In memory: William Dwain Miller

It is with great sadness that the family of William “Dwain” Miller announces his passing on Saturday, Oct. 27, at the age of 89 years in Fort Collins. Dwain will be forever remembered by his wife and best friend of 62 years, Doris and his children Mark (Karen), Blake, and Valarie (Peter). He will also be forever remembered by his grandchildren Noelle, Hailey, Colin and Lindee, and by his niece Cindy Butler (Mitch), nephew Rick Hurt (Margaret) and great nephew Brady Hurt.

Dwain was born in Mereta, TX, and raised on his parent’s cotton farm. He attended San Angelo College before joining the Army and fighting in the Korean War. While serving as a medic, he was wounded in action and received the Purple Heart as well as the Silver Star for bravery. Upon returning home, Dwain attended Texas Tech University, earning his bachelors in horticulture and park administration.

In the summer of 1955 while working as a seasonal ranger in Yellowstone National Park, he met and fell in love with Doris Ruth Sandsmark, who was also working in Yellowstone Park, and the rest, as they say, is history. They married in 1956 and eventually settled in Boulder, where Dwain was hired as Boulder’s first Parks and Recreation director. During his time in Boulder he was instrumental in establishing the boundaries for the Boulder Mountain Parks, preserving Boulder’s trails and open spaces for all to enjoy today. His outstanding accomplishments earned him the prestigious Everly Award for environmental stewardship from the President of the United States in 1967.

In 1968, Dwain took a teaching position at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins and earned his doctorate in parks planning. He was very popular with his students, creating the infamous “Spring Trip,” a six week bus tour designed to visit and learn about National and State Parks throughout the western states. As one can imagine, there were many stories. He also helped establish the landscape architecture degree program at CSU before retiring in 1987.

Realizing that he wasn’t quite ready for retirement, Dwain took a job with the BLM in Fairbanks, AK. He and Doris lived there for 5 years before returning to their hometown of Ft. Collins in 1998 for the actual retirement.

Dwain was well known for his sense of humor and his hilarious story telling. Those that knew him and traveled with him on his many fishing, hunting and outdoors adventures were always in for a good time no matter the conditions. He loved gardening, golf and playing cards, but most of all he loved people and had an amazing number of good friends of all ages.

Perhaps Dwain’s greatest passion in life was fishing and hunting in Alaska. From his first trip, driving from Texas to Alaska just out of high school, to his many excursions while living there, the Alaskan adventures and stories were endless. In the summer of 1973 the Miller family took an epic road trip (with camper in tow) to Juneau, Alaska. The kids left town kicking and screaming, and came back a closer family with memories to last a lifetime. In 1985 Dwain started an annual trip to Yakutat, Alaska, with family and friends and made the trip 32 years in a row.

A funeral service in memory of Dwain will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10, at the First Presbyterian Church in Ft. Collins. Those who so desire may make memorial donations in memory of Dwain to the Southwest Parks and Recreation Training Institute, of which Dwain was a founding member.

Donations can be made by check made out and mailed to SWPRTI, 9640 Audelia, Suite 12374, Dallas, TX 75238, or made online at, go to “donations”, drop down box to Dwain Miller Memorial.