Neva Lucille Miller, 95, gracefully departed this world on Jan. 18, 2021, at the Grays Harbor Health and Rehabilitation Center in Aberdeen, Washington. She was preceded in death by her five siblings, her husband William W. Miller, DDS of Aberdeen (2013) and her two daughters, Susan L. Miller (1961) and Janet L. Houk (2019). She is survived by her two sons William Mueller of Sedalia, Colorado (Mardi Chase) and Melvin Miller of Aberdeen; her five grandchildren: Ross Houk (Vanessa), Callie Houk, John Miller, Cassidy DeMarco and Joshua Mueller; and her four great-grandchildren: Miller Houk, Vivian Houk, Dillon Houk and Chenoah Daniel.
Neva L. Campbell was born on March 22,1925, to Helena Campbell (Schultz) and Raymond C. Campbell in McCloud, California, near Mount Shasta. She spent her childhood in Petaluma, California, with her sister and four brothers. Neva was always an avid reader. As a child she paid her sister a nickel to keep her silence while she read into the night under the covers with a flashlight. Neva walked across the Golden Gate Bridge on opening day, May 27, 1937, paying 2 cents to cross.
After graduating from Petaluma High School, Neva moved to San Francisco to study nursing. She soon realized this vocation was more her mother’s idea then her own. She gave it her best but left the nursing school and moved into a room at the “Chateau Bleu,” a private home that was converted to coed housing during World War II. She started a new job working for Marian Tibbits, a European dress maker who owned a shop on Maiden Lane in San Francisco. One evening as she descended the grand staircase of the “Chateau Bleu,” she heard someone playing “As Time Goes By” on the piano. That someone was William W. Miller, her future husband.
Bill and Neva were married at St. Vincent Catholic Church in Petaluma, California, on June 24, 1945. Bill was in dental school and Neva was modeling clothing for the clients of Marian Tibbits. Their first child Susan was born in San Francisco in 1946. Unfortunately she was born with cerebral palsy and was severely disabled. A few months after Susan’s birth the couple returned to Bill’s hometown of Aberdeen, Washington, where they found support and care for Susan from her husband’s large family. Neva greatly enjoyed the Miller family but it was hard for her to leave her Campbell family in California. They had three more children, Janet (1947), William (1948), and Melvin (1949), all born in Aberdeen.
For the first 10 years of marriage the family lived in Hoquiam, Washington. Initially Neva was caring for her three younger children and the special needs of Susan while her husband Bill developed his dental practice. However, when Susan was about 4 years old she was moved into St. Joseph Hospital in Aberdeen where the nuns were able to attend to her many physical needs. During this time Neva and a close friend co-founded the first school on Grays Harbor for disabled children.
Encouraged by the family doctor Neva, Bill and the three younger children started spending summers on Flathead Lake in Montana. For almost 20 years from the first week in June until the first week of September the Miller family lived on the lake. Summer days were filled with water skiing, swimming, laughter, sunshine, family and friends. It was an idyllic few months eagerly anticipated by the entire family.
The Millers moved to Aberdeen in the late 1950s. While in Aberdeen, Neva was involved with St. Mary Catholic Church and was director of St. Aureola Guild. As her children graduated from high school she went to work as a dental receptionist in her husband’s dental office. She very much enjoyed her husband’s patients, old and young alike.
In 1968, the Millers moved to Montesano, Washington. Neva became very interested in gardening. You could find her in her yard moving plants, pruning roses or making trips to the nursery with her friend Joyce. She was still out working in her yard in her 90s. She also remained a passionate reader and often visited the Montesano library.
Neva was a vibrant, energetic and determined woman who was nicknamed “speedball” by her husband. In her younger years she loved spending time with her children whether it was riding bikes, rollerskating, playing baseball or just having a good laugh. In recent days when Neva was reflecting on her long life, she said “Oh, we had so much fun.”
The burial and memorial service will be held at the Fern Hill Cemetery when family and friends can safely gather. There will be a notice posted in The Daily World. Donations may be made to the Montesano Library in memory of Neva Miller.