More than a year ago now, my cousin, Hunter Douglas Miller passed away. He was one of the youngest cousins on my dad’s side, just barely 21. He was an adventurous guy. Hunter died jumping off an 80 foot cliff into a creek downstream of a waterfall in Tucson, Arizona. It’s called Tanque Verde Falls. Bad weather was rolling in upstream and the creek depths had doubled that day. Officials believe he was pinned down in an undercurrent. His friends told authorities, Hunter jumped in and never resurfaced. His body was found the next morning downstream.
I made this design to honor his memory. I hand drew this in Adobe Illustrator CC. I wanted to capture the essence of the scratchy, thorny, dry country and the beauty of the weathered rock and flowing water where my cousin was last seen. Hunter’s mother has started work to put up signs, warning people about the dangers of Tanque Verde Falls. She has gotten a lot of help from local volunteers. I used a pantone color palette in this design so they could make signs and t-shirts.
Hunter was a happy, positive soul. Every summer my dad’s entire family gets together at my grandmother’s farmland in Kansas. To honor Hunter, after a ceremony to celebrate his life, we threw a big party at grandma’s place. We had a ton of bbq, a giant bonfire and fire works. A Hunter family occasion wouldn’t be complete without some big fire works. He would have loved it.
After I graduated high school, I lived with Hunter and his family for a period of time. He was around 6, I was 18. I babysat him a lot. I try to keep reminding myself of some of the funny or profound things he said. I remember one year driving down to Arizona with him, his mother and my sister. The movie Jerry Maguire had recently been released. We watched it 3 or 4 times together and Hunter loved to say that famous line “Show me the money.” It is a long ways from Nebraska to Arizona. Hunter may have been 4 at this time and he really needed to use the restroom. At one point, he removed his seat belt and put his little body between his mother and I in the front seat and exclaimed “Show me the bathroom!” We couldn’t even be mad about him leaving his seat. We all had a good hard laugh.
Over the years I watched him grow into a man. A young, chunky-cheeked, funny kid, turned into a tall, handsome, athletic, humble guy, who just seemed to always be at ease. In high school he was awarded a college scholarship for baseball and was an avid golfer. He was studying Agriculture at the University of Arizona. Every summer you could find him cleaning up grandma’s place. Whether it was clearing bush, fixing something, fishing, growing things in the garden, or mowing, he loved it all.
We all love and miss him. May he never be forgotten and rest in peace.