Prominent Taft couple met in Maricopa, married in 1942
The saying goes:” True love stands the test of time.”
For John and Betty Miller that has certainly proven correct.
A family celebration will take place April 22, 2017 for the two who have been together since becoming Maricopa High School sweethearts in the late 1930’s. They were married April 26, 1942 at the Bakersfield Methodist Church.
All their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will be able to attend the celebration.
“We have been bragging since Christmas about this milestone; these two are truly inseparable.”, said son Roger L. Miller of Taft. “I’m very proud of Mom and Dad,” daughter Katherine Miller commented. “Imagine, 75 YEARS!”
That pride comes from more than the longevity of their relationship. In the last five years, they have been named to the Taft College Community Spirit Award, Christmas Parade Grand Marshall and Taft College Hall of Fame.
Having always been over-achievers, they stay active by attending local concerts, Taft College programs, church, movies, house and garden tours. Two of their latest, most memorable experiences were meeting with Dodger announcer Vin Scully and Jeopardy host Alex Trebek.
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.
They met 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. When World War II erupted, 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. During most of his service Betty could find employment at the various bases he was stationed. He continued to fly smaller Cessna and Beech Bonanza Aircraft until 2015.
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 always found time to stay active with the Rotary Club and was a Taft College board member for 32 years.
Having lived in Maricopa and Taft for more than 90 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 and all seven continents, 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. They cite the secret to their love story as hard work, faith, confidence and pride in each other.
The entire Miller family can bear witness to their enduring connection. The positive example they have maintained has captivated younger generations. Grandchildren Garret, Kayli, Clay along with Claudia Demas Miller, Stephanie Castro and Kellie McDonald are amazed at their triumph of true love. The youngest family member, who may garner the most attention, is three-month-old great-granddaughter Olivia Joy.
The celebration calls for a gourmet lunch, and a photographic Power Point Presentation depicting their 75 years together. Family friend Mark Hall and the group Studio “O,” featuring Michel Becca and Mickey O’Hearn will provide music.
“For us, it’s just our pleasure to be able to celebrate and be a part of such a momentous occasion,” the Millers agreed. “It really warms our hearts.”