After spending many years as caretaker of what used to be the city of Barron’s municipal landfill, Kenny Miller was happy to accept an invitation from then-City Clerk/Treasurer Tony Slagstad to take a ride on the new Rolling Oaks Golf Course back in 1982.
At the time, Miller, then age 63, had watched as what had been the landfill was converted into a handsome, new golf course.
“I took him out in a golf cart for a tour of the course,” Slagstad remembered Tuesday, July 21, 2020, three days after Miller passed away at the age of 101.
“But I forgot to put the brake on the cart,” he added. “The cart rolled down an incline, and there I was, chasing the cart with Kenny still in it.”
Slagstad said Miller “had a hell of a memory. He could tell you the names of people who used to live in certain homes in town. And he could eat lutefisk like nobody’s business.”
That taste for Norwegian fish might have come from the more than two decades Miller spent as a member of the Barron-Maple Grove Fire Department. Fire Chief Mike Romsos was in his office Tuesday, July 21, researching information on Miller’s career with the department.
The chief said Miller had long since retired from the department before he became a member 30 years ago, in 1990.
“I’ve checked the records and found that (Miller) joined in May 1960, and retired when he reached age 65, in 1983,” Romsos said. “At the time, you had to retire when you reached that age.”
Like Slagstad, Romsos said Miller had an excellent memory and told stories about fires he had fought.
Miller’s ability to remember accurately came in handy when the News-Shield published a feature story two years ago, during summer 2018, about a county-owned cemetery located near the former Barron County Poor Farm, just east of the city.
In an interview on June 28, 2018, Miller said his grandfather ran the Poor Farm after he retired from farming in the Prairie Farm area.
“He went to Amery once, with a team of horses, to pick up people who were moving onto the (Poor) Farm,” Miller said.
Many of the Poor Farm residents were older folks, Kenny added.
“And if you could work, you did,” he said. “They had quite a crew of people working there. One of my aunts used to spoon feed the old gentlemen before they passed.”
History will be part of Miller’s funeral, as well.
Romsos said that Barron-Maple Grove Fire Department will escort Miller to Wayside Cemetery on Sunday, July 26, using an antique, 1936-vintage fire truck. The vehicle was restored by the Hungry Hollow organization, and is stored on Hungry Hollow property north of Barron.
Romsos said it won’t be the first time Miller has been accompanied by the old fire truck.
“He rode in it during one of the (recent) Fall Festival parades,,” he said
A complete obituary appears elsewhere in today’s News-Shield.