Gail Schaeffer Miller passed away on Feb. 17, 2014 in Altus at the age of 94. He was born on Dec. 29, 1919 in Rulo, Neb. to Nellie Lucille (Schaeffer) and Gail Alexander Miller. He graduated from Rulo High School in 1938 and immediately began to pursue his childhood dream of joining the Army Air Corps.
That pursuit led him to enlist in the United States Army in 1941 and to complete navigator's training at Mather Air Field in Sacramento, Calif., earning his navigation wings as a Flight Officer in 1942. In short order, Gail joined a B-24 crew and was stationed in Darwin, Australia with the 380th Bomb Group 5th Air Force. During World War II, he was one of only five crew members to survive a plane crash and was awarded the Purple Heart. In 1945, he returned to the states and was stationed at Curtis Army Air Field in Brady, Texas, Perrin Army Air Field in Sherman, Texas, and Vance Air Field in Enid. He retired from active duty as a Major in 1947 and from the Air Force Reserves as a Colonel in 1989.
After leaving active duty, Gail earned a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and School Administration from Peru State College in Peru, Neb., and a Master's Degree in Psychology and School Administration from Peabody College in Nashville, Tenn., and completed post graduate work in psychology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Securing a position with the American Institute of Research, Gail moved to Pittsburg, Pa., and began developing a test program for standardization board use in the Strategic Air Command. In 1953, he began his civil service career in West Palm Beach, Florida as an Educational Specialist developing training programs for flight crews. His civil service career took him to Tinker Air Force Base in Midwest City and then Altus Air Force Base as Chief of Training for the 443rd Wing of the Military Airlift Command. Gail received numerous Outstanding Performance Awards and Sustained Superior Performance Awards throughout his years of service, retiring in 1989.
Gail maintained a life-long interest in libraries, attending two White House Conferences on Libraries in 1979 and 1991, receiving the Oklahoma Library Association Special Meritorious Service Award in 2002, and being named an Oklahoma Library Legend in 2007. He was a member of the Altus Lions Club for the last 45 years, served in various leadership positions including District 3-L Governor, and was a recipient of a Melvin Jones Fellowship, the highest achievement award possible in Lionism. He has also been a faithful member and leader in the Grace United Methodist Church for the last 45 years.
Gail was preceded in death by his parents; his beloved wife of 42 years, Sally (Sara) Rae Munson; three sisters, Nellie Foote, Glenda Fontenay, and Gretchen Kline; and his dear companion during their later years, Theresa Brotherton.
He is survived by his oldest sister, Maralee Shadle of Petaluma, Calif.; two daughters, Katherine Hale of Altus, and Jeanine Berrong and her husband Brad of Weatherford; and two grandsons, Jeff Berrong and his wife D'Ann of Weatherford, and Michael Berrong of Weatherford.
A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Friday at Grace United Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials to the Oklahoma Lions Service Foundation, the Southern Prairie Library System or the Grace United Methodist Church.
Online tributes may be made to the family at www.Lowell-Tims.com