I had several good friends in my life, Marshall was one of them.
Marshall also had the courage to take his own path in life.
He started out in a conventional way, but he was not necessarily a fan of convention.
When I was working hard to learn my profession as an airline pilot and instructor, Marshall was crewing on sailboats that sailed the Pacific and the Seven Seas.
He surprised us all when he settled in Australia.
I spent some months in Australia mostly on the Northeast coastal cities, flying back and forth to Guadalcanal. To experience the welcome of the the Australians and the beauty of the continent was one of the more pleasant and satisfying experiences of my life. I can understand why Marshall chose to settle in Australia. At the time, I did not know Marshall was in Australia or I would have taken the opportunity to meet with him. That was my loss.
Once we re-established contact, we continued to maintain contact, but busy schedules kept us apart.
When we communicated in the final years, he was always upbeat in spite of medical and physical challenges. I had always expected to see Marshall again. Now I find myself having missed every one of those opportunities and my life is diminished as a result.
To think of him a victim of such a terrible cancer is a tragedy for many of us, including his widow and their families.
I will try to remember Marshall as a tall, skinny young fellow with a smile a mile wide who had a kind word for everyone.
His father was a victim of Polio (a terrible scourge of the years before Salk produced his miracle vaccine that pretty much prevented most of my generation from the fear of such a disease. For those of us who got the vaccine, it was a miracle.
Marshall's father was one of those who made a success of himself in spite of his terrible disability. His father's legs were useless without his braces and canes, but I never heard a complaint or saw anything but a smile on his face.
Marshall's mother was a beautiful woman and his sister was also a beautiful young woman. His parents were supportive.
I believe that it was his family where Marshall got his curiosity and positive attitude and outlook on life. His father was a very smart and important person in the local community. He was a real estate broker and developer. I think Marshall got at least some of his positive attitude from his parents, who were some of the most positive people I ever met.
Marshall had many good friend and his friends, with the exception of me, were some of the most accomplished young men in Upland High School. I remember when one of our friends, a young Marine Officer was killed in Vietnam a few years after we graduated from UHS. Both he and I and many others were devastated at the loss.
Marshall found an MGB somewhere, I think he decided that he wanted an MGB and he kept looking for one until he found it. Some of my best high school memories involve accompanying Marshall on some of his adventures in that MGB.
I remember he and I and my German Shepherd named "Terrible" who was sitting behind Marshall and I in that MBG spinning out in large puddles the deserted perimeter road on the south side of the Ontario Airport. Driving down the road with the top of his head above the windshield, making a tangle of his hair, never bothered him. My dog and I were also enjoying the wind as we drove along at whatever speed we could achieve.
I also remember taking Marshall out in an aerobatic aircraft. I was a flight instructor at the time, and I did some aerobatic training at the time and I came out to Upland, Marshall's home in those days, to fulfill a promise that I would take him on a flight. We flew out over what was then the relatively deserted area north of the Ontario Airport. We were flying along straight and level with Marshall looking out the windows watching the passing scene, when I played a dirty trick on Marshall.
It was a tandem seating aircraft and I was in the front and he was in the back. We were flying along and I gradually slowed the aircraft to a very slow speed and performed what is termed a Snap Roll. This is a "spin in a horizontal plane". It worked out perfectly. We made a quick 360 degree roll and returned immediately to straight and level flight. During the roll I looked in the mirror and saw Marshall's face with his arms kind of flailing around.
Marshall asked, "what was that"?
I responded, "What was what"?
I knew it all happened so fast that the experience would have been fleeting and I was hesitant to do anything of a continuing aerobatic nature because I did not want to spoil the experience for Marshall. He probably would have handled it just fine, but my experience with folks who tried to do aerobatics with people who were not pilots, often turned into a terrible case of air sickness. So, to prevent that possibility I only did the one maneuver and acted if nothing had happened. It worked, when we got back on the ground Marshall said he thought he was going to be airsick when the horizon turned around. When I made out like nothing had happened, he said he was no longer airsick. I told Marshall what I had done and he did what I expected, he laughed and got that big grin of his and we went and got something to eat.
Marshall's death is a tragic loss for all of us, but especially for his widow and family.
I never considered what I would say or write at the loss of my life long friend Marshall Miller.
Having provided my poor efforts to express my appreciation for Marshall's life long friendship, I express my sad and sincere condolences to Alana and the two families.
Upland High School
Class of 1964