A recent family gathering in Taft honored the 70th wedding anniversary of John and Betty Miller who have been together since becoming Maricopa High School sweethearts in the late 1930's.
The couple has spent almost their entire life in either Taft or Maricopa owning and operating two businesses, the Ideal Market and Pacific Perforating. John was born in South San Francisco but moved to Maricopa as an infant. Betty was born in Maricopa with her mother Mattie Harkleroad giving birth in the family home. While growing up, Betty's parents Flint and Mattie were proprietors of the Maricopa Grocery Store located downtown on Highway 33. John's parents Leo and Charlotte lived on oil leases surrounding Maricopa. Leo worked in many facets of oil production, most notably operating the McKutheon Lease just north of town.
The couple found each other while attending Maricopa High School. Both were active with the school band and fondly recall marching in the Rose Bowl Parade. They were married in a very formal ceremony at the Bakersfield First Methodist Church on April 26, 1942. They honeymooned in a then new resort called Palm Springs.
During World War II, John enlisted in the Army Air Corps where he became a pilot. His military duty took him to Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and Arkansas, where he flew B-24's and B-25's along with many training aircraft. He continues to fly as co-pilot today. During most of his service Betty was able to find employment at the various bases he was stationed. After the war they moved to Taft running the grocery store and raising three children Johnnie, Roger and Kathy. They purchased Pacific Perforating in 1969 and sold the Ideal Market. Although the business ventures were consuming, John has always found time to stay active with the Rotary Club and was a board member serving Taft College for 32 years.
Having lived in Maricopa and Taft for more than 85 years, the obvious conclusion is: "They haven't gone far in this world." Nothing could be further from the truth. They have traveled to over 50 countries, the most recent excursion to Antarctica in 2005.
The success of their marriage can be partly attributed to their ability to work together. John specialized in sales and management while Betty took care of the accounting. Today they continue to run Santa Barbara Shores, a rental complex near the East Beach of Santa Barbara. Although the moderate climate and interesting activities of Santa Barbara sometimes beckon, the couple prefers to spend most of their time in their comfortable Taft home where they have proximity to family and long-time friendships.
The ceremony marking their marriage milestone took place April 28th at OT's Banquet room. Grandchildren Garret, Kayli, Clay along with Claudia Demas Miller, Stephanie Castro and Kellie McDonald were instrumental in setting up sentimental artifacts and decorating for the occasion. Extended family members were treated to a gourmet lunch, music by the Paul Cierley Jazz Trio and a photographic PowerPoint Presentation depicting their 70 years together. For the Miller family, it was an extraordinarily special day prompting the comment, "The only reason Betty married John is that he promised her a 70th Wedding Anniversary Party in Taft."