Ralph W. MillerMarch 27th, 2021 | Paid Obituary
Ralph W. Miller passed away peacefully on the morning of March 18, 2021. Ralph was loved by all who knew him, and was an inspiration to family, friends and anyone who heard his life story. On November 26, 1919, Ralph was born in Kokomo, Indiana, the second of eight children of Ernest M. & Susie B. Miller. He treasured his years growing up on the family farm in Fulton County, Indiana. Family and friends have often said, "Ralph's the strongest man" they have ever known. Strong, kind, generous, courageous, loving, witty, determined and brilliant — Ralph was all of these and more! From an early age, Ralph dreamed of flying. Before he was old enough to enlist in the U.S. Army, he asked his mother to sign for him, so he could pursue his dream of flying. He was trained as an airplane mechanic and sent to Panama in 1941. On his own time, he studied and exercised late at night, so that he would be mentally and physically prepared for flight training. In June, 1942, his application was approved, and eight months later, he graduated as a Flight Officer from Blackland Army Flying School, Class 43-B. From February, 1943 until September, 1944, Flight Officer Miller was an instructor pilot at bases in Louisiana and Florida, where his students included superior officers. In September, 1944, he eagerly left on a troop ship out of New York, to serve in the WWII European Theater of Operations (ETO). Once in Europe, Flight Officer Miller was recognized as an exceptional B-26 pilot, and was transferred to detached service as a Pathfinder pilot. He led groups of the 9th Air Force, flying 55 missions, to support the liberation of France, the Netherlands, and Belgium. In the winter of 1944-1945, Ralph led groups to provide air support for the Battle of the Bulge, and was promoted to Captain in the Spring of 1945. For his service to his country, he received numerous decorations, citations and awards. Those include the Distinguished Flying Cross, WWII Victory Medal, American Theater Service Medal, several Air Medals, Distinguished Unit Badge, Pre-Pearl Harbor Ribbon and the European-African-Middle Eastern Service Medal. In 2012, Ralph was appointed a "Chevalier" of the Legion of Honor by decree of President Hollande of France. In January 1946, Ralph received his commercial pilot rating, to continue his flying dream. Before he could begin flying as a commercial pilot, he was stricken with polio and spent seven months in the James Whitcomb Riley hospital in Indianapolis, where he met a beautiful cadet nurse, Betty. Ralph and Betty married in September, 1947, and began their married life together in Indiana. From Indiana, Ralph and Betty moved to Florida for a few years, and then to Texarkana in the Fall of 1950. During the 1950s, Ralph and Betty welcomed Janet, Linda and Susan. After a few years working at the electric company, Ralph helped open Wadley Hospital, serving as the Business Office Manager and Purchasing Agent for several years. He retired in 1977 with a perfect attendance record, and pursued his hobbies of fishing, card games, home improvements, and travel. During his 70-plus years as a Texarkana resident, Ralph was a generous contributor to the community. He volunteered with the Bowie County Child Welfare Board, the March of Dimes, Texarkana Little Theatre, and donated more than 114 pints of his O-negative (universal donor) blood. One donation occurred during emergency surgery at Wadley Hospital, when a surgeon-friend asked Ralph to meet him in surgery, where Ralph provided a direct transfusion to help save an infant's life. With his complex medical history, it was important for Ralph to "give back" even after his death. He was accepted by the Willed Body Program at UT Southwestern, and was very pleased to have a plan of "going to medical school" after his death. Ralph's love of travel was a gift for his family. The family traveled to the Seattle World's Fair in 1962, to Big Bend National Park in 1964, to Europe for an up-close and personal history lesson in 1969, and to Indiana as frequently as possible, to attend Miller Family get-togethers. "Uncle Ralph" was a favorite of nieces and nephews, and everyone loved listening to his stories, told as only he could tell them. Ralph is survived by his daughter, Susan Miller Harris; two sons-in-law, Richard W. Harris and Dr. C. Jack Smith; one sister, Millie Bemenderfer. He was predeceased by his wife, Betty, and two daughters, Linda Miller Smith and Janet Miller Bedford. He is also survived by a number of nieces and nephews, one grandson and four great-grandchildren. A Celebration of Ralph's Life will be led by Rev. Sherri Waters-Clem at Williams Memorial United Methodist Church in Texarkana, TX; Saturday, April 10, 2021 at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to the Temple Memorial Pediatric Center in Texarkana, TX — templememorialpediatric.com — or the charity of your choice.