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Larry H. Miller honored for faith, philanthropy

President Monson presides, addresses funeral service

Family, friends, community members and Church leaders celebrated the life of Larry H. Miller Feb. 28, lauding him as a family man who loved his community and the Church and spent much of his life helping others.

Larry H. Miller interview. Ravell Call, Deseret News
Larry H. Miller interview. Ravell Call, Deseret News Photo: AP

Brother Miller, 64, a prominent and successful businessman who owned the Utah Jazz NBA franchise, died Feb. 20 from complications of type 2 diabetes.

"Everywhere we go, we'll have an opportunity to pay tribute to Larry if we will just remember not to overlook the forlorn, not shun the person who has no friends, but rather, open wide our hearts and our souls to all those who need a little help up the ladder," said President Thomas S. Monson. "Larry Miller was one who always reached down and helped another person up."

President Thomas S. Monson of  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks at the funeral of his friend Larry H. Miller as dignitaries family members and others attend the his funeral at the Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2009. August Miller, Deseret News
President Thomas S. Monson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks at the funeral of his friend Larry H. Miller as dignitaries family members and others attend the his funeral at the Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2009. August Miller, Deseret News Photo: Deseret News

President Monson presided and spoke at the funeral, attended by more than 1,000 and held in downtown Salt Lake City in the Energy Solutions Arena — a building that Brother Miller built. Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve also spoke at the service where Brother Miller's five children and 21 grandchildren shared memories of their father and grandfather. Elder Marlin K. Jensen, LDS Church Historian, and family friend Jim Grant offered the invocation and benediction, respectively. Michael Ballam performed "How Great Thou Art."

President Monson praised Brother Miller as a "dear friend" who lived what he believed and was "thinking all the time."

Gail Miller looks down on the American flag presented to her by the Utah Highway Patrol during the burial of her husband and Utah Jazz owner Larry H. Miller  in the Salt Lake City Cemetery in Salt Lake City, Utah, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2009.  Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News Pool Photo
Gail Miller looks down on the American flag presented to her by the Utah Highway Patrol during the burial of her husband and Utah Jazz owner Larry H. Miller in the Salt Lake City Cemetery in Salt Lake City, Utah, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2009. Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News Pool Photo Photo: Deseret News

"Those of us that knew him best knew his thoughts were broad," he said.

President Monson also spoke of Brother Miller's generous financial support of the Joseph Smith Papers Project — a project destined to become one of "the great historical contributions" of this time to the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

LDS Apostle M. Russell Ballard speaks about his good friend Larry H/Miller at his funeral at the Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2009. August Miller, Deseret News
LDS Apostle M. Russell Ballard speaks about his good friend Larry H/Miller at his funeral at the Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2009. August Miller, Deseret News Photo: Deseret News

Contemplating what the Prophet Joseph will say when he meets Brother Miller, President Monson said, "I think he will say 'Well done, Larry.'"

President Monson also spoke of a small sculpture in his office that was a gift from Brother Miller and represented the poem, "The Bridge Builder" by Will Allen Dromgoole.

In the poem, which President Monson recited, an old man on a lone highway is asked by a pilgrim why he is building a bridge when he will not pass by on the road again. Speaking of a "youth whose feet must pass this way," the old man said, "Good friend, I am building the bridge for him."

President Monson said he often shares the poem and the sculpture from Brother Miller with visitors to his office.

He said Brother Miller also gave each of his children "one of those beautiful pieces so that they might remember the Bridge Builder — Jesus Christ."

During his remarks, Elder Ballard said on many occasions he and Brother Miller would have long talks. "We would talk about everything, even about cars. We talked about the Jazz. He was a very open and very candid and very loving friend."

He spoke of Brother Miller's many contributions, including the more than 300 yearly scholarships, athletic fields at BYU, the lobby at the Huntsman Cancer Hospital, the Joseph Smith Papers project and This is the Place Heritage State Park. "Larry Miller has helped many, many more people and only he knows how many he has helped."

Elder Ballard recalled a trip to Church history sites that his family took with the Miller family. "It was not unusual for him to wipe away a tear. He loved history," he said. "He loved particularly the early history of the Church."

He said that he didn't know why Brother Miller went through such a hard period of suffering and pain before his death, but noted that he believes that "this will bless many others who will someday have a similar burden to carry."

Now, he said, Brother Miller has no pain.

"Larry Miller's spirit is alive and well and he will be anxiously engaged in teaching the gospel in the next world," he said.

The Miller children, Karen, Bryan, Steve, Roger and Greg Miller, spoke of their father as a man who loved his family, cars, and fishing in Idaho. "He inspired us all to be better," said Greg Miller. "He can live on in all of us by us doing the things he inspired us to do."

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