Duncan Reid Miller

By From page A4 | August 14, 2014

duncan miller obit

July 21, 1921 – Aug. 11, 2014

Duncan Miller passed away peacefully at the Laurel Creek Care Center, Fairfield, and entered rest with his Lord Jesus Christ in heaven, Aug. 11, 2014. He was 93.

Duncan was born in Omaha, Neb., on July 21, 1921, of parents John and Catherine Miller. He married Dorothy May Nickerson in February 1946 and she passed away Feb. 6, 1983.

Duncan is survived by six children, Dan, Scott, Randy, Jennifer, Becky and Karen; grandchildren, Bonnie, Sarah, Kelly and Katherine; and great-grandchildren, Benjamin Duncan and Jacob Jeffrey.

He grew up and graduated from high school in Omaha. Always an industrious young man, he started work at a very early age, delivering newspapers and doing other part-time jobs, including working at a car dealership. He was always interested in flying and found an opportunity for aviation in the government-sponsored program prior to World War II called CPT (Civil Pilot Training) that led to receiving all pilot ratings, including commercial and flight instructor.

In 1940, he left Omaha to work in an aircraft factory in San Diego, Calif., helping to build the B-24. Early in World War II, he was selected to become a civilian flight instructor to help train the large influx of students needed to crew the many aircraft needed in the war effort. His personality was such that he developed an excellent reputation as a flight instructor, always getting his students through the program and on their way.

In 1944, he was called to active duty, commissioned as an Army Air Forces rated pilot with duties as a ferry pilot, delivering aircraft from the factory to their units in the United States and Alaska. He would have preferred a combat role, but did what the military told him to do. He joked over the years that he had the best job in the world, flying such fighter aircraft as the P-39, 40, 47 and 51 to great spots, finishing the war without firing a shot or getting fired upon. At the very end of the war, he was relieved of his ferry pilot duties and assigned to Fairfield-Suisun Army Air Field as a C-54 pilot, where he flew missions to the Far East. It was here where he was rejoined by fellow pilot from CPT days, Wilber Fitch. He and Wilber remained friends and business partners until Wilber’s death in 2000.

For a time after World War II, Duncan and Wilber instructed pilots in the civilian world who were training under the G.I. Bill of Rights. In 1948 Duncan, Wilber and another long time friend, Mike Hunt, formed a group and started an airline called Air Transport Associates, flying mostly C-46 aircraft within the U.S. and Alaska. This independent airline was so successful it ran afoul of a big major airline and the Civil Aeronautics board revoked their charter.

This led in 1956 to Duncan and Wilber forming a contracting company named U.S. Eagle that performed contractual services for the government throughout the continental United States and Hawaii. They sold the company in 1984 and retired after nearly 30 years of successful operation. U.S.Eagle operates yet today.

Duncan “bloomed” in his retirement years. Along with his church activities, community involvement with helping others and the Nut Tree airport, he was busier than ever. The Nut Tree and his many airplanes, his beloved J-3 Cub, Stearmans, the Tiger, the C-47 and other airplanes, were a labor of love. Duncan assisted innumerable young people in the pursuit of their love of aviation, furnishing not only airplanes for them to fly but fuel money as well. Another notable achievement was over 30 years of involvement with the Solano County Food Bank, picking up and distributing surplus goods to the needy. Equally important to Duncan was Mission Solano and its outreach program.

Duncan was a longtime resident of Gordon Valley and left his mark forever on that community. His dedication to the Gordon Valley Fire Department was evident by personal participation.

A strong attribute of Duncan’s was that he always had good words for all those he knew and was heard to say many times that he never met a person he didn’t like. His favorite saying was “Pals Forever.”

A memorial service will be at 1 p.m.  Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, at the Vacaville Nut Tree Airport, in the former Copart hangar. Reception will follow. Internment at the Sacramento National Cemetery, Dixon, will be at a later date.

Arrangements under the care of Bryan-Braker. You may sign the guest book at www.bryanbraker.com.

Brad Stanhope

Brad Stanhope

Brad Stanhope is a former Daily Republic editor. He began his career at the DR in the last millennium. He spent 24 years as a sports editor, associate editor and news editor before leaving the Daily Republic in 2014. Brad lives in Suisun City with his wife, Mrs. Brad, and two sons. He enjoys cheese.

Discussion | 10 comments

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  • David ElkinsAugust 13, 2014 - 8:21 pm

    Yes, Mr. Miller, Pals Forever.

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  • Mark van GorderAugust 14, 2014 - 11:28 am

    My wife and I were very fortunate to have known Duncan. I will remember him for his soft-spoken way, kind smile, gleam in his eyes, and listening ears. He personified Humility in the greatest form. And that after all he has accomplished for his country, community and family. If there is a list for those who go to heaven, Duncan is surely at the top. Thinking of his family and friends in this time of grief. Mark van Gorder

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  • JohnHomAugust 14, 2014 - 4:04 pm

    Duncan is definitely spreading his wings in heaven right now....Pals Forever. ..

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  • Bob ArmstrongAugust 14, 2014 - 5:59 pm

    I've never met a better Ambassador for Aviation, soft spoken person or perfect Gentleman than Duncan Miller.. He will be greatly missed.

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  • Steve M. Windham, LLM, MBA, EAAugust 14, 2014 - 6:27 pm

    I never really knew Duncan Miller, but I have always heard great things about him. My dad, my kids, and I have always enjoyed looking at his airplanes. Rest in peace.

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  • Rev. Gabriel W. HartCralley aAugust 15, 2014 - 6:05 am

    Duncan Miller was a wonderful person who touched the lives of all he met. My wife and I have only known him about five or six years, since we have been members of Rockville Presbyterian Fellowship but he touched our lives deeply and our prayers are with him and his family.

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  • Cindy DeLaurellAugust 15, 2014 - 7:07 am

    It was truly an honor to call Duncan my friend. I had the pleasure of knowing Duncan for over 20 years. Though I was not able to visit often, when I did, he was always welcoming and we would spend wonderful, quality time visiting. We would talk about history, aviation and life in general. Pals Forever!

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  • Ann MitchellAugust 15, 2014 - 8:36 am

    When I reflect on my acquaintance with Duncan I think of two things in particular. . .the Easter Sunrise Services on the deck of his home overlooking Gordon Valley and Tuesday AM's at the Fairfield Presbyterian Church restocking the food closet. His compassion for helping those in need was high on his list of personal priorities and it reached deep into the community. Pals Forever, Ann Mitchell

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  • Pat FleckAugust 15, 2014 - 9:29 pm

    In Duncan Miller, perhaps more than any other man, was embodied the spirit, love and brotherhood of aviation. Duncan will always be remembered for his many kindnesses and his extraordinary generosity. God’s speed, Duncan. It was a pleasure to have met you. Your enduring legacy will be the many aviators you mentored, inspired, and encouraged to pursue the careers of their dreams. "You'll be bothered from time to time by storms, fog, snow. When you are, think of those who went through it before you, and say to yourself, 'What they could do, I can do.' " — Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Wind, Sand, and Stars, 1939

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  • Bob HoffAugust 19, 2014 - 5:42 am

    Duncan was one those persons you loved to know and be around. He will be missed by many.

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