Dedicated volunteers like Ralph and Gen Miller, Unsung Heroes for December, brighten the world for those around them all year round, not just at Christmas.
Miller is president of the Nelson County Historical Society and is in charge of the Stump Lake Village. Ralph is proud of the army of volunteers who work together to make this venture such a great success. He modestly said, “Me and about a hundred other guys work shoulder to shoulder get it all done.”
The village was founded in 1994 and has been growing by leaps and bounds every since. They have a post office, library, dentist office, haberdashery, toy shop, jail, general store - the list goes on and on. Miller said, “We salvage everything! We’re scavengers.” Ralph is grateful for the many donations that are made to the village and enjoys the restoration that sometimes becomes necessary.
Miller, whose grandparents homesteaded in Walsh County, says, “At the village, we try to make it like the old times that a lot of us can remember.”
Gen Miller said, “It is unbelievable what these fellows do!” Gen and Ralph, who have been married for 55 years, have a Mutual Admiration Society…an important ingredient in a good relationship.
Gen is a great cook. Each Wednesday she prepares doughnuts and other luscious baked goods for the enjoyment of the many volunteers who work at the village each Thursday.
She says, ”We’re busy people” That has been true throughout their married life. Gen loves to reminisce about the days when they were first married and were living on their family farm near Brocket. She says, “We had cattle, registered Herfords, We put up a lot of bales, Ralph and I.”
In 1972 they purchased J.C. Miller Lumber Company with Miller’s brother. Then they established their Shopping Center on the Prairie with two locations (one in Brocket and the other in Grand Forks.) The Millers have enjoyed a very active and successful business life.
Gen says emphatically, “Our top priority is our family.” They have four married children and four grand children as well as two great grand daughters.
The inspiration of Ralph and Gen’s keen work ethic shines in the lives of their four children. Each one is distinguishing his or herself with an outstanding career: Tammy is C.E.O of Border State Electric; Theresa works for the Public Defender in Crookston, Minn.; and their two sons, Ralph A. and Lance are in construction. Each has taken to heart the energetic example of their parents. The pioneering spirit of their great grandparents is alive and thriving.
Along with their impressive involvement in community service, the Millers have been actively involved in their church.. They each would like to encourage others to becomes involved in volunteering. Ralph says, “It is great to see what a local community can accomplish when volunteers join together for the betterment of all.”
Page 2 of 2 - The existence of Stump Lake Village is living proof of what can be done.