March 3, 1930 - June 25, 2016
It might initially appear when a person spends the bulk of his 86 years within a 20-mile radius that this is most likely an insignificant life. But that assumption is proven false when one examines the life of long-time Downey resident Dale Miller.
Born on March 3, 1930, of Germanic immigrants, Clarence Dillivan Miller and Eva Thiel Miller, at their home in South Gate, CA, Dale was the younger brother to his sister Betty. Dale’s father had poured himself into starting a general machine shop, “Miller’s Garage,” in South Gate. The senior Mr. Miller started Dale welding before the youngster began elementary school, and Dale demonstrated a natural curiosity of not only understanding how things work, but looking to see how things could work more effectively. Dale attended the “original” Old River Elementary School in Downey, where he established some important life-long friendships. He met one of his best friends, Robert Comstock, whose mother, Winnie O. Comstock, was a teacher at Old River School. It was noted that Mrs. Comstock would take Dale to Sunday School along with her son, Robert, and her younger daughter, Marilyn, would also tag along.
In the 1940’s, Dale attended Downey Junior High School and Downey Senior High School in grades 7-12. The location of these schools is today’s Downey High School. (Current R and S Buildings are remnants of that era.) Dale was active in a church-sponsored /Y-Club, known as the “Top Hatters.” Although the affiliation was definitely all “above board,” and its purpose was to advance church and Y-values, through the years, folklore has propagated the post-meeting activities. According to legend, the after-meeting antics often included experimentation with some kind of explosives in a variety of Downey orange groves, generally attributed to advancing understanding of the principles of Chemistry and Physics. Another noteworthy high school event, occurring during Dale’s junior year, was Dale’s membership on the Downey Senior High School’s 1945 championship football team, which played its final game of the season in the Rose Bowl. Dale’s father had passed away while Dale was still in high school, so he had already assumed a position at Miller’s Garage while attending classes to earn his diploma. Upon high school graduation in 1947, Dale went to work full-time at Miller’s Garage, to support his mother and sister, and he further honed his mechanics skillset.
Over the next several years, Dale’s friendship with Robert Comstock took a bit of a turn in that Dale noticed that Robert’s little tag-along sister had blossomed, and Dale asked Mrs. Comstock for permission to date Marilyn. After that, there was no escaping from the magic spell that had been cast by Marilyn. The only roadblock was a world event: the Korean War. Dale was drafted at age 21 and served 2 years in the US Army, in the motor pool, stationed in Japan. Upon his return, Dale and Marilyn were married in 1953 at the First Baptist Church of Downey.
Upon marriage, Dale and Marilyn settled in Downey, where they raised their daughters, Dalyn (Miller-Geiser) and Dayna (Novak). In the late 1950’s, Dale started driving semis for Los Angeles area businesses – but within several years, Dale took the bold step, like his father, and Dale and Marilyn agreed that Dale should start his own business: Dale’s Transport in Vernon. Over the next half-century, Dale maintained his fleet of over 100 vehicles, and after the industry in Vernon changed in response to the economy, he adapted Dale’s Transport to still service the trucking businesses. Over the years, Dale evidenced that he held value in building and maintaining relationships. Many of his employees have worked for Dale over 30 years, including his daughters and their family members as part of the Dale’s Transport team. Dale maintained control of his business through the duration of his life. As he viewed it, work gave him a purpose – one of the jobs that God intended him to fulfill.
Even though managing a business is a full-time endeavor, Dale prioritized his faith and his family. He was never too busy to teach his daughters to make a softball smoke in a long throw to third base, to help build a school project, to discuss why ducks float, or to go on a bike ride. Dale served the Lord through his teaching of Sunday School to elementary school children for over 30 years at the First Baptist Church of Downey. As his family watched him prepare his lessons through the week, his genuine excitement in having the opportunity to share the good news of salvation was inspiring.
About 20 years ago, Dale and Marilyn moved from Downey to nearby La Habra Heights where Dale could do some gentleman’s farming with a bit more space, participate closely in their grandsons’ activities, and watch their daughter ride her horses. In recent years, Dale contracted frontal temporal dementia. While he remained with the family in body, the disease slowly took away his voice and then, ultimately his earthly presence. Dale Miller went home to be with the Lord on June 25, 2016. Dale is survived by wife, Marilyn, daughters and their families, Dalyn Miller-Geiser & Norm Geiser, and Dayna & Brian Novak, and their sons, David, Daran, and Daniel. A memorial service to celebrate the life of Dale Miller will be on Saturday, July 9, 2016, Sky Rose Chapel, at Rose Hills Memorial Park. Questions regarding the service may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. In lieu of flowers, it is family’s wish that donations be made to UCI Mind (Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders); Alzheimer’s Association; or the Billy Graham / Franklin Graham Evangelistic Association.