Gary Miller, longtime archdiocese employee, remembered for big heart and enormous talent

Aaron Lambert

Gary Miller, a longtime and beloved employee of the Archdiocese of Denver, died peacefully surrounded by his family on Dec. 26, 2020. He was 71.

During his tenure in the planning and construction department with the archdiocese, Miller worked tirelessly on countless construction projects throughout the archdiocese, including the restoration of the Cathedral Basilica. He was well-respected by all who worked with him, and he carried out his job in humble service of those who sought his expertise.

“I believe that Gary did not consider his time at the Archdiocese to be ‘work’ in the true sense of the word, but instead it provided an opportunity to support God’s work through the completion of construction projects,” said Gordon Scott, a longtime friend of Miller’s and one of his co-workers in the planning and construction department at the archdiocese.

As officemates, Schott and Miller would discuss faith, family, friends and Nebraska Husker football, which Miller was a dedicated fan of. Schott also recalled his friend’s warm sense of humor.

“At the beginning of the workday as I entered the office, Gary would often note, I am glad you decided to return,'” Schott said. “At the end of the day, a common parting sendoff was ‘don’t forget to come back.'” 

Prior to working at the archdiocese, Miller spent an accomplished 34-year career designing power plants for Xcel Energy (formerly Public Service Company of Colorado). Upon retirement from Xcel, Miller took a position with the archdiocese, where he worked for almost 14 years.

“Gary is a great mentor and friend! I relied on him for his institutional memory – he worked here for almost 14 years – and his executive expertise,” said Mike Wisneski, Director of Planning of Construction for the archdiocese and another of Miller’s close co-workers. “Gary was a senior member with Public Service Company of Colorado and Xcel Energy and brought an interesting perspective to working with clergy.  I believe that every priest he worked with respected him and liked him.”

Miller had no greater passion in life than his two children and four grandchildren, whom he loved dearly. He and his wife Linda were at every game, concert and school event that his kids and grandkids were, and he loved to play golf with his son and grandson. Another of Miller’s passions was flying, which Wisneski enjoyed hearing about.

“I will miss his long stories of past experiences, especially about his love of flying! He’s the only person I know who has seen the sun set twice on the same day, all due to a rapidly steep climb in a Leer jet on the way from Denver to Steamboat Springs,” Wisneski recalled.

Miller was generous with his time, ushering at his church for 40 years and volunteering for the Optimist Club of Monaca South, where he helped with the Christmas tree lot and serving thanksgiving dinner each year to over 800 children of the boys and girls club.

Miller is remembered by his family and friends as a very generous, giving and caring man. His work with the archdiocese, while thankless at many times, can be seen in the beauty of the parishes and various facilities he worked on. He will be sorely missed.

“Gary’s work on various projects, including his tireless efforts related to the rehabilitation of the Cathedral Basilica, will stand as a testament to a quiet man who preferred to do the Lord’s work in anonymity,” said Keith Parsons, Chief Operating Officer of the archdiocese. “As you look around and see the beauty in our facilities throughout the diocese, remember Gary, whose dedication to our faith-filled mission enabled all of us to see a little bit of God’s glory in the beauty Gary helped create and to which he devoted his enormous talent.”

COMING UP: From rare books to online resources, archdiocesan library has long history of service to students

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National Library Week, observed this year from April 4 to April 10, is the perfect occasion to highlight the essential role of libraries and library staff in strengthening our communities – and our very own Cardinal Stafford Library at the Archdiocese of Denver is no exception.  

Since 1932, the library has served as a religious, intellectual, and cultural resource for seminarians and students at St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver.

As the library of the seminary, we are always responsible for the four dimensions of the priestly formation of our seminarians. The library is charged with being responsible to all the divisions of the Seminary: the Lay Division (Catholic Biblical School and Catholic Catechetical School), the Permanent Deacon Formation Division, and the Priestly Formation Division, said Stephen Sweeney, Library Director. 

In addition to being one of the main resources to the seminary, the Cardinal Stafford Library serves the needs of other educational programs in the Archdiocese of Denver, including the St. Francis School for Deacons, the Biblical School, the Catechetical School and the Augustine Institute. While the library is currently closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was previously open to anyone, giving people access to more than 150,000 books, audios, and videos. 

The Cardinal Stafford Library was named after Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, Apostolic Penitentiary at the Vatican and former Archbishop of Denver from 1986 to 1996. He was a dedicated advocate of the library and of Catholic education.

In 1932, the library was established by two seminarians, Maurice Helmann and Barry Wogan. While they were not the first seminarians to conceive the idea of establishing a library, they are considered the founders for undertaking its organization.  

Since its founding, the library has grown and compiled a fine collection of resources on Catholic theology, Church history, biblical studies, liturgy, canon law, religious art, philosophy, and literature. Special collections include over 500 rare books dating back to the early 16th century and many periodicals dating back to the 1800s. The oldest publication in the library is a book on excommunication published in 1510. The Cardinal Stafford Library is also home to various relics and holds bills personally written by some of those saints.  

Over the past few years, the library has undergone a process of beautification through various renovations that include improvements in lighting, flooring, and even furniture restoration. During these difficult times, libraries are doing their best to adapt to our changing world by expanding their digital resources to reach those who don’t have access to them from home. 

The Cardinal Stafford Library provides a community space; we subscribe to about 200 print journals and have access to literally thousands more through online resources available on campus computers, Sweeney added. “I have been the Library Director for almost 11 years. I absolutely love my work, especially participating in the intellectual formation of the faithful from all of the dioceses we serve”.  

For more information on the Cardinal Stafford Library, visit: sjvdenver.edu/library 

Featured photo by Andrew Wright