Avon man donates 40 acres to parks (Avon, Ohio)

Mystery Headstone

  • 12-20-14: Rayymond "Buddy" Miller

    Thurs., July 30, 1998

    By MORGAN LEWIS, Morning Journal Writer

    Buddy Miller stands in his 40 acres of property that he donated to Lorain County Metro Parks. (Morning Journal photo by Ross Weitzner)

    "AVON -- Buddy Miller knows how fast Avon is growing, and he wants to keep his 40 acres of nearly untouched woods from being ravaged by developers. So he donated the land to the Lorain County Metro Parks.

    The 61-year-old former city construction worker walked around his property yesterday and discussed his decision.

    "With the way Avon is building up, I didn't want these woods to be destroyed,'' Miller said. "There is no (nature) in Avon Lake or Westlake no more. It's all destroyed.''

    The Metro Parks board accepted Miller's donation of 40 acres yesterday. The land, which will eventually be called the Miller Nature Preserve, will be the first Metro Parks location in Avon.

    Miller grew up next door to the property which he purchased and started calling home 30 years ago.

    "The value of this property is just unbelieveable,'' said Dan Martin, Metro Parks executive director. "This is an incredible donation. We are so grateful to Buddy.''

    Martin wouldn't estimate when the new park will open to the public.

    "These things take time,'' he said.

    Neither Miller or Martin would discuss the actual value of the property, taking into account the current building boom and demand for land in Avon.

    Up the nearly half-mile gravel drive of Miller's property off SR83, sits a cozy home with a garage and a large white barn. But the gardens are the highlight of the estate. Dozens of arrangements of yellow, red, purple and orange flowers, nestle around trees. Long, rolling assortments of plants and flowers line gravel paths and surround a fountain that connects to the French Creek, which runs through the property.

    Despite the extensive gardens, most of the property is dense with tall trees.

    The future park will be kept close to the way it is now, Martin said. The Metro Parks will loop a trail through the woods and around the gardens and put a bridge over the French Creek.

    "Avon's got a wonderful park system,'' Martin said. "This will simply compliment their system.''

    Three dogs -- a gray and white spotted mutt named Sparky, a fat rottweiler named Bozo and a small black terrier named Chipper -- plus a donkey named George currently share the land with Miller.

    "George is a better watchdog than the dogs,'' Miller said. "You can hear him from a mile away.''

    Land developers have approached Miller with handsome offers he said, but he has turned them all down.

    "They've been pestering me for years,'' he said. "But I always said no.''

    Miller said he has been thinking about donating the property for 15 years, but over the last year, the talks started to get serious.

    "I sleep better at night now.'' Miller said. "I'm glad that the (donation) is through. I know the woods are going to be in good hands.''

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    NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 7-6-05, By Julie A. Short

    [Mystery Headstone]

    ``AVON -- Avon resident Joe Kapucinski dug up more than the good old earth when last week he began to renovate the front porch of an Orchard Street rental property he has owned for six years.

    "I was digging up the front porch to put new pavers in when I found this big piece of sandstone," Kapucinski said. "My daughter's boyfriend helped me flip the stone over and we saw that it had writing on it."

    After brushing dirt from the stone, Kapucinski was shocked to discover it was a tombstone dating back to the early 1900s. The inscription on the tombstone reads: Anna M. Miller, 1877-1919. Also included on the headstone are a symbol and the words: In memoriam- Supreme Forest Woodmen Circle ...

    The tombstone was traced to the long-time Miller Family of Avon and given to Buddy Miller. Anna was Buddy's great-grandmother.

    "I'm going to put the stone in one of my gardens," Buddy said. "It will be a nice tribute. I have many people visit my gardens everyday. The other day more than 500 people came through."

    Buddy owns property off Center Road (where the large cement address marker sits). His property has long been a stop for many garden enthusiasts over the years. "When I die, I want my ashes spread all over my gardens," he said.

    Anna's son, George Miller, 93, who is visiting Buddy for the summer, was 4-years old when his mother died and has no memory of why the headstone was buried at the Orchard Road home, once owned by the Millers. He did note later that he believed both his parents were buried at St. Mary's Cemetery on Stoney Ridge. Kapucinski visited the cemetery and found a large headstone with the names of George, Anna and another son, Walter. George died in 1912 and Walter died in 1914, putting to rest the theory that the new headstone was purchased because George passed away after Anna, thus the family disposed of Anna's.

    "I guess we'll never know why this headstone was buried by the house," Kapucinski said. "I became a little spooked after I found it and since then, I keep hearing noises in the house almost like footsteps. It's a century old home I'm renting out and no one lives there right now, but I swear, I heard noises."

