Frank Vernon Miles
Hanover, N.H. — Frank Vernon Miles, 90, died on Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013, at Kendal at Hanover.
Frank was born in Salem, Ore. on Sept. 16, 1923, the middle son of Ross and Laura Miles. He spent most of his early years in Hazel Green, a small rural community outside of Salem, then entered the Engineering School at Oregon State University. When the U.S. entered WW II Frank sought an opportunity to be of service in a way that was more aligned with his faith than the military and enrolled in a program at Guilford College, NC to train young men to work in international relief and reconstruction. Within months this training was discontinued as congressional legislation canceled the right of conscientious objectors to go overseas. Frank was then drafted as a conscientious objector into the Civilian Public Service (CPS) and, for three years, cut trails in the Smoky Mountains National Park, served as a medical “guinea pig” for jaundice experiments at the University of Pennsylvania, and worked as an attendant in both the State Mental Hospital in Trenton, N.J. and in the psychiatric clinic of the Duke University Medical School.
Within three weeks of being released from CPS at the age of 22, Frank was on his way to China to begin an assignment with the Friends Ambulance/Friends Service Unit, which ultimately lasted four years (‘46-‘50). In 1946, he assisted in rebuilding Zhengzhou, Weiwei, and Anyang Hospitals, which had been badly damaged during the Sino-Japanese War. Then in 1947, as medical mechanic, he joined Medical Team 19 (MT-19) at the International Peace Hospital in Yenan, during a truce established in the civil war between the Chinese Nationalists and Communists. Shortly after MT-19’s arrival, hostilities resumed and Yenan was attacked by the Nationalists. Along with the entire hospital the team evacuated on foot, often under the cover of night to avoid air attacks, for the next fourteen months moving from village to village to reestablish mobile hospitals to treat both civilian and military casualties (15 main moves, with stays in 44 villages). In 1948, along with a Government Guide, Frank walked across North China to the port city of Tianjin so that a teammate could return to the United States. Next he looked after a machine shop, garage, and a small fleet of trucks in Chung Mou – a period during which the village changed hands between Nationalists and Communists several times. In October 1