Jesse Hazlett Miller Jr., OD - May 31, 1924 - Feb. 7, 2020
Jesse Hazlett Miller Jr., 95, of Springfield, passed away on Feb. 7, 2020 from pneumonia, after a prolonged battle with Parkinson's.
He was born May 31, 1924, in Portland, Ore., to Jesse H. and Ruth Anne (Tindula) Miller. Jess was the grandson of early pioneers of Columbia County who came on two ships from Scotland, around the Horn to San Francisco and then on to Scappoose, settling in Pittsburg, Ore., in the 1880s. They were registered with the Oregon Genealogical Society.
He attended Portland schools and entered Oregon State University just as World War II was starting. Following in his father's footsteps, he entered the V-12 Navy College Training Program (predecessor to the NROTC), which sent him to Montana School of Mines; when that school was overcrowded, he was sent to the University of Washington and then Midshipman's School at Columbia University in N.Y.
With a degree in electrical engineering, an ensign's commission and an interest in small ships he was sent to San Diego, to Pearl Harbor and then to Hilo for a short time on a PC (coastal patrol/submarine chaser) before being sent back to Pearl and eventual assignment to a YP (yard patrol) – basically a 48-foot tuna boat used as a refrigerated cargo ship. Sailing supply runs to Johnston Island, Midway Island and the mysterious Palmyra atoll, his ship relied on his newly learned skills at navigation.
After the end of the war, he decided to take advantage of the G.I. Bill and entered Pacific University to study optometry (like his father) while remaining with the Naval Reserves. Upon earning his degree he was one of only two optometrists in the Navy. He stayed in the Reserves for 18 years.
It was also at Pacific University that he met and fell in love with Phyllis Beima, also of Portland, Ore., and the two married on July 23, 1950. They were married for 69 years.
They chose to settle in Springfield, and he started his optometry practice at 437 Main St., and eventually at 840 N. ”A” St., specializing in developmental vision and vision therapy to overcome learning and reading difficulties. He shared his knowledge and expertise with many other optometrists, retiring after 43 years.
Jess helped with the initial fundraising to establish McKenzie-Willamette Hospital.
When asked by a director of the Willamalane Park Board, he stepped up to fill a seat, helping to find a budgeting mistake. He held that position for two years.
When Springfield Mayor Bill Rogers asked him to fill a position on the Planning Commission, Jess did that for six years.
Jess liked to fish, hunt, and especially liked to shoot, starting in the 1960s with a team at the Moose Lodge in Eugene and later at the Emerald Empire Gun Club, holding several club offices. He was well-known for his shooting abilities, eagerly shared his expertise and competed at the State Championships level in target pistol, and in later years with the Cast Bullet Association, setting some national class records.
Jess was the loving and sharing father of five: Mervin Miller (Allyson) of Iowa, Mark Miller (Susan) and Myrna Miller of Springfield, Ore., Myron Miller (Sheryl) of Michigan and Marleen (Doug) Setniker of Washington. He had seven grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, and loved and encouraged them all.
A funeral service was held on Feb. 18 at Lane Memorial Funeral Home.