Dec. 18 , 2006

Family commissions pastel in memory of Torey Miller

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

The Miller family completed their new home east of Dassel with a pastel tribute to the late Torey Miller, beloved husband, father, and son.

Torey Miller died March 30 from a lethal, fast-moving adenocarcinoma, which is a type of cancer.

His wife, Cindy, commissioned Lance Albers, now living in Fergus Falls, to create a pastel in his memory. Albers is the same artist who painted the murals on the side of Cokato Museum.

Cindy is a kindergarten teacher in Hutchinson. She earlier had purchased another pastel from Albers when he lived in Hutchinson, and she liked his style. Just as he was about to move to Fergus Falls, she hired him to do the pastel.

Albers did his homework first, Cindy said. He took photos of the Miller children, Gannon, 5; Holton, 8; and Peyton, 3; as well as photos of the 90-acre site. The view in the pastel is what can be seen from the window of the house, built in 2001, looking toward the northeast.

Torey was a hog producer and crop farmer. He gathered real field stones from his and the family property of his parents, Jim and Sharon Miller. They are used in the fireplace in the house, Cindy pointed out.

The pastel was finished Nov. 19. It was brought home to Dassel in a covered trailer, due to its large size. With the help of family and friends, the pastel is mounted high above the living room, just across from the fire place for which Torey had carefully gathered and washed the stones himself. The pastel also can be easily viewed from the upstairs balcony.

The pastel is a blend of images of the Miller children, the farm and Torey’s favorite tractor, and words. Some of the images are superimposed on others, and some of the words are hidden in the trees and leaves bordering the view from the house’s window.

The words, “Daddy, we love you,” form an arc of leaves at the top of the pastel. Torey’s name is in the trees on the right. “I love you” is in the leaves at the bottom of the pastel, Cindy said.

Cindy originally is from Cokato. Her parents are Carl and Bev Rokala. Cindy didn’t meet Torey at Dassel Cokato High School because he was four years older than her. They had mutual friends, though. Cindy often saw him at The Norseman, now Daniel’s Family Restaurant, where she worked, Cindy said.

They were married in 1990.

Torey’s cancer was first detected in Aug. 9, 2005. It is a rare type of cancer, and probably started in the lining of his abdomen. Doctors don’t know what caused it, she said.

The Miller family still runs the farm with the help of friends and hired hands, she added.

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