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Juneau-Douglas City Museum


Miller, Norman & Betty (West)

by Betty West Miller
UID=957


Betty West was born at St. Annís Hospital in Juneau, Alaska, in 1936, to LeRoy and Berna West. The second born child of the Wests, she joined her year-old brother LeRoy Jr. at home. Over a year later, a baby sister, Burnetta, joined the two other toddlers at the West home. Norman Miller was born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1936, to George and Elizabeth (David) Miller.

Living in Juneau as a kid in the 30ís and 40ís was wonderful. Small town, safe environment, many family activities, swimming at the Evergreen Bowl (now named Cope Park), retrieving fly balls at the baseball park where the Federal Building now stands, never missing a high school basketball game, playing hide-and-seek on 12th and 11th Streets with all the neighborhood kids, and walking everywhere in town as not many families could afford cars then, Saturday matinees for a dime at the Capital or 20th Century Theaters, sledding down 9th Street which they closed for traffic so we could sled safely, fishing at Harris Harbor off the dock, swimming at Dredge Lake or the Airport pond, and picking berries ďout the road.Ē I regret that my five grand kids will never enjoy Juneau in the way that I did as a kid.

Betty attended the Juneau Public Schools up on Fifth Street and was the last graduating class from Juneau High School in 1955. The following year it combined with Douglas and became the Juneau-Douglas High School and my sister was from that graduating class of 1956.

After graduation, Betty didnít have to go out looking for a job, her commercial class teacher Mrs. Cook found one for her. The day after graduation she began a career working with the U.S. Forest Service. It was during this year that she met Norman K. Miller who was stationed on board the Coast Guard Cutter Storis from 1955-57 in Juneau. They dated and within the year they knew that whenever Norm had to transfer, Betty was going with him. They were married November 2, 1956, in Juneau and in February 1957, Norm was transferred to Texas to finish out his last year in the Coast Guard. Their son was born on their first wedding anniversary in Galveston, Texas, Normís last duty station before being discharged to return to Juneau to live. This was the first time in Bettyís life she had ever lived anywhere else other than Juneau and it was quite traumatic for her. Leaving her job and family and friends and moving to Texas where it was so hot and it never rained, she could hardly wait to come back home.

In 1959, Daryl, a second son, was born to the Millers in Juneau and delivered by Dr. Whitehead at St. Annís Hospital where Betty was born. Norm was working for Alaska Coastal Airlines and Betty was working for the Territory of Alaska and then returned to the Forest Service and later moved on to the Auke Bay Fish Lab to finish out her working career in the secretarial field.

Betty and Norm built a home out on their property at Mile 16 Glacier Highway and this is where they raised the boys. Once the boys grew up and moved out on their own, the house became too big for two so they sold and bought a new mobile home at Switzer Mobile Park and a new 40-foot Bluewater Yacht. They lived on the boat Betty Jean in the summer onths, sailing all over Southeast Alaska fishing and chartering and then moved back into the mobile home for the winter months. Norm retired from Alaska Airlines in 1998, after dedicating 40 of his years to the company. Now the Millers spend winter months in Yuma, Arizona, and the rest of the year in their condo on Douglas Island enjoying their view overlooking the channel.

Norman Jr., went through the school system in Juneau and graduated in 1974. He married Lisa House and they have two children born in Juneau: Jessica (1983) and Kyle (1985). Norman and Lisa divorced. Norman Jr., works for Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game. Daryl graduated from J-D High School in 1976. He worked for Rudy Ripley at Commercial Art for many years before he bought the business when the Ripleyís wanted to retire. Daryl married Marrit McMullen who was from Minnesota and they have three Juneau-born children: Jake (1983), Luke (1988) and Tessa (1992). Marrit works for the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game.


Betty and Norm Miller.