Mountain oasis loses a 'strong force'

Died Wednesday when mower rolled over on him
Aug. 01, 2014 @ 08:12 AM

From the narrow, twisting, gravel roads snaking through the Globe community in northwestern Caldwell County the Starlite Trailer Lodge's RV park opens up like an oasis of neatly-manicured lawns, bright paint and window baskets of fresh flowers.

It all resulted from the passion that 69-year-old Lee Miller had for the park and its residents, said Clay Borders, a co-owner of the RV park.

"We absolutely could not say enough good things about Lee," Borders said. "He was a very caring and meticulous person, and an ideal fit, for obvious reasons."

Miller died Wednesday after his riding mower flipped over when a portion of the bank along the Johns River gave way under him around 4 p.m., said T.A. Beadnell, 62 Miller's life partner for the past 43 years.

Miller, a retired Realtor originally from Pennsylvania, and Beadnell, originally from Ohio, have been coming to the park for the past four years, arriving in April and staying through the summer. Miller helped out at the park with maintenance, answering phones and taking reservations in return for free rent. Known as traveling campers, Miller and Beadnell had criss-crossed the country since 2005 but always returned to Caldwell County.

Miller could not sit still and took on the job of keeping the park neat and clean as a way to stay busy, Beadnell said.

"He loved to work, and this was his passion," Beadnell said. "He wanted the Starlite to look like a resort."

Borders said the work was appreciated by the community.

"They were permanent members," Borders said. "We adopted them, and they adopted us. These guys have been on the road for years and finally chose Caldwell County as their final destination. He was such a strong force in our community."

Borders believes his loss will be felt not only at the park, but anywhere else Miller made his presence known as a traveling RV camper.

"He had a tremendous sense of humor, was very smart and so well-liked," Borders said. "The tourist industry, and the campground industry, will miss him."