite an alarm when police officers came knocking on the front door fearing that dad had been grooming children, they politely told him to stay away from other people’s children. Dad could not understand that he was doing anything wrong. His white bees have brought smiles to people’s faces far and wide, he just liked to see people have a laugh.
He had a lifetime membership to ‘the old bastards club,’ cost him $10 which went to charity and he got a keyring and a membership card, when his card was worn out mum got him a new one.
As us three kids grew older we didn’t always see eye to eye with dad. He could be stubborn and set in his ways. He wasn’t so great at helping with our homework or encouraging us to play sports, but he was always there at the end of each day. You could always count on having a roof over your head and a bed to sleep in, we never went without. My dad had ethics, values and sometimes morals, he went to work everyday to provide for his family.
After 39 years with the Main Roads Department dad retired in 2011. Retirement gave him many happy opportunities to spend more time with his friends and family. He would fill his days by dropping Brendon and Patrick at school and running them home in the afternoon. Mum was still caring for day care children and dad’s daily escape from the kids would be to go for a drive up to Booroobin to have his lunch and a cup of tea while listening to the radio on the side of the road.
Like anyone he had his little ways. He liked his things left where he put them. Mum could move something and by that night he had moved it back to where he wanted it. He wasn’t all that good at finding things. But I think that’s normal for men isn’t it? Have a man’s look. He knew that eventually mum would find it for him.
I’ve done the sums, dad and mum have spent 49 years 7 months and 10 days together. June would have been their 50th wedding anniversary. Dad passed away aged 70yrs, 11 months and 11 days.
I know he would be very moved to see how many of his friends and family have turned up to help celebrate his life. We are all blessed to have had him as a husband, dad, brother, uncle and a friend.