Saturday, March 9, 2013

Lola Miller of Deadwood Open Air Market Fame Died 2-19-2013

Lola Miller, Gary Mule Deer and Ruth Miller
DHS1937 Classmate Lola Thompson Miller passed away shortly after getting her red hair spiffed up in the beauty shop. She is Gary Mule Deer's Mother.  Gary Mule Deer (born Gary Miller) is an American comedian and country musician. 

What a life she lived, steeped in Deadwood history. The Open Air Market next to Deadwood Hospital was nearly my second home as was all neighborhood kids. No wonder Deadwood was a Black Hills commercial center in the 1940's and 1950's

Lola Miller 
(August 16, 1918 - February 19, 2013) 

Lola Miller passed away early Tuesday morning February 19, 2013, at Spearfish Regional Hospital.

She was born on August, 16, 1918, at her grandparent’s farm in Sterling, Idaho. Her parents were Marvin and Bertha (Satterfield) Thompson. After her parent’s separation she moved with her father and two siblings to Salt Lake City, Utah, where she lived with several aunts and uncles and her grandmother. She and her sister Norma sang on Salt Lake radio and at local dances. In 1933 Lola moved to Deadwood, South Dakota, to live with her father where she attended high school and made many lifelong friends. She often remarked that the difference between Salt Lake and Deadwood was astounding. (Still is!)

Lola was a Deadwood telephone operator from 1936 to 1941. Deadwood being Deadwood, Lola and the other operators knew the secret whereabouts of everyone in town. The stories were great! In 1938 she met her future husband Bruce. In her words he was, “The best looking man in the Black Hills.” They later married and moved to Spearfish in 1941 where they operated the Open Air Market and later other businesses one of which was the Vita Theater. She had fond memories of selling movie tickets to townspeople and especially the children. Lola was involved in establishing the Modern Mother’s Club, the first kindergarten at the Lab. School, and the first P.T.A. Her mother’s club membership lasted for 64 years. Throughout her life she actively enjoyed participating in several other clubs and events. Lola was a very social person and was seen about town shopping in La Mode, eating at the Country Kitchen, and playing tennis in the park with Flora Lee until both were 85 or one of them fell. She also bowled until she was 84. She was an avid fan of music, movies, and taking thousands of snapshots of her family and every person she ever knew. Undoubtedly her favorite form of entertainment was the Lawrence Welk Show. This started in the 50s and lasted until last Sunday. Lola was a Welkologist. Her friends remember her as having a good sense of humor and being prompt with sending a card for every occasion. She loved to travel and some of her favorite memories were Hawaii, New York City, and multiple trips to Branson.

She is preceded in death by her husband Bruce, two brothers and one sister. Lola is survived by her four children: Gary (Nita), Cheryl, Susan, and Kevin. In addition there are five grandchildren: Shawn, Jennifer, Jamie, Justin, and Joshua. Her great-grandchildren are: Tel, Jordan, Daulton, Tyrell, Kaycee, Jaxon and Brecken. Finally, she has two great-great grandchildren Tripp and Tee.

Her words of wisdom were of a health focus: “Wear your boots, bundle up, and I told you not to go out in the cold night air!” On Lola’s last day she was short of breath but had the Edgewood staff wheel her to the beauty shop where she got her hair colored and set. She often said, “I came into this world as a redhead and I will go out as one.” She did.

Due to Lola’s request there will be no funeral service. Memorials or cards may be sent to the Hospice of the Northern Hills or the High Plains Heritage Center at P.O., Box 828, Spearfish, 57783.


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