Cheney Free Press -

By Luella Dow

Aviation, bees and beer: Millers are living the high life

Of Cabbages and Kings


Jack and Ellen Miller take a minute out of their busy schedule to pause for a picture.

Jack and Ellen Miller, whose home is like a park in a rural part of the Cheney area, are noted by their neighbors as very busy people. The day I became acquainted with them I heartily agreed.

The Millers settled here when Jack, an air traffic controller, was assigned to Spokane. Ellen was working at Southwest Oregon Community College as a librarian, her lifelong interest. The Millers, who grew up in a rural area, looked for a country place to call home. Jack settled into his job and Ellen found her niche at Eastern Washington University’s library.

“Ellen was the first girl I ever took out,” Jack Miller said. “We met in grade school, went to the Junior Prom.Being together seemed just right.” And now, many years later, the Millers tamed their new home, making trails, adding horses, cattle, a llama, and a garden and chicken house. Beehives appeared.

The Millers tackled the hard work of thinning trees with an eye toward the safety of their home should a fire come near. Their son, Patrick, developed a small waterfall over rocks. It is the perfect place to sit in the shade and listen to the water flow peacefully toward a pond.

The Millers are enthusiastic travelers. One day they landed in Ecuador. Before them were several zip lines to choose from. The zip lines were high. ”You couldn’t see the ground. You were above the treetops, into the clouds,” they said.

Their goal was to visit the Galapagos Islands where they encountered many unique animals. “These animals are not afraid of people. In fact they ignore you, moving around you as they go about their own business.There are no predators,“the Millers said. By the way, when the Millers got home from this adventure they set up their own zip line, but not as high as those in Ecuador.

Jack Miller has designed a new kind of honeybee hive. It is more secure than the original kind and works well. They belong to the West Plains Bee Keepers Association. Jack is past president of the organization and last year Ellen was vice president of the group. They give their honey away to friends.

Three years ago Jack Miller was director of information systems at Whitworth University. He retired and Ellen, who had worked hard as regional manager of the Spokane County Library District, and managed construction of libraries in the district, retired the same day.

You might expect the Millers to own an airplane and you would be right. “We take it out when the weather is fine. It is a Cessna Skylark 175,”Ellen Miller said. One day they were traveling home with their son, Patrick. They flew over the Cascades. “Our engine blew up. We had lots of altitude. I called for Contact Spokane approach,”Jack Miller said.

He maneuvered the plane in circles. The propeller kept right on going around and around. They landed at Davenport, “A perfect landing,” someone said. And so quiet, no engine noise, obviously. An inspection showed the engine still attached by only two bolts.

Jack Miller makes several kinds of beer. He is growing a new hop plant in his garden. The Millers buy wheat and grind it, bake bread and share it with others.

They both scuba dive and Ellen Miller shows her artistic ability in the beautiful quilts she makes. One winter when the snow was deep, Jack Miller kept the driveways of six neighbors plowed so they could get out.

In case you’re wondering, the Millers are busy! This friendly couple has three friendly dogs and a couple of friendly cats. Apparently friendliness is contagious in their household. Our best to you all.

Luella Dow is a Cheney-area author. She can be reached at


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