William Miller of Mutual Three was born on October 10,1922 in Colwyn, PA, the son of Jacob and Anne Miller. Jacob was a steam fitter and Anne a housewife, and together they had two more children: Marion and Frank.
Life for the family of 5 was not easy in the Great Depression. Jobs were scarce and Bill was lucky enough to get a paper route. All funds earned were put into the family earnings. Bill graduated from Collingdale High School in 1940, and when Pearl Harbor was bombed, he, like many other patriotic men in his community joined the armed services. One quarter of the men in his high school class would not return home.
Bill enlisted in the Navy, and after basic training was sent to Pensacola, FL as an airplane mechanic. Working on Stearman biplanes instilled a life long love of flying. While at Pensacola, Bill learned that the Navy was accepting officer candidates, so worked hard to pass all the requisite tests. He was accepted at the original USC (University of South Carolina) where he graduated and was awarded his commission as an officer. He was then ordered to Long Beach, CA to serve aboard the USS General Anderson. While stationed in Long Beach, he met and married his first wife, to whom two children were born, a son and a daughter.
Bill was then transferred to the USS Midway, which patrolled the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. When the Korean War broke out, Bill completed 3 tours of duty as Executive Officer on board the USS Bon Homme Richard and the USS Redstart.
After completing his service in the Navy, Bill returned to college to obtain an additional degree in mathematics and secondary education. He spent several years teaching high school in Compton and Garden Grove. While teaching, a co-worker informed him there were wonderful opportunities in the fledgling aerospace industry. Submitting his application to Autonetics, he was hired as an aerospace engineer, testing rockets that would soon be used in the Gemini and Apollo space missions. He also wrote programs for the on board computer systems .
Unfortunately, the NASA space program ended, and many talented people were out looking for jobs. Bill spent the last part of his working life in the post office, retiring in 1987.
After Bill’s second divorce, he sold his property in North Long Beach and moved to Leisure World in 1997. He was attracted by the many amenities in the community (especially the free golf) and determined to make this his last home.
Bill’s love of flying continued through his life, and he spent many an hour in the cockpit of a single engine airplane, taking trips all over the country with his favorite dog, Mac, as a co-pilot. His golf clubs were always in the plane as well, and he played courses from Pennsylvania to California, Florida to Washington. He also loved to skeet shoot and play pool, but becoming legally blind cut back on his hobbies. While at Leisure World, Bill has been a member of the pool club, a lifetime member of the VFW, member of the American Legion, and a member of Rolling Thunder. While his lack of sight may hinder some of his hobbies, he is still very aware of current affairs and his memory is sharp as a tack! Bill is also a strong advocate for Shriner’s Hospital for Children, having made it a priority to donate money on a monthly basis for the past 30 years. Bill has been recognized by El Bekal Shriners and Shriner’s International for his continued dedication to the children and support of the hospital.
Having nearly achieved the age of 100, he has outlived just about everybody in his family, including his brother and sister. He has 3 nieces in various parts of the country and one daughter who lives near him in Leisure World.”
Thanks for your patience, Anna. I think I squeezed just about everything in. A work in progress…..