I don’t read the obits. I’m afraid of how many names of people I know will be there.
Besides, a lot of the people I know wind up in the news pages for one reason or another upon their passing.
So, it was a bit of a punch to the gut to pick up this morning’s paper and read the one thing I always read — John L. Smith’s column — and find the name of longtime Review-Journal coworker Mike Miller, still among the living but coping with what is likely to be a terminal stage of cancer. According to Smith, Miller, 74, has opted to not go through the agony of chemotherapy now that his colon cancer has returned.
Miller — a lifelong artist, cartoonist, illustrator, sketcher and scribbler — recently had a meet-the-artist event at Collective Souls Fine Art at Tivoli Village.
Thanks to Smith, we now know that Miller started his life of art at Disney Studio as an apprentice on “Sleeping Beauty” and “101 Dalmatians” for the princely sum of $62.50 a week and that he created the Hey Reb! logo for UNLV for a dollar. He also did commissioned pieces for Elvis Presley, Louis Prima and Wayne Newton.
In 2005, the newspaper had him do a series of paintings depicting the city of Las Vegas’ centennial. The paper sold numbered and signed prints of the series and gave employees a ridiculous discount. The frame of the one I have hanging in my living room cost 20 times what the print did.
I believe we have all of his popular “Tomas the Tortoise” children’s book series, which is set in and around the Las Vegas Valley.
As is his wont, Smith picked a telling Miller quote to close out the column: “I have a great family. We’re Christians. We always have been Christians. We have a belief in God. I’m OK with this. I accept that this is God’s will, anyway. When he wants me, he will take me. In the meantime, I was to feel as good as I can and be happy and enjoy as much of life as I can.”
Miller, whenever he is “taken,” will leave a legacy on walls and bookshelves and movie screens.