When I was hired as the managing editor of the Mannford Eagle in 2008, I had to win over a few people right away. There were many actually, but town administrator Mike Nunneley, chamber president Rita Bougher, and police chief Lucky Miller were at the top of my list.
Bougher, Nunneley, and Miller welcomed me with open arms. When I would stop by Mannford City Hall, I would go through the police department to go to Nunneley’s office. However, some days I wouldn’t make it passed Lucky Miller’s office because we would talk for hours.
Lucky Miller was allegedly murdered by an officer under his command in Florida, Sunday, Nov. 10 while both were attending a police conference. I’ve been relatively quiet about this because I don’t know how to process the news.
While working at Mannford, Lucky and I became friends almost immediately. He took me on meth lab busts and always called me when they had a major crime or drug bust. He even took me on a tour of a place where police didn’t go very often – Lake Country, a defunct housing experiment from the 1960s that eventually went under, but people continue to live there.
Lake Country was basically like international waters. There were no housing codes, no law, and it didn’t really even belong to a town or county, for the most part. I wanted a tour of it and Lucky took me. At one point, we had to turn around and go back to the station because Lucky’s police cruiser couldn’t navigate the potholes and torn up roads if you want to call them roads. I didn’t get to see all of it, but I got the point.
My son, Paige, was a very curious kid, and he enjoyed going to work with me during Spring Break. When he was in the 6th grade I took him to the police station and he immediately took to Lucky, who told him stories about drug busts and cool arrests. He even let Paige hold about a pound of marijuana from the property room (which was also Lucky’s office and several other offices). I can’t imagine what Paige told his class when school resumed.
Paige also loved Lucky’s police dog, Grey.
One day, Lucky asked me if I wanted Grey to attack me while wearing the customary padded sleeve for protection. Paige’s eyes got real big and a smile started to form on his face. He was going to watch his dad get attacked by an animal that could easily rip a grown man’s face off.
And that almost happened.
Lucky and former Mannford Officer Daniel Brashear stood at the end of a long hallway, and I stood at the other, wearing the sleeve of protection. They started yelling the dog to get him riled up, and they let Grey know I was a bad person that needed to be stopped. I’m not sure what they said. It was in German.
It all happened in slow motion. Grey started running at me with hate in his eyes. As he got closer, I realized I had just made a big mistake. Now, several feet away, Grey leaped into the air, and, out of instinct, I raised the mitt and he bit down just inches away from my face.
After pulling me halfway down the hall, Lucky yelled something in German and Grey sat down immediately and wouldn’t stop staring at me.
Lucky had a smile on his face and a slight look of terror. He looked at me and said, “Yeah, I meant to tell you that you’re supposed to put make sure you put the mitt in Grey’s mouth or he will bite down on whatever he gets a hold of.”
Brashear was laughing uncontrollably, and I was glad I wore a dark pair of pants that day.
Lucky was a great friend and he was always trying to make me better. Around 2009, he went on a diet and lost some weight. He swore by it and followed the diet to a T (it was actually called the T-Lite Diet). He would constantly encourage me to start the diet, and I finally caved. I lost weight and I felt great.
Lucky didn’t become my friend because I was the editor of the paper. Lucky became my friend because that’s what Lucky did. When you met him, you had a friend for life.
A year ago, Mike Nunneley lost his battle with cancer, and now Lucky is dead.
These two men dedicated their lives to making Mannford a better place, and they made my life better for having known them.
I will miss them both, terribly.