It fluttered down as if on cue, the lone piece of confetti, slipping from the rafters of EnergySolutions Arena just as the pallbearers stood Saturday to help Larry H. Miller take final leave of the stadium he built and loved. As if in poignant witness to the victory of a life well lived, the confetti danced past the silenced jumbo screen, gave a nod to the uncharacteristically noiseless crowd and landed, smoothly, on the Utah Jazz insignia painted on the wooden boards of the court.
Larry H. Miller may have lost the battle with type 2 diabetes when he died Feb. 20, but, friends and family reiterated at his funeral Saturday, he "won the war."
"He felt it was his responsibility to do as much good as his assets would allow," said Carisa Miller, who started off her grandfather's funeral by reading his obituary to a crowd of several hundred. "He coined and lived by the phrase, 'Go about doing good until there is too much good in the world.' "
As she recounted his life, Carisa Miller made no mention of the world-class racetrack, the motor sports park, or the NBA franchise her grandfather constructed during his lifetime. She didn't talk about his 42 car dealerships, his movie production company, his restaurants or even his philanthropic organizations. Instead, Carisa Miller — as well as subsequent speakers — called to mind the more personal triumphs in Larry Miller's family life.
He married his high school sweetheart, she said. He had five children, 21 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He loved them, and they loved him, too.
"I love my grandpa because he is so good," said one of the grandsons, straining to reach the podium set up temporarily where the Utah Jazz basketball hoop usually stands. Other grandchildren recounted memories of fishing at the family lodge and drives out to Miller Sports Park in Larry Miller's beloved Ford 427 Cobra.
"He was a man who lived well, laughed often and loved much," said Karen Miller, his only daughter. "He gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children."
Brian Miller, one of Larry's four sons, portrayed his father as a "very simple man who had a simple worldview."
"He would always tell us, 'Life is simple. It comes down to the good guys versus the bad guys,' " he said. "I believe my father was one of the good guys."
Apparently, business and community leaders statewide share the sentiment.
Larry Miller's casket, appropriately painted with blue and white racing stripes to match his favorite race car, was surrounded by wreaths of flowers sent from — among others — each of the major colleges and universities in the state, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Utah Highway Patrol.
"Yes, Utah knows this guy," said Elder M. Russell Ballard of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, playing off Larry Miller's television advertising campaign. "And we love him."
Larry Miller frequently went out of his way to help those less fortunate than he, said LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson, who named the businessman as a personal friend and confidant.50 comments on this story
Once, President Monson recalled, when a local burger joint was in danger of closing, Larry Miller set the owner up with new, rent-free property so he could continue making the "best burgers in town."
"Those kinds of things — the little things Larry did every day — weren't in the newspapers," Monson said. "If we will just remember not to overlook the forlorn, not to shun a person who has no friends, but rather open wide our hearts and souls, everywhere we go we'll have an opportunity to pay tribute to Larry."