- Don Miller
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Memories of Don Miller
Donald Tyler Miller, Class of 1957
My dear brother Don passed away in 2009 at a long term care facility in Rancho Bernardo, California. Don was able to enjoy life in his later years with the support of his family, especially his eldest daughter, Donna Miller Hackworth, while he was cared for in a nice rural home like setting at the long term care facility. He was wheel chair bound for about 24 years after suffering neurological injuries from a severe rollover auto accident as a passenger in a company vehicle while traveling on the large factory grounds at Ford Aerospace Corp. military ordnance plant in the hills above San Juan Capistrano. His accident occured in 1985 leaving him in a coma for nearly six weeks. But with superb neurological physicians' care and follow on therapy he regained his concsiousness, cognitive skills, speech and ability to use his upper body quite well.
Don had many friends and relatives in Southern Calif. He lived life to the max prior to his accident. He was an especially good mechanic and quick at learning anything to do with machines, autos, and was one of Ford Aerospace's top plant facility maintenance technicians. As a young boy, Don learned to make superbly crafted balsa wood and paper covered wing airplane models from scratch using elaborate plans rather than kits. He advanced to motorized flying models and especially loved to fly his "free flight" planes and "u-control" racing planes. Anything with an engine in it fascinated Don.
Don had a wonderful dark green 1940 Deluxe Ford Business Coupe during his Junior and Senior years at IHS. He did his own skillful restoration work at home on his Ford. Don learned auto upholstery while working for an old master, Mr. Reuter, in Los Angeles at his shop on Slausen Ave. He then reupholstered his own car and it was a show quality job including special reclining seats. He could be seen driving all around town in his '40. He learned production machine shop skills at our father's large machine shop in Inglewood (F.R. Miller Machine Co.). He then worked for Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica for several years and furthered his machine tool and die making skills there. He then worked for BergMaster in Gardena and Garrett AirResearch in Torrance before moving his family to Orange County where he joined the Ford Aerospace Corp. team based in Newport Beach.
One of Don's favorite pastimes was riding motorcycles on off-road trails - "dirt bikes" as we used to call them. He was a very good rider and would also do his own repairs. He was an expert motorcycle painter and detailer, again showing his artistic side. Don had some favorite cars: '40 Ford Coupe, early Suburu Forester 4WD wagon, 1963-1/2 Ford Falcon V8 Station Wagon, 1972 Cadillac ElDorado, and a nice early eighties Ford Thunderbird.
Don had three brothers: Eugene (IHS 1952), LeRoy (IHS 1956) and Richard (IHS 1960). Don is survived by his second wife Linda, and four adult children Donna, Barbara, James, and Tracey.
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