In Memory: Richard O. Miller (1920-2015)

Sgt. Richard O. Miller U.S. Army Air Corps 1945

Sgt. Richard O. Miller
U.S. Army Air Corps 1945

Hilda E. Krause Miller (1921-1997)

Hilda Krause & Dick Miller c. 1942

Hilda Krause & Dick Miller
c. 1942

Hilda & Dick Miller (center) with daughter Susan Pearce (left) & son Dan (right) c. 1965

Hilda & Dick Miller (center) with daughter Susan Pearce (left) & son Dan (right)
c. 1965

Dick & Hilda Miller Golden Wedding Anniversary

Dick & Hilda Miller
Golden Wedding Anniversary

Military Farewell to Richard Miller
Susan K. Pearce, daughter

Richard Miller & daughter Susan St. David's Lutheran 11/28/70

Richard Miller & daughter Susan
St. David’s Lutheran

from Jennerstown UMC “Connections” (2/1/15)

Family and friends said, “Until we meet again” to 94-year old Richard Miller on January 9 at the Jennerstown Church. He had served his community and country well, holding offices in the church, St. James Cemetery, Boswell Fire Company, and U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II. Richard’s 35 missions over Germany as a ball turret gunner in a B-17 earned him several medals. The Somerset County Honor Guard paid full military honors at his memorial service. Pastor Chuck’s message continued the theme, using Paul’s metaphor from Corinthians of the earthly body being just a tent in which to dwell while serving the Kingdom of God. A eulogy was delivered by Richard’s great-granddaughter Abigail Cable, and Angela Kaufman sang the appropriate, “His eye is on the Sparrow.” Afterwards, a meal was served downstairs to celebrate Dick’s life. Susan Pearce, on behalf of her father and rest of the Miller family, wishes to thank everyone at the Jennerstown Church for their prayers during his recent illness and thoughtfulness after his passing. We are confident that he is at peace now, resting in the arms of Jesus.

Richard "Rich" Miller 1940 high school yearbook Boswell, PA

Richard “Rich” Miller
1940 high school yearbook
Boswell, PA

Wears glasses…has light, sandy hair and blue eyes…
spent the evening on the floor at the Junior skating party…popular F.F.A. man.

Remembering the Life of Richard Miller
written 1/5/15
Abigail Cable, great-granddaughter

Great-granddaughter Abbie Cable  & Dick Miller 11/27/14

Great-granddaughter Abby & Dick Miller 11/27/14

Richard Miller, commonly known as Dick, and to his grandchildren, Pappy, was my great -grandfather. He was a feisty one, that guy. Every time you thought it was really over for him, he’d come back a day later with a spring in his step. I like to think that my pap never truly died. He just took a break from fighting for a little while. My pap died this morning.

My pap was once married to one of the most amazing women of all time, Hilda. Gram would always give us cheese in those little plastic wrappers. Unhealthy, absolutely. Did she win over our hearts? Yup, every day. Gram died in 1997. I was only 3 when she passed away, so the only memories I really have of her are of cheese. But I do know I loved that woman as much as a 3 year old could. (Which is a lot.) I also remember giving her a kiss on the glass top of her casket.Pap was married to her for 55 years before she passed away of meningitis. With a love like that, I have no idea how you continue on without your best friend.

But pap never lost his spirit and determination for life. My pap served in WWII in the Army Air Force (1943-1945) attached to the 369 Bomb Squadron as a ball turret gunner on a B17 named “How Soon.” Pap completed 35 missions from his base in England, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, along with other military medals. Pap never talked about serving in the military. Ever. But a few years ago, he started talking some. He pulled out some of his old journals from his time in the service, and I read about a couple close calls he almost had. The detail was so vivid in those journals. When I close my eyes, it’s like I can still see his handwriting.

