A Personal History of RHV
On June17, 2006, I was announcing for the Fathers Day Fly-In at Columbia Califorina. Saturday evening after the proceedings I learned that earlier that day Vern Miller had died in a crash along with his wife and two others in his Cessna 180 in Oregon at Paradise Lodge, located along the Rougue river in Oregon. Vern had been flying up there for a number of years for rest and relaxation. He was one of the hardest working people I've ever known. He was considered an expert on the Cessna 180, and had customers from adjacent states fly here to have him maintain their 180's and 185's.
The week after this accident was one of the most emotionally difficult times of my life. It seems that once the word got
around that Vern and I were long-time friends, everyone wanted to ask me about the accident. I knew everyone that asked had no idea of what I was going through, but it was really hard to keep telling the story over and over. One of Vern's customers that had retired and moved clear across the country called and also wanted to know the details.
I was asked to MC the memorial to be held in Amelia's hangar. While I was honored to do this, difficult as it was, there turned out to be a downside. I had certain details to take care of in order to get a handle on what was to take place. As I moved through the crowd, I kept bumping into people that I hadn't seen in years. It was not easy to excuse myself in order to prepare for the ceremony.
It was especially difficult to talk with Vern’s parents, whom I hadn’t seen in many years. They had retired and moved to Arizona years ago, and rather than just enjoying visiting with them after all this time, there we were at their sons memorial in Amelia Reid’s hangar.
On the Monday or Tuesday after the crash a TV film crew showed up at Reid Hillview and wanted to interview me. During the conversation they discovered I had a number of pictures of Vern at my home. I was able to break away from work for a time to retrieve these for the film crew that followed me home. One set of photos was in an album from my first wedding in 1976. Vern had been my best man at that wedding, and a few years later I was the best man at his second marriage. One of the pictures in the album was of myself, Vern, my bride, and the bridesmaid. As I looked at the picture and discussed it with the film crew, I was struck with the thought that I was the only person still alive in that photo. All the other had passed. I had to walk away and take a few moments to regain my composure after that realization hit home.