    Kapucinski also began researching the reference to the Supreme Forest Woodmen Circle on the Internet. "It appears that the group may have helped families after someone passes away by giving them a free headstone," he said. "Both Anna and George were members. His larger tombstone has a reference to Woodmen."

    According to an Internet web site, The Woodmen Society is the largest fraternal benefit society with open membership in the United States. Joseph Cullen Root on June 6, 1890, founded it in Omaha, Neb.

    The acquisition of the Woodmen Circle, which served as the women's auxiliary of Woodmen since it was founded, added more than 130,000 members to the organization. Through the merger with the New England Order of Protection, which had earlier merged with lodges of the first fraternal benefit society started in 1868, Woodmen can trace its history to the beginning of fraternalism in America.

    Spanning three centuries, Woodmen has evolved into a modern financial services organization, offering life and health insurance, annuities, investments and home mortgages. Today, Woodmen is one of the largest fraternal benefit societies with more than 810,000 members who belong to more than 2,000 lodges across the United States and conduct volunteer projects that benefit individuals, families and communities.''

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    Rayymond "Buddy" Miller, 77, lifelong resident of Avon, died Saturday, December 20, 2014, at his home. He was born May 3, 1937 in Avon.

    He owned and operated Miller Construction, and was a longtime operator for Chemtron Corp. in Avon Lake. He was employed by the City of Avon Street Dept. for over 30 years, retiring in 1987. Mr. Miller, along with his longtime companion, Alice Fowles, donated their family farms and several parcels of land in Avon to the Lorain County Metro-Parks, who in turn created and developed the "Miller Nature Preserve and Conservatory" on Center Rd. (Rt.83) in Avon.

    He enjoyed snowmobiling through many states with his close friends and snowmobiling club "N.N. Riders" which he founded several years ago. He was a member of the Detroit Road Car Club and enjoyed farming and operating large equipment. Buddy was a racer and race fan and competed in Super Modified Racing in the 60s.

    He is survived by one brother, Roy (Dolores deceased) Miller; five sisters, Rita (Jack deceased) Smith, Jean (Don deceased)Weekman, Margie (Bruce) Hutchison, Carol Bogar, "Toots" (Tom) Yaeger; six nieces and five nephews.

    He was preceded in death by his parents, Raymond and Mary (nee Moulder) Miller and longtime companion, Alice Fowles.

    Friends will be received Friday, December 26, 2014, from 2 until 4 and 6 until 8 P.M., at the Misencik Funeral Home, 36363 Detroit Rd., Avon. Funeral Services will be held Saturday, December 27, 2014, at 11 A.M., at the funeral home. Internment will be private.

    Friends are also asked to visit the Miller Nature Preserve and sign a register book at 2739 Center Rd., Avon, Saturday December 27, from 10 A.M. until 6 P.M., and again on Sunday, December 28, from 10 A.M., until 6 P.M., where a video and photo collage will be arranged in Buddy's memory.



    Raymond "Buddy" Miller remembered as important part of Avon's heritage

    AVON -- A local man described as a cornerstone of the community was laid to rest today.

    Raymond "Buddy" Miller, 77, a lifelong Avon resident who wore several hats, died Dec. 20 after a battle with cancer. He was the owner of Miller Construction, a longtime operator for the Chemtron Corp. in Avon Lake, and he worked for the Avon Street Department for more than 30 years before retiring in 1987.

    Miller's family ran a farm for years in Avon. He donated 76 acres of his family's farmland to the Lorain County Metro Parks more than a decade ago. The land now bears his family name as the Miller Nature Preserve and Conservatory. "He was a wonderful man," Metro Parks spokeswoman Vanessa Klesta said ...

    Avon Mayor Bryan Jensen said Miller occasionally would drop by city hall even though he retired more than 20 years ago. He said every time Avon loses a resident like Miller, it also loses a little bit of Avon's heritage.

    "He was kind of a cornerstone of Avon," Jensen said. "Anyone who thinks of Avon thinks of Buddy Miller. You would see him on a tractor in the middle of winter plowing people's driveways for free. If you were in trouble, you couldn't find a better guy to come out and help you." ...

    Tim Loeser, a longtime friend of Miller's, worked for Miller Construction and the Avon Street Department with Miller. Loeser said Miller was "very handy" and was the type of person who could take nothing and make something out of it. "He was probably the most enjoyable and generous person you could be around," Loeser said. "He gave to everybody."

    The public can visit Miller Nature Preserve at 2739 Center Road, Avon, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ... Sunday to see a video and photo collage arranged in his memory.

    Contact Jon Wysochanski at jwysochanski@chroniclet.com

    Avon to 1974

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