“Well, it’s another beautiful day”
And it was precisely that on the morning of October 4th when Miles Reznik completed his life, having embarked on his last year to fill out a century here. He passed on at his home during his daily routine with his son Tom at his side.
A first-generation descendent of Czech immigrants, Miles was born in Pittsburgh to parents Anna and John Reznik into a family with three sisters and two brothers. He had no middle name because – as he would be more than happy to tell you on any occasion really – his family was just too poor to afford one. These were the times of the great depression, times of scarcity, where everything was tight, as were the ties between a close-knit network of family and friends living in Pittsburgh’s Czech neighborhood. At times, some lines were crossed into the dubious to make ends meet, but they always did make it through those times exceedingly tough.
Miles graduated from high school in 1941, then went to Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania for two years on a basketball scholarship. And it’s amazing who you can meet when bobbing for apples at a Halloween party in Pennsylvania. Her name was Betty Johnson. Something clicked when they both bit into that one apple, signaling the beginning of a journey that would continue over the many years to come.
In 1943, Miles volunteered for military service in the US Army. He first trained in high-speed radio communication, in which he rapidly excelled. Charged with managing beer and cigarettes for the officers club because he didn’t drink or smoke, Miles tapped his business savvy by investing only four hundred dollars to turn operations around to profitability. His reward: a thirty-day leave, where he proposed to Betty at Niagara Falls. His only misstep was getting into trouble with the local police for “necking” in public.
After his leave, Miles returned to the military to become a paratrooper. The very first time he was ever on an airplane, he ended up jumping out of it. Financial incentives were in place as well. Paratroopers were paid an extra fifty dollars a month. The only question became: For how long? That was partially answered when he survived counting to three. Upon completing jump school and lined up at attention, they counted off. One. Two. Three. The ones become the 101st Airborne Division; the twos, the 82nd. Both were deployed to Europe, many to Normandy on D-Day. Few returned. Miles was a three, a group that became the 11th Airborne Division. He was sent to battle in the South Pacific. Standing one position to the left or right would have meant his chances of living much longer would have plummeted. Such a close call made Miles view the rest of his life as a special bonus from God. The years ahead were gravy.
When World War II ended, Miles returned in 1946 to complete his bachelor’s degree at Westminster College in 1948 and marry his bride Betty on April 3rd of that year.
With a pronounced appreciation of higher education’s value – for himself and for others – Miles pursued a graduate program in clinical psychology at the University of Denver in 1949 and was later awarded his master’s degree in clinical psychology.
His first son David was born on April 27th, 1957, who sadly lived only briefly. The years 1962 and 1963 saw the births of his second and third sons Tom and Scott.
His career as a psychologist took Miles and his family through various stations: he worked for the State of Colorado, operated a residential vocational workshop for the mentally challenged in Minot, North Dakota, then joined Fort Logan Mental Health Institute back in Colorado – and even the Environmental Protection Agency in Denver after his formal retirement.
Oh yes, and gravy. Hailing from a generation characterized by sacrifice and scarcity, food became a focus. Food was love, a sign of celebration, signaling gratitude when times were more generous. Miles’ all-time favorite food group was gravy. Anything with gravy – except chicken breast, since dark meat was his vehement preference. He had a discount coupon for everything, marked his calendar when those really good pork chops went on sale. He had been poor enough and had brushed closely enough to an untimely death to fully appreciate how rich his long life truly was. Miles never complained. His disposition was bright. His patience rivaled Job’s. Miles manifested the word content. Just ask him how he was doing. He was always “ornery as ever.”
Now sifting through the memories of 99 years – some accurate, some foggy, some embellished, sorted neatly into the more distant, then thrown into the whirlwind of the most recent – these all make up the mosaic that is Miles Reznik.
Seeking solace, we think comfort may always be out of reach, when it actually might be as close as a warm blanket. As Miles was fond of saying: “If they don’t have these warm blankets in heaven, I’m not goin’!”
Indeed it is another beautiful day in Colorado, but now missing a focus, an anchor point in Miles Reznik, who earned his special place in heaven wrapped in his warm blanket.
Miles is survived by his son Tom; his son Scott; his granddaughters Christy, Katie, Heather, and Jenny; his great-grandchildren Lucas, Abigail, and Noah; his sisters-in-law Janet, Sharon, and Shirley, his nieces Hille and Mary, Kym and Gayle; his nephews Danny, Randy and Carter, Kenny, and Chris.
Miles was preceded in death by his wife Betty; his son David; his sisters Irene, Helen, and Patty; his brothers John and Lucky; his brother-in-law Johnny.
The family has entrusted Vessey Funeral Service with arrangements. A viewing will take place at 2649 East Mulberry in Fort Collins on October 14th from 2 to 5 p.m. The memorial service will be held on Friday, October 15, 2021 at 2 p.m. at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, 311 6th Street in Windsor. A reception will follow at 5 p.m. at the Moot House, 2626 South College Avenue in Fort Collins. Interment will be at noon on October 28th at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations to the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado.
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