Norman J. Miller (Norm) passed away on November 5, 2020 leaving behind his stories, his boat, and some “great deals.” Norm loved a good bargain and never passed up a garage sale. He believed anything could be fixed with a bungee cord or a little duct tape.
Norman was born September 17, 1943 in Thief River Falls, Minnesota to Signe and Morris Miller. He was one of ten children. He attended grade school at Reiner Township where he had to walk to school up hill (both ways) carrying a hot potato to keep his hands warm. And as the story went, that potato became his cold lunch. He later attended Goodridge High School.
He enlisted in the Army in December of 1960 where he received his basic training at Fort Ord, California. Upon completion of his basic training, his superior asked if he wanted to go to Greenland or some other exotic place. He chose Minnesota. He relocated to a Nike Missile site near Bethel, MN where he was an air traffic controller with top secret clearance, which was a true story not one of Norm’s tales.
He was married to Sharon Holte of Grygla on June 14, 1961 and they made their home in Cambridge where they welcomed a son, Michael.
After three years in the U.S. Army, he took a position at the State School and Hospital in Cambridge as a medical aid. He later attended Moler Barber School in Minneapolis and after an eighteen-month apprenticeship, he got his license.
For his 21st birthday, he bought a 1964 red Mustang and enjoyed the hot rod until he had to trade it for the “twins” …or that’s what he always claimed. Bonnie and Brenda were eight months old when they moved to Greenbush in June of 1967 where he opened his barber shop. He operated the shop for over 53 years. His family continued to grow when Valerie joined them in 1972.
Norm was involved with the American Legion for over 41 years as a member, bartender and manager. He was also a member of the Greenbush Fire Department as well as served on the Greenbush City Council. He a member Bethel Lutheran Church.
Norm was quite the character and was interviewed by several area newspapers over his lifetime. He loved to tell stories to anyone who would listen, and it was even better if they printed it. It was the quotes in those articles that best describe him. In one article he summed up his 50 years in the barber business by saying, “I’ve never had a bad day – never had to say, ‘I hate this job.’” Another article shared that Norm was “pretty handy with the clippers and the chatter.” During this interview, he was once asked if he was a chatty barber to which he replied– “Sometimes people come in and say, ‘Just cut the hair and cut the crap.’”
But for Norm, it really wasn’t about cutting hair – it was the friendships and the exchange of the stories during the cut. The size of the fish and the nature of his story depended on his audience. If it was a buddy listening, the fish was a record breaker; for the DNR, it was small. His ability to spin a tale was legendary. People believed…at least a fraction of the tale. Lives were touched. The barber chair was well used.
In another recent newspaper article about his life, he was asked about his priorities – “God is at the top of my list – then family, boat, motorcycle, and my bass guitar. I play bluegrass and Old-Time music.” If he was being honest, the priority of this list may have changed depending on whether or not it was fishing opener.
Norm’s second home was at Springsteel Island near Warroad, MN. This is where the world knew him as “The Clipper.” He loved the water. Although he and Sharon recently had started spending time in Arizona during the winter, his mind and heart were always at Springsteel. Norm most certainly loved his fishing, but he always told his daughters that the “catch of his lifetime” was their Mom.
Besides fishing, storytelling and cutting hair, Norm loved to hunt, snowmobile, watch hometown high school wrestling, and cheer on his great grandson at the motocross track. He also read the area newspapers from cover to cover.
He is survived by his wife Sharon of over 59 years; daughters Brenda Sather (Al), Bonnie Sterle (Jeff), and Valerie Grunig; as well as numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren, four brothers and four sisters and a large family of nieces and nephews.
Who knew that with all the uncertainly that 2020 has brought, that this year would also be the final chapter in the one of the greatest story teller’s tales? Although the adventures of “Stormin Norman” may be over here on earth, his stories will live on. We are comforted to know that he’s sharing his stories right now in Heaven with his son Mike, son-in-law Bryan Grunig, several family members including his parents and sister Sharon, as well as his many hunting, fishing, snowmobile and barbershop buddies.
A time for condolences will be Friday, November 20th from 4-8 PM at Collins Funeral Home in Greenbush, MN. A small family service will be held on Saturday, November 21st at Bethel Lutheran Church in Greenbush. Restrictions due to COVID will be practiced and enforced. A celebration of life and burial will be planned for June 2021. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you take the time to share stories of your own family. Feel free to embellish them a bit, it’s what Norm would have done.
Last modified: 11/09/2020