Bonnie (Sletten) Miller passed away peacefully on Monday, February 12, surrounded by family and staff at the Prospera Nursing Home in Mandan, ND. A memorial service will be held at the Bismarck Funeral Home on Thursday, March 1, at 1pm. Her body has been cremated in accord with her wishes and her ashes will be buried next spring near her grandparents, mother, baby brother, and son at the Bethlehem Cemetery near McHenry, ND.
Bonnie was born to Harvey and Ruth (Stafford) Sletten while they were living in Glenfield, ND where Harvey was a teacher and superintendent of the Glenfield public school system. The Sletten’s had two children while living in Glenfield; Bonnie, and their firstborn, a boy, who died at birth. The family soon moved to Carrington, ND where her brother Jim was born. Harvey taught high school in Carrington, and was also Principal of the Carrington school system. Bonnie received her grade school and high school education there, always surrounded by her many friends and involved in numerous school activities. She married her high school sweetheart James Miller and they spent their early years of married life in Grand Forks, ND. While living there two children, first-born Michael (Mike), and Mark were born to them. The family also lived for short periods in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Bloomington, Indiana before moving to Bismarck, ND, in 1969. They lived continuously in their home in Bismarck, until her needs due to Alzheimer’s disease advanced beyond resources available at home, and she was moved into the Prospera Nursing Home in Mandan.
Bonnie was devoted to her children and limited her work out of the home to allow maximum time with them. She worked in the school lunch programs in both Grand Forks and Bismarck, and was free to be with her kids whenever they were not in school. When they entered high school she began thinking about new challenges. She started by accepting a supporting role in the English Department at Bismarck High School and concurrently enrolled at the University of Mary as an older-than-average student. She graduated with a BS in Accounting, and went on from there to correspondence classes at UND, earning a masters degree in Public Administration. She applied that education by working full time at various State of North Dakota agencies, including the State Tax Department, State Retirement and Investment Office, and finally at the Department of Public Instruction, where she retired in 2013 as Manager of Administrative Services.
In the early 90’s it became obvious that the Miller’s two grandkids needed help, which lead to becoming certified as foster care parents. A short time later the Millers adopted Kelly and Derek, and committed to raising a second family.
One of her greatest pleasures was watching and cheering for Derek in his hockey games. She cheered loudest of all when he made a play, and held her breath whenever he got hit or crashed into the boards. She almost couldn’t watch as he tried out for a position on various travelling and all-star teams and had tears every time, tears of joy when he was accepted or tears of empathy when not. While travelling with other hockey parents she made many friendships that endured well beyond the hockey career.
Bonnie had many interests beyond family and work as well. In the early years she was a dedicated bridge player, devoted to the card game and socializing with her many friends. In later years the Millers developed an interest in snow skiing, taking lessons at ski slopes west of Grand Forks and later near Minot. They honed those skills at slopes throughout North Dakota and later by joining ski clubs and making many vacation/skiing trips to mountain ski slopes in South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming.
During this period she joined her husband’s interest in firearms and became a competent marksman with both rifle and shotgun. Applying these skills she hunted and harvested game birds and big game animals in both North Dakota and Wyoming. She especially loved hunting antelope and most of whatever came with it: traveling, camping, being outdoors in pleasant weather conditions, open country vistas, and opportunities to observe so many great animals in their natural setting. Along with that, she maintained a healthy respect for prickly pear and rattlesnakes, and continually kept a sharp eye out for both.
The Millers also enjoyed camping - in tents and tent style campers in the early years and later in fully equipped fifth wheel units. All of their big game hunts in Wyoming were done from a tent camper, usually parked by a stream or occasionally a rancher’s back forty. She enjoyed nearly every minute of that, but not-so-much when the famous Wyoming winds rocked the camper and threatened to send it rolling across the prairie. They used fifth wheel units to tour the Bad Lands and Black Hills of South Dakota and all of the National Parks and Monuments in Wyoming and Montana. She also enjoyed their many camping trips to campgrounds all along the Missouri River system in North Dakota. These trips usually included camper friends, with many nighttime bonfires and much socializing. These trips also included many hours of boating and walleye fishing, which she greatly enjoyed, except that she drew the line short of baiting her own hook.
After raising her second family she filled some of her spare time by providing volunteer assistance to visitors and patients at St. Alexius Hospital, and attending to abandoned dogs and cats at pet shelters throughout Bismarck and Mandan.
After a lifetime of generally good health she was stricken with Alzheimer’s disease that gradually eroded her personality and mental and physical capacities. For several years she was cared for at home by her family, with skilled assistance from Easter Seals and Northland PACE. Her condition deteriorated until that was no longer feasible and in April 2017 she was moved into the Prospera Nursing Home in Mandan. While living there she was stricken by a brain aneurysm on February 5 and passed into the company of her Lord on February 12, 2018, attended by members of her family and Prospera staff.
She is survived by her husband, James; son, Mike and long-time special friend Kim; adopted daughter/granddaughter, Kelly Eagleman (fiancé Anthony Johnson), and great-granddaughter Abbianne Ray; adopted son/grandson, Derek (Krystal) Miller, and great-granddaughters Lauren and Leighton Miller. She is also survived by her brother Jim (Betty) Sletten, their daughter Lisa (Mike) Gears, and grandkids Ben and Emily Gears. Her grandparents, parents, baby brother, stepmother, one son, one nephew and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins preceded her in death.
In lieu of memorials, the family would prefer donations to the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) or any of the pet shelters throughout Bismarck and Mandan.