May 23, 1915 - February 12, 2013
John Martin Miller, longtime resident of Hot Springs, died peacefully Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at the VA with Jane, his wife of almost 70 years and their son John (Jock) at his side. He was 97 years old.
John was born May 23, 1915, the son of Hugo and Gunda Miller. He spent much of his childhood in Sioux Falls before the family moved to the Chicago area. While his father was chef at the famed Palmer House, John caddied at an Evanston Golf Course and thus began his lifelong love of the sport.
At age 16, the entire family moved to Hot Springs and lived in the Evans Hotel, where his father ran the kitchen, his mother managed the Evans dining room and John's older brother Claude worked in the bar area.
With the outbreak of WWII
, John joined the Army
Air Corps and received pilots' training in Santa Ana, Calif., before being stationed in Deming, N.M., where he married Jane Andre. After training as a B-29 bombardier, John and his crew were deployed to Guam, where they flew the war's longest bombing mission ever in the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre, to the northern-most tip of Honshu, the largest island of Japan.
After the war, John managed the Tomahawk Country Club in Deadwood before working for the federal government; first in Rapid City and then moving his family to Angostura Dam after its completion to perform inspections and maintenance of the irrigation project. John's next post was the Hot Springs Veterans Administration Hospital grounds where he was Asst. Chief of the Engineering Dept., participating in the addition of the southern approach road to the VA via the extension of South Fifth Street, draining of the VA pond, and numerous mechanical, electrical, plumbing, concrete and construction projects with the buildings themselves.
John (class of 1931), Jane (class of 1939) and their son Jock (class of 1963) were all graduates of Hot Springs High School.
After WWII few could make golf a career sufficient to support a family and so golf remained an important part of John's life but was not his vocation. During the years 1945–1960, "Johnny," as he was known on the golf circuit, won every tournament in the Black Hills at least once, including the Black Hills Open. He also won in nearby states, made several proven holes-in-one, and was eventually inducted into the South Dakota Golf Hall of Fame.
Uncle John, or Big John as he was known to his extended family, spent hours throughout the state and adjoining Nebraska and Wyoming hunting deer, pheasant, grouse, turkey and chukkers, for his family's dinner table.
After retirement from the VA, John and Jane spent portions of many years in Arizona and California and enjoyed hours of trailer camping at Deerfield Lake. Johnny was a South Dakotan through-and-through, enjoying its hunting, fishing and golfing and couldn't imagine living any place else.
He was a master at frying up steak or venison, made a mean spaghetti sauce and Tom-and-Jerry mix, always loved a card game won or a story told, didn't hesitate to share his views, and never encountered a dog or small child that didn't love him.
He was the perfect combination of German accuracy and Norwegian fastidiousness. His laugh filled the room, had a great head of hair, and a grin as big as the great outdoors. He truly will be sorely missed, especially by those who loved him so.
John was fortunate in his lifetime to enjoy and master his three passions - golf, hunting and fishing – and share them with the love of life, Jane.
John is survived by his wife Jane of Hot Springs, his son Jock (Sandy) of Seattle and Hot Springs) and granddaughter Stacia (Seattle), nieces and nephews Bill (Susie) Fleming of Rapid City, Pete (Cindy) Fleming of Hermosa, Jayne (Grant) Linck of Riverton, Wyo., Jim Andre of Aspen, Colo., John Andre of California, Jeff (Janelle) Andre of Cody, Wyo., and JoAnn (Lars) Flannagan of Riverton, a sister-in-law Della Andre of Pierre and nephews Bill, Craig and Richard plus numerous grandnieces and nephews.
John is preceded in death by his brother Claude, sister Marcia, brother-in-law Walter, brother-in-law Carl, sister-in-law Eleanor of Denver and granddaughter Samantha Miller.
The family would like to especially thank the VA Staff and Hospice Representatives for their attentive and empathetic care, as well as the staff at Pine Hills.
Services will be held at a later date. John will be interred at the Black Hills National Cemetery in Sturgis.
Arrangements have been placed in the care of McColley's Chapel of the Hills. Written condolences may be made at www.mccolleyschapels.com.