John Miller (1907-1983)

John H. Miller was born on February 18, 1907 in Neunkirchen, Germany the eldest of three children of Simon and Flora (Kahn) Mueller. His brother Walter (born in 1908) and Greta (Salomon born in 1910) followed. Their parents Simon and Flora ran a men’s clothing store in Düsseldorf. John was educated as far as high school. At the age of 15 he left school to apprentice at a large department store. After his apprenticeship John worked as a salesman in his father’s men’s clothing store. He then managed a branch of the store in Essen.

John and his wife Annaliese were introduced by their parents in 1933 and married six weeks later. They stayed in Dusseldorf until 1936, when John was arrested for “insulting the Fuehrer.” He was imprisoned for six weeks in solitary confinement. When he was released he made immediate plans to leave Germany. It wasn’t until after Kristallnacht in 1938 that he managed to secure a visa and was able to leave Germany. He was joined in Gainesville, Florida by his wife and two children in 1941. He was able to secure the escape of both of his siblings as well. Both went to Buenos Aires and his sister Greta and her husband, Walter Salomon, eventually followed John to Portland. John and Annaliese had two children, Gaby (Barde), born 1936 and Ralph Miller, born 1938.

John and Anna ran a grocery store in Gainesville but the climate was hard on her and they quickly chose to move to Portland, Oregon. John worked a number of odd jobs in Portland before opening his own grocery store, Miller’s Midget Grocery on Hall and Broadway in South Portland. He sold that store in the wake of the 1959 Urban Renewal and opened another grocery on Foster and 92nd on Portland’s east side. He went on to work for the Sheridan Fruit Company, eventually leaving there to became a realtor in 1974.

Miller considered himself to be “conscientious,” rather than “religious” Jew. He belonged to a Conservative synagogue in Germany and belonged to Ahavai Sholom in Portland. He helped found the Portland Friendship Club in 1947 and was president of the club for over 15 years. John died on June 20, 1983.

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