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About Frederic Young Miller

Any words within square brackets were added later, by me, in the editing process. --Jerrianne (Johnson) Lowther

On November 14, 2007, David Barratt [Miller] Ring wrote:

Some background on Fred Miller and Eileen Greear

You said you know little about my parents, so here is a short account. My mother, Helen Eileen Greear, was born December 4, 1919, in Sommerton, Arizona. She was one of six children of Shady Lee Greear and Eda J. Underwood. Shady was (I'm told) a prospector who never settled down.

The family seems to have moved back and forth between California and Texas, with several of my mom's siblings ending up in Texas, but while they were living in Upland (at the time, North Ontario), my mom spent a lot of time visiting the Harnish family at 61 Vernon Drive.

Jacob Harnish (his wife dead) had moved out from Pennsylvania with sons Dewey and Earl and daughters Lily and Ruby. Lily opened Harnish Dry Goods in downtown Upland and Ruby was a homemaker. Neither ever married.

Dewey fought in World War I, where he was injured by mustard gas and later got tuberculosis. Amazingly, he survived, nursed for two years by his sisters, and made a full recovery. He studied architecture at UC Berkeley, founded the firm of Harnish, Morgan and Causey, designed many hospitals and libraries in southern California, and married Jerene Appleby, publisher of the Ontario Daily Report, after the death of her first husband.

My mom always liked his old sweetheart, Gladys Wilson, better, and when Jerene died, she got them back together (Gladys was also widowed) and they married when he was 84 and had several happy years together!

Anyway, the Harnishes became fond of my mom, whom they called "Tootsee" and informally adopted her. Her family acquiesced, I guess, the Harnishes being a lot better off and childless, and my mom still remained close to her siblings emotionally, if not physically.

Growing up, she went to Chaffey High School in Ontario, where she met Fred Miller through working on the yearbook (Fasti) and another publication (Driftwood -- I haven't been able to determine what this was).

When Fred finished high school in 1939 (a year after my mom; he was younger), he enlisted in the army. I'm not sure why; when his letters begin, it was a fait accompli, and his sentiments were very much that the war and the army were necessary evils he would rather be out of. I can't tell if he enlisted from a sense of duty, despite his later complaints, or because he would have been drafted anyway, or because he thought it was a possible path to the medical career he wanted.

After a brief time in the Bay Area (the same time Edward Miller went up to Kodiak Island), Fred was posted to Tripler Hospital on Oahu as an orderly and was in Hawaii and cared for patients of the Pearl Harbor attack. In 1941 or 1942, he transferred to the Army Air Corps for cadet training, which got him back to southern California and near enough to meet my mom on weekend leaves.

They became engaged in 1942 or 1943, but before they could marry, Fred washed out of flight training and was shipped to Ireland, again as a medical orderly. From there, he soon moved to England and later to France, well behind active areas of combat, but getting a lot of surgical and other medical experience.

After the war, I have far fewer letters. He and my mom were married almost immediately after his discharge. (Fred had enough accumulated overseas service to escape being sent to the Pacific theater.) They moved up to San Francisco, I think, where he finally got the medical degree he wanted.

I was born in 1951, at San Antonio Community Hospital in Upland, then moved up to San Francisco for a year or two before their divorce. Afterward, my mom moved back to Upland and lived with the Harnishes again, until a brief and unsuccessful second marriage. We then lived briefly in Covina, near my mom's sister, and then on I Street in Ontario.

My mom was introduced to Robert C. Ring, a mechanical and electrical engineer, by Dewey Harnish, and they soon married. We moved to north Euclid Avenue in Upland and stayed there until I went to college, at which time my parents moved up to Red Bluff and later Redding. My mom died in 1985, and my adoptive father in 2001.

My only personal memory of Fred Miller was a time he visited me at I Street in Ontario when I was probably in first grade. I was fascinated at the time with the solar system (Sputnik was up or soon would be), but couldn't figure out how the moon managed to show only one face while orbiting the earth. Fred showed me, using two little bronze bowls that I think had been one of his gifts to my mom; I still have them (image below). He died (my mom told me) in 1970, and there is a record on the web that he is buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.

Photo © David B. Ring
The bowls my father, Fred Miller, used to demonstrate how the moon shows only one face; he moved the small bowl in orbit while turning it to keep the same face presented.