John Miller

John Miller

May 15, 1944~March 09, 2024

Obituary of John R. Miller

May 15, 1944 – March 9, 2024

He was born John Francis Keegan on May 15, 1944, at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Virginia Keegan, a single mother. Virginia knew she could not support another child, so she lovingly gave John up for adoption. He then went to St. Vincent’s Infant and Maternal Hospital in Chicago where he was baptized on July 31, 1944, and at nine months old on February 6, 1945, John Michael Miller and Lauretta Miller (Spotto), a loving couple from Chicago, adopted John to complete their family. From then on, he was John Raymond Miller  and grew up in a loving, Catholic family alongside older sister Patricia (Pat). Some time later they moved to the suburb of Brookfield to Dubois  Blvd. (known and referred to as “Do Boys” by the family), where John grew up playing little league and other sports with the youth of the community. He attended and graduated from St. Barbara’s Catholic School. Always mischievous, John got into a bit of trouble and was sent to reform school in St. Charles, Illinois, where his father visited every Sunday. Shortly after reform school, he was referred to Father Flanagan’s Boys Home, known as Boys Town in Boys Town, Nebraska near Omaha. He arrived at Boys Town in July 1959, attended high school and learned the machinist trade. He was a member of the 4H Club and the “B” Club. He won major letters in baseball playing pitcher and centerfield and had achieved a “perfect” game, hitting safely and scoring each of his four times at bat. He led the team with a batting average of .454. He also won major letters in football playing tight end and appeared in Chicago’s Soldier Field on September 29, 1961, against St. Patrick’s of Chicago where his dad was in attendance.

After high school graduation in 1962, John enlisted in the U.S. Army and was on the bus to boot camp when he was called off and told he was not accepted due to his reform school history. Down but not out, John was determined to serve his country, and he pursued enlistment in the U.S. Navy. With a bit of luck and his mother’s help, he was accepted and shipped off to the United States Navel Training Center in San Diego, California. He served on the USS Independence in the South China Sea on the flight deck, refueling and loading aircraft during the Vietnam War. He received a National Defense Service Metal and Letter of Commendation for Outstanding Performance. In addition to his wartime service, John traveled with the Navy to Singapore, The Philippines, Spain, Germany, Austria, Sweden, St. Thomas and several other places. He served in the Reserves until his honorable discharge in 1970.

Back stateside John followed in the footsteps of his father and got a union truck driving job. He met and married Carol Pavich also of Brookfield on April 19, 1969. They had two daughters Jessica and Amanda, but divorced in 1984. He also sought to find his birth mother Virgina and did. He connected with her and met his sister by his birth mother Mary Patricia Davidson (Keegan) where he was welcomed into the family. He settled residence in Westchester, Illinois with the help of his dear friend Gloria that found the two-flat apartment building he bought and lived in. He was known as the “Duke of Downing” and subsequently was the landlord of the year for a record 30 plus years.

John was active in the Boys Town Alumni Association and the VFW. He loved sports, horse racing and gambling. He enjoyed travel and frequently visited Boys Town, Las Vegas, and Marco Island, Florida among other places. He even moved out to Las Vegas for a time but always came back to Chicago. He married a second time to Valentina Chmygaleva but parted ways in 2001.

In retirement he chummed with the guys at the local McDonald’s for morning coffee where he was known as “Big John”. He often visited his sister Mary Pat and her husband Bob in Marco Island, Florida and later bought a villa in Naples as a vacation home. After his dear sister’s death in 2007 he came down to Naples less frequently and eventually rented out the villa full time. He enjoyed retirement in Chicago until March 2021, when he moved full time to Naples, Florida to live out the rest of his days. He passed away peacefully in his sleep on Saturday, March 9, 2024. John is preceded in death by his parents John and Lauretta Miller, sister Patricia Slampak, his birth mother Virgina Keegan and sister Mary Pat Davidson. He is survived by his daughters Jessica Miller and Amanda Goodings (son-in-law Trevor Goodings), grandsons Jake Miller and Josey Wales Goodings, and several nieces and a nephew.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Wounded Warrior project in memory of John.

The Miller family will be having a memorial service Thursday, April 4, 2024, at 10:00am at St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church, 5130 Rattlesnake Hammock Road, Naples, Florida 34113.


Memorial Service

St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church


Patricia Clodfelter

March 12, 2024, 10:17 pm

I attended 3rd Thur 6th grade with John at St Barbara Catholic school in Brookfield, IL. Unforgettable because he made everyone laugh. Then got to know and love his daughter Jessica and grandson Jake at Westchester Bible Church in Il. Very special people. May The Lord hold you tight in his arms at this time.

Maria deizmam

March 14, 2024, 1:11 pm

Amazing! You did the beautiful job ❤️❤️❤️
All my love always – Maria

Cathy fotino

March 14, 2024, 2:18 pm

Amanda my heartfelt ♥️ condolences to you,your dad was such a charming character always argued with me, but we also laughed about what we argued over usually it was about food,may he rest In peace but he probably will argue with someone up there, please keep in touch you are a wonderful and caring person that I was so glad to have met you cathy

Jeanette Sandoval

March 14, 2024, 2:44 pm

May your Dad rest in peace. My sincerest and deepest sympathies to you and your family. I remember visiting in the summer and your I remember your Dad watering the lawn with a hose and drinking a beer. Rest in Peace Uncle John. Love, Jeanette and Nick Sandoval and Family

Veronica Burgess

March 14, 2024, 5:29 pm

We were so saddened to hear of John’s passing Amanda and Jessica. John was a wonderful person who touched so many lives. Always entertaining and made us laugh. So happy to have shared many wonderful memories with your family because of John’s friendship with my dad George through Boys Town. Your dad continued to stay in touch even after the passing of my dad many years ago. May you both find strength and solace in the memories you shared.
Sending our love and heartfelt condolences. May his memory be a blessing. RIP John.
Love Veronica, Claudia and Tyler.

John cannon

March 15, 2024, 2:52 pm

Dear Amanda,
In life God allows us the chance to meet good
People. For me JOHN was one of those people.
May he rest in peace.
A Boys Town Brother, team mate and friend.
John cannon (62)

John Pavoch

March 16, 2024, 11:22 pm

RIP my friend. Best man at our wedding. We had a lot of good times together. He was one of a kind

Gene Korus

March 16, 2024, 11:29 pm

Gene Korus Boys Town class of 1966. Had many good times with John with the Chicago Chapter of Boys Town Alumni and at times at Boys Town Reunion. John was a joy to be with and he truly enjoyed his times with his Brothers of Boys Town.He now joins Father Flanagan and his Brothers. I’m sure John and Frank Kerns found a race track and it will be a track of joy. Blessings to you and family members .

Josey Goodings

March 21, 2024, 12:47 am

My Grandpa was a great man. He went out with a peaceful passing. We miss him so much already. Life is so different without a grandpa to talk to or listen to Lou Rawls with. We love him too much, and we want the best for him moving on and we hope he rests peacefully in heaven.


March 21, 2024, 11:24 pm

My dear John, I can’t believe you were gone. I’ve shared my life with you for the last 40 years up and down and in and out. I never thought you would go my heart so heavy with grief yet grateful that you are no longer suffering and you are with the Lord you’ll be in my heart and everything I do forever Johnny, remember I’m your wonderful woman. We both loved each other and it was beautiful. Rest in peace honey.

Gloria Deizman

March 21, 2024, 11:29 pm

I can’t believe you’re gone Johnny I miss you terrible. I have to accept that you are in a better place. We’ve shared 40 years of life together in and out and up and down and I’ll always love you. You’re wonderful woman Gloria.I’m

Isa Harebava

March 22, 2024, 5:33 pm

Isa Harebava (NGV)

March 22nd, 2024

Mr. Miller, I will always remember your big smile and friendly attitude towards everyone
around you.
Rest In Peace, Mr. Miller!

Marty Cosentino

March 30, 2024, 11:50 pm

You were a great friend and a beloved friend of my father.
You my father and Larry where the three muskets of Hines VA hospital.
Rest in peace my friend .

George Connolly

April 2, 2024, 11:21 pm

Dear Amanda, Jessica and Family,
I was lucky to meet John at Boystown in 1961. We were teammates, classmates, and the best of friends. I was a groomsmen in his wedding and he’s my oldest son’s godfather. John was kind, generous, stubborn and most important a proud Chicagoan. I am honored that John was a friend, and that we had many opportunities to travel together, especially to Husker games. He loved his family and talked about them often. John was an important part of my life and my family’s life and he will be deeply missed.
In my prayers forever,

Monica Goodings

April 3, 2024, 10:31 pm

Dear Amanda ,
My heartfelt condolences to you and your family on the passing of your dad. He has earned his wings, may he fly with the angels.
RIP grandpa.

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