It’s sad to say for me, but pap and I didn’t become close until he moved up to Laurel View Village about 2 years ago. When I would go cash a check at the bank there, I would make a left and then a right straight back to his room. We’d sit and talk for a little bit, and sometimes, he would cry. I went to visit him a few months ago, and one thing he said to me is something that is still engrained in my mind today: “Abby, I just feel like I’m wasting space here. I can’t do anything, I can’t go where I want to go, I’m just here.” He cried. And so did I. As the months went on, Pap started to forget things more and more, but his humor was still there. I went to visit him one time, and I guess the nurses weren’t letting him go outside that day. His first response upon seeing me was, “Thank God you’re here. Get me out of this damn place!” So, as he requested, I took him for a stroll in his wheelchair outside. I think I gained more from that wheelchair stroll than he did. One time, I went Christmas caroling and made a special detour to pap’s room. I brought along a teddy bear for him. He cried when I gave it to him, and I cried too. As far as I know, he still has that teddy bear. Over the past year, Pap and I cried a lot together. He probably wouldn’t remember if you asked him, and that’s okay. But I’ll always remember the sweet moments when I wiped tears from his soft face.

I never really specifically remember pap telling me he loved me as a kid, and even at his old age when he was fully coherent, he never said it much either. But about 3 months ago, I was getting ready to leave my usual bank visit with him, and this was the day he told me he felt really worthless, like he was just taking up space. We talked for a bit longer, and as I was getting ready to leave, I told him I loved him. And for the first time I can ever remember in my 20 years of being around my great pap, he told me through choked up tears that he loved me too.

About 2 months ago, I was working my job at Auntie Anne’s in the mall. I was taking the bag up to our cart by the food court, and all of a sudden pap comes out of the elevator. I remember literally just staring at him thinking, “….how did he get here?” I knew he didn’t recognize me in my work uniform, so after I delivered the bag to the cart upstairs, I found him sitting beside the bench right outside Auntie Anne’s. I went over to talk to him, and after a few seconds, he remembered that I was Mark’s daughter (he really favored my dad) and then said “this is the biggest store I’ve ever been in!” He never failed to make me laugh. Turns out the residents at Laurel View were having a mall outing, and pap was “tired of being cooped up” so he decided to sign up and go.

As time went on, pap started to forget more and more. Some days, he would say, “Abby, I know I was married one time, but I just don’t remember to who…” and the next day it would turn into “I never liked Hilda.”…and then the next day he would say, “I miss Hilda.” He was a rollercoaster of hilarious sayings and emotional moments, and I don’t take any of the time I spent with him for granted. But I do regret one thing. I regret not spending enough time with him. I learned a lot from my pap. I learned that strength is a part of who we are, even when we’re dying. I learned that part as I watched my pap dying in his hospital bed. I learned that it’s okay to cry. I learned that we may feel like we’re wasting space in this world, but there will be a million people you impacted throughout your life that will tell you differently. Don’t give up. I learned that you’ve gotta be okay with laughing at yourself. But the most important thing I think my pap could’ve ever taught me is that death isn’t the end. In fact, it’s truly just the beginning. A lot of you who are reading this don’t know God or don’t care to know God or hate God because He took someone you love away from you. I understand. I get it. My sole purpose of following Jesus isn’t so I can get to heaven one day. That’s not why I chose to follow Him. Heaven is just a massive added bonus. If we live our lives only with the intent of getting to heaven, we have wasted it all. But BECAUSE of Jesus, I have hope. Guys, this isn’t the end. We don’t just die and become nothing. Our existence does not cease. I know what it’s like to question Jesus and this whole eternity thing, and I remember during that period of my life, it was one of the darkest I have ever known. I felt hopeless. I felt like if this was it, if I was just going to become nothing after I died, then what’s the point? Why am I here? You have a purpose here. Don’t waste this life. This life God has given us is so tiny in comparison to the eternity He has planned for us. This is literally .0000000001% of our lives. This life right here, right now. Am I sad that my pap is gone? Yes. But words cannot even begin to describe the amount of joy (and jealously) I feel, because I know where he is right now, and the Man who is physically embracing Him is the one I worship. So don’t apologize that he’s gone, because this isn’t sad. He’s with Jesus. And that’s the biggest cause for celebration if I’ve ever known one.

Richard & Hilda's gravestone St. James Lutheran Cemetery Jenner Twp., Somerset Co., PA

Richard & Hilda’s gravestone
St. James Lutheran Cemetery
Jenner Twp., Somerset Co., PA

“And we will be with the Lord forever.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17

A Eulogy Letter to Susan about her Dad
written 1/10/15
Judy (Brant) Tuten, a friend

Dear Susan,
Deb Hay sent me an e-mail yesterday to tell me of Dick’s passing. You have my deepest sympathy. He was a great encouragement to me when I moved to Jenner Crossroads after Dave’s passing. It wasn’t too long, I think, after Hilda’s passing, and we had some wonderful conversations, understanding that each of us had lost something special in our lives that we treasured. He missed her so very much, and I like to think that his reunion with her was/is joyous and ongoing. It will be a whole new life with her now. I recall that Jesus said in scriptures that our relationship with others won’t be like they are here on earth, no marriages. But He also indicated in a parable (Lazarus and the beggar) that we will remember our earthly lives. We will have eternity to enjoy the company of family and friends in our new bodies that feel no pain.

I was having trouble installing a toaster oven under a kitchen counter in my new apartment. Hoping he wouldn’t mind, I called and asked him hesitantly if he could assist, and he was happy to come over. I believe he held the oven in place while I used a screwdriver because he couldn’t see the screws, but that was exactly what I needed. Afterward we talked for a long time about his military service as a machine gune operator beneath fighter planes during the war. The very thought of sitting in a bubble under a plane, exposed to other planes and their guns, gave me chills. He thought of it as something he had to do, so he just did it.

Dick was especially encouraging during my tenure on the Mission Team in JUMC [Jennerstown United Methodist Church]. I wanted a cadre of older church members to provide advice for the team when considering plans for outreach. Dick was my first choice. He and I had spoken several times about the pastor’s sermons and the direction the church was taking at that time, and I knew his comments would be insightful and faith-driven. We were embarking on untried territory (for our church) in missions, with a trip to Haiti, a local transportation ministry to bring nursing home residents to and from the church service, and an afghan ministry involving our shut-ins. He never failed to give a few words of wisdom, and even said that he was encouraged by us. Those were words we needed to hear. Now that I think about it, I find that even more remarkable because none of our plans provided any involvement with him, other than the planning stages.

He was a gentle soul with a cheerful outlook on life, and a ready smile. I will always be grateful for his influence on my life. I look forward to seeing him again. Fondly,
[signed] Judy (Brant) Tuten

A Letter to the Editor, Johnstown Tribune-Democrat
published 3/3/15, “Readers’ Forum”
re-published 3/8/15, Somerset Daily American
Sheila Kaufman Farrer, a friend

Recently, my friend lost her beloved father. He was 94, an Army Air Corps veteran of World War II and was a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross. This gentleman, like my own father, answered the country’s call to service – along with hundreds of thousands of men and women. They became known as The Greatest Generation, and for the past decade or longer their ranks have been decreasing by more than 1,000 a day. With them die firsthand memories of conflicts in Europe, the South Pacific and northern Africa. Also with them go the experiences of the worldwide economic depression, with its images of regular folks losing their savings and homes, standing in bread lines, living in hovels near railroad tracks and grieving over their midwestern fields decimated with dust. Those were the realities of life during the Great Depression. So with the passing of World War II veterans and their contemporaries go the memories of those who knew hardship and survival against terrific odds.

In contrast, according to economist Walter Williams, in his column on Feb. 12, 2014, (“Dependency, not poverty,”, of today’s people whom the U.S. Census Bureau labels as poor, 80 percent have air conditioning and two-thirds have cable or satellite television, among other luxuries. In this era of excesses in the public and private sectors, I doubt that today’s generations could meet the tests of survival with the courage, strength and sacrifice of The Greatest Generation. Let us not replace those qualities with complacency and entitlement.
[signed] Sheila Kauffman Farrer, Jennerstown

Articles about Dick & Hilda’s lives

The Gunner & the Riveter

Hilda E. & Richard O. Miller Newly weds Baltimore 1943

Hilda & Dick Miller
Baltimore 1943

35 Missions over Germany

B-17 ("How Soon") & Ball turret gunner Richard O. Miller (right) England 1944

B-17 (“How Soon”) & Ball turret gunner
Richard O. Miller (right)
England 1944

 Richard’s D-Day Journal

A WORLD AWAY but CLOSE TO HOME by Eric B. Greisinger

Eric B. Greisinger

Excerpts from Greisinger’s A World Away but Close to Home

Articles from Stars & Stripes June 1944
(click on image to enlarge/back button to return)WWIIClippingsSmallWWIIClippingsLongPhoto Album

"RO" Miller at Jenner Twp. Reservoir, that he & his men built Taken Autumn 1999

“RO” Miller at Jenner Twp. Reservoir that he & his men built
Taken Autumn 1999

"RO" Miller, retired cement contractor, at former project: Jenner Twp. Reservoir Autumn 1999

“RO” Miller, retired cement contractor, at former project:
Jenner Twp. Reservoir
Autumn 1999

Miller Cement Contracting crew: Rev. Don Speigle, "RO" Miller, and Rev. Harry Blough c. 1950's

Miller Cement Contracting crew: Rev. Don Speigle, “RO” Miller, and Rev. Harry Blough
c. 1950’s

R.O. Miller, cement contractors c. 1950

R.O. Miller, cement contractor
Stoughton Lake c. 1950


"RO" Miller (gray hat, center), son-in-law Larry Pearce (red hat), and his brother Carl Pearce (white shirt, right)  Bridge project to Larry's new house, Oct. 1974

“RO” Miller (gray hat, center), son-in-law Larry Pearce (red hat), & his brother Carl Pearce (white shirt)
Bridge project to Larry’s new house Oct. 1974

Ralph Pearce & "RO" Miller pouring Larry & Susan's new front entrance July 5, 1976

Ralph Pearce & “RO” Miller pouring Larry & Susan’s new front entrance
July 5, 1976

From cement work to woodwork: a Dick Miller birdhouse

From cement work to woodwork:
a Dick Miller birdhouse

Other Articles about the Miller Homestead

Howard Miller farm, Somerset Co., PA (c.1950)

Howard Miller farm,  Somerset Co., PA (c.1950)

Richard & the Bull

Lost Civilizations of the Quemahoning

Department of Defense Memorial St. James Cemetery Jenner Twp., Somerset Co., PA

Department of Defense Memorial
St. James Cemetery
Jenner Twp., Somerset Co., PA

We hope that after reading this, you’ll take just a moment and share with others a memory you have of Dick and Hilda in the space below. On behalf of our family, thanks.

2 Responses to In Memory: Richard O. Miller (1920-2015)

  1. Cindy Krause Leonhardt says:

    Aunt Hilda and Uncle Dick were two of my favorite people to visit when we went to PA to see the family. I have a painting Aunt Hilda did for me of an old mill and I have a log house style bird house, made and signed by Uncle Dick. They are treasured possessions and I think of Hilda and Dick every time I look at them.

    Since we live in Wyoming we didn’t get back east often and so I never got to spend as much time with the aunts and uncles as I would have liked. Hilda and Dick came to Wyoming to visit us three times that I remember, and we were always so glad to have them come. I remember taking Uncle Dick fishing and he said he hadn’t caught a fish for many years and he was so excited. On the fishing trip we stopped to look at some oil wells and took his picture with one. Every time I drive by that oil well I think ‘that’s Uncle Dick’s oil well.’ We laughed about it at the time. He said he’d be rich now that he had an oil well. I also remember him rock hunting on the hill behind our house and hitting his hand with a rock hammer. There was so much blood, but he didn’t make a fuss about it, or let it slow him down. Another trip we took them to Yellowstone and actually saw a grizzly bear, which isn’t always the case. Unfortunately, Dick had such a migraine he couldn’t even get out of the car. I know he enjoyed the rest of the trip though. The last time Hilda and Dick came to Wyoming was 1978 and it was for my father’s funeral – Floyd Alton Krause, called Alton by everyone in his family.

    When Laurin and I were back to PA in 1996 Hilda and Dick took us all around to see the sights and showed us where family lived. We went out to the Presbyterian Farm and heard a lot of stories that sadly were not recorded, as my tape recorder wasn’t working correctly. Uncle Dick took us to Krause’s Soft Freeze for ice cream and we had a really lovely day. They took us to Grantsville for the Krause reunion and what a ride. Uncle Dick was an expert with the horn I believe. I had no idea that would be the last trip where I would see Aunt Hilda, but enjoyed subsequent visits with Uncle Dick in 2002, 2005, and 2010. We would talk on the phone periodically.

    I don’t have any major memories to share, but wanted to mention just a few that I hold dear to my heart and I know Laurin thought a great deal of Uncle Dick as well. He was a good person in every way and I loved him.

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