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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Larry H. Miller Group employees pitch in to spruce up grounds at Northeast Community Center

More than 80 Spokane-area employees from the Larry H. Miller Group of auto dealerships dug in last Thursday for their annual day of service in what is a company tradition.

The employees pitched in to spruce up the Northeast Community Center, 4001 N. Cook St., and then moved to the center’s community garden at Andrew Rypien Field.

There they rebuilt failing raised beds with new lumber, spread gravel for paths and filled the boxes with growing medium.

Employees of the Miller group volunteer across the company’s western footprint each year in honor of the late Larry H. Miller, who died in 2009 at age 64 from complications from diabetes.

The day of service is held on Miller’s birthday of April 26. The work is strictly volunteer.

“It is a pretty good cause,” said Donnie Laabs, a certified auto technician for Hyundai.

Last year, the Spokane volunteers cleaned up under Interstate 90 from Division to Monroe streets, a job that included graffiti removal. Two years ago they donated volunteer work for the Boys and Girls Clubs.

“Every year we pick a different project,” said Steve St. Germain, general manager of the Miller Honda dealership downtown. “It feels good” to volunteer, he said.

At the community garden at Rypien Field, manager Nick Bowcut said the garden has proven popular. The raised beds lease for $15 a season, and the garden is nearly booked for this year. “My hope is to make this more of a center point in the community’” Bowcut said.

Larry Miller and his wife, Gail, built the company from the ground up, starting at a Toyota dealership in Murray, Utah.

In Spokane the company has Toyota, Honda, Lexus and Hyundai dealerships.

According to the company website, “Since 2010, more than 9,000 employees have donated over 40,000 Day of Service hours in the communities where they live and work.”

Over the years, the company branched out into sports and entertainment; finance and insurance; and real estate with a large presence in philanthropy.

The Millers bought the Utah Jazz professional basketball team in 1985. Larry H. Miller’s signature is on the court inside the Vivint Smart Home Arena. The court is named after him.