GUNNISON — Harry Fred “Bill” Miles passed away peacefully in his Gunnison home surrounded by family on July 8, 2020. He was born on February 28, 1933, to Wallace “Wally” and Dorothy “Dot” Miles in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was one of six Miles boys: Richard “Dicky”, John “Jack”, Stanley “Stan”, George “Don” and Bert Tatman. Growing up in the years following the Great Depression, the son of a welder, instilled in him the value of hard honest work, frugality, and immense generosity.
Bill attended Fountain High School in Fountain, Colorado and it was there that he met the love of his life, constant companion, and most formidable sparring partner—a witty and beautiful young woman: Billie Jean “Jeanne” Williams. Bill and Jeanne, two young lovebirds, eloped to Raton, New Mexico 70 years ago on August 16, 1950, just before the start of their senior year in high school, to cement their love and commit to their life together. And they were back in their respective homes by curfew.
Bill was a star basketball player at Fountain High, and still holds the school record for the most points scored in a game—43. Of course, his own boys didn’t share his passion for basketball, and they all became wrestlers, but his grandsons took up the sport and chased his records. But he’d often remind them that they had a big advantage that he lacked in his time—the three-point line. So as far as he was concerned, his records can never be broken. Bill was a super-fan of Mountain Valley School athletics, and rarely missed his grandkids’ games.
After high school, Bill enlisted in the US Army and proudly served our country for 8 years, including a stint stationed at Chelveston Air Force Base in England. After his service, he and Jeanne returned to Fountain where he drove school busses and big rigs for E.U. Williams Trucking and worked for the local fire department.
While Bill was never a stranger to hard work and had immense respect for a full day of manual labor, it was the back-breaking toil on the construction crew of the Airforce Academy—digging the trenches for water and sewer lines—that inspired Bill to go to college. In 1957 Bill and Jeanne moved their family to Gunnison, Colorado where Bill enrolled at Western State College. In addition to being a full-time student, Bill worked more than 40 hours a week to support his family. He built houses and worked as the night janitor at the Gunnison Post Office. Bill achieved his degree—a double major in Business and Accounting—in 1961, with three kids and a fourth on the way. He was a savvy business owner of local businesses Trio Propane and Holden Village. He was a Life Member of the Gunnison Elks Lodge #1623 and a dedicated member of the Gunnison American Legion Post 54. Bill was enthusiastic about giving back to his community that he loved so dearly: he sat on the Board of Directors of Gunnison Valley Hospital and retired from the Gunnison Volunteer Fire Department in 1984 after 21 years of dedicated service.
Bill and Jeanne had four children: Tena, William “Billy,” Richard and James “Jim.”
He is survived by his wife Jeanne, his children Tena and Jim, his brothers Don Miles and Bert Tatman, son-in-law Hugo Ferchau, daughter-in-law Lyn Miles, his grandchildren: Michele and Nick Gallowich, Hugo and Debbi Ferchau, Josh Ferchau, Kahra and Josh Barron, Duke and Lauren Ferchau, Kevin and Shannon Miles, Missy and Brandon McLeod, Billy Miles, Eric and Melissa Miles, Michael Pacheco and Florencio Salomon. His great-grandchildren whom he lovingly referred to as his “Greats:” Desi, Darci, Anna, Melita, Evan, Derek, Aden, Zac, William, Lily, Emery, Aubrey and Lily as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins, friends and folks in town who all loved him dearly.
Bill is proceeded in death by his parents, three of his brothers: Dicky, Jack, and Stan, his daughter-in-law Becky, and his sons Billy and Rick.
Bill will be remembered for his generosity, helpful nature, hard work, wisdom, jokes, and many stories—he sure could tell a whopper. He has been endearingly referred to as ornery and as the “leader and strength of our family.” He has left behind an enduring legacy and will be greatly missed by those who loved him (and probably even those who didn’t).
Services for Bill will be August 16, 2020, at 6:00 P.M. at the Gunnison County Fair Grounds. This date would have been Bill and Jeanne’s 70th Wedding Anniversary. There will NOT be a reception due to restrictions related to COVID-19. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the 1971 GHS Football Foundation, P.O. Box 482, Gunnison, CO 81230. Anyone attending the service is asked to wear masks, practice social distancing, and follow the guidelines set forth with the state and county’s COVID-19 rules and ordinances. If COVID-19 changes, we may have to change or cancel Bill’s service.
There will be signs posted at The Fair Grounds and on social media at that time.