In Memory of
Wilma Arlene Miller
May 30, 1921–January 5, 2020
Wilma was born May 30, 1921 in Battle Ground, Washington, an only daughter with six brothers. She cooked for her father’s logging and sawmill crews and worked with the choker setters as a “whistle punk”, relaying instructions to the “donkey puncher” operating the steam powered winches out of sight on the landing above.
Education was important in the Hall family. Wilma began courses in dietetics but then chose nursing as a profession. In training at Portland Sanitarium and Hospital, she met a handsome surgery resident. They were married as he was inducted into the Navy. A year later the war in the Pacific was over, and LT (JG) Don Miller was honorably discharged. The young couple settled in Crescent City, California, with their newborn son. Don’s practice flourished as he brought in four associates. A decade later the Miller family, now with three children, moved to Nuevo Leon Mexico where Don was medical director of the Montemorelos Adventist Hospital. From Mexico it was north to Texas where Wilma served in dual roles as surgical charge nurse and dietician at Miller Hospital located between Dallas and Ft. Worth. Another decade passed and the family moved to a ranch in southern Oregon. Don was part of the surgical team at the Roseburg VA and had a busy family practice for another 10 years. After the children were launched into their medical careers, the ranch, cattle and running horses were sold, and Wilma and Don retired to Sandy, Oregon.
Wilma’s early experience became invaluable as the two of them embarked on the adventures of a lifetime, relieving missionary physicians in East Africa, South America, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, the islands of the Pacific and helping build the medical mission boat “Canvasback”. They helped construct churches and clinics and worked with their son Gordon to establish an ophthalmology residency program at Montemorelos University and Medical School. In the refugee camps they heard booming howitzers repelling Khmer Rouge attacks, and only hours separated them from a missionary doctor’s murder on the Burmese border and mass suicide at Jonestown. Wilma could assist at surgery, make a delicious meal out of whatever food was available, plant a garden and as a silent partner provide the support and comfort that made Don’s medical work possible. They were a team for 47 years.
Wilma’s life was shattered with Don’s sudden death in 1993. Again, her courage and adaptability was put to the test. She maintained their home and acreage in the foothills east of Portland, and when that became too much moved to a retirement center and then on to a new apartment on Gordon’s farm overlooking the beautiful Willamette Valley south of Salem, Oregon. She worked in Gordon’s eye surgery center, teaching and reassuring patient families as they observed procedures through his operating microscope by video link, finally retiring at age 90.
During her last years, she was lovingly cared for by Gordon and his wife Julie, Leopaldo and Paulina Cortes and their children. With her loved ones at her side, she quietly went to sleep on January 5, 2020, waiting for the Lord’s return.
Wilma was preceded in death by her husband, Donald B. Miller, MD, and her son, Gordon A. Miller, MD. She is survived by her son, Edward B. Miller, MD (Nancy), daughter Barb Rebok R.N. (Doug), Gordon’s wife Julie, three grandchildren, and eight great grandchildren.