A celebration of life is planned in remembrance of Paul Miller, the Guelph man whose remains were found recently after he was reported lost in California’s Joshua Tree National Park for over a year.
Paul’s sister Dawne Robinson told GuelphToday on Thursday that the celebration is intended to remember him in a way he would have enjoyed and help to bring some closure to the ordeal, which lasted more than a year and a half.
“His story touched a lot of lives,” said Robinson. "We just want to come together and share some happy memories. It definitely won’t be like a funeral, his family doesn’t want an event like that.”
The celebration of life will begin at 7 p.m. on Feb. 1 at the Victoria Park East Golf Club in Guelph.
Those who were touched by Paul's infectious spirit and joy for life are encouraged to come, said a Facebook post about the event.
“He was a special person and he was the first to jump at the chance of any kind of celebration or get together — this one’s for him,” said Robinson.
She described the Feb. 1 celebration of life is intended to be just that — a celebration — not as a sad event.
“We have had enough of that in the last year and a half,” she said. “Now that he’s coming home, the idea is this is a send off for Paul in kind of an Irish wake.
“Hopefully we’ll have a few laughs,” she added.
Robinson said Paul’s wife Stephanie is currently in the United States working to bring home her husband’s remains.
“Coming across the border, there is a fair amount of paperwork you have to go through,” said Robinson.
Paul was last seen alive on July 13, 2018, before going on an early morning solo hike at Joshua Tree National Park before he and Stephanie were to fly home to Guelph later in the day. That began more than a year of the family desperately looking for Paul and awaiting word from authorities.
Last month, the family was told skeletal remains were found by Joshua Tree National Park rangers in a remote, rocky, steep location away from any trails.
A few days ago, a small group of friends and family, including Stephanie, hiked to the spot where Paul was found.
“They told me going into that spot where he was found brought them a lot of peace,” said Robinson. “They weren’t sure how they would feel when they got there, but they said it was a very positive experience.”
“They were able to see why Paul wanted to go there so badly,” she added.