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Funeral draws hundreds wanting to bid final farewell to Larry Miller


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SALT LAKE CITY -- It's not often that a funeral attracts as much attention as Larry H. Miller's funeral did Saturday, but not many people have lived lives that made them so visible in their contributions to the state.

It's the house that Larry built. His funeral certainly didn't draw a full house like he used to see on basketball nights, but the arena was filled with love, tears and appreciation.

Perhaps 1,000 people gathered in the basketball arena: athletes, politicians, business leaders, and people who never met the man but simply admired him.

"Our state has lost one of its very finest citizens," Sen. Bob Bennett said.

During the funeral, 21 of Miller's grandchildren talked about their favorite memories of grandpa, and many of them revolved around automobiles.

Miller's coffin was painted blue with a white racing stripe, just like the paint job on one of his favorite race cars.

"He loved the speed. He just loved everything about them, loved the looks of them. He had a real love affair with cars all of his life," said Tom Mabey, co-owner of Miller's race car.

Speakers praised his accomplishments. President Thomas S. Monson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said "he strived for perfection, and he came very close to achieving it." He also said Miller was willing to undertake "seemingly impossible projects."

Mabey's construction company built Miller's basketball arena. "He had an idea, he had a vision of what he wanted to do, and he knew that he could do it," Mabey said.

"He has produced so many jobs and so many opportunities and so much joy and happiness in this state with all of the things he has done. Look, we're going to miss him terribly," said Sen. Orrin Hatch.

"The truth is he's a very noble man and has many quiet contributions to many people in this valley," Salt Lake City resident Arlene Jonsson said.

Leaving the arena for the last time, Larry Miller had an honor guard of four dozen motorcycle cops. Some of his closest relatives rode in the open air in a convoy of sports cars and racing machines.

Miller was laid to rest in a private ceremony in City Cemetery in Salt Lake City's Avenues district.

Larry Miller was 64. He left behind five children, 21 grandchildren and one great grandson.

E-mail: jhollenhorst@ksl.com

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John Hollenhorst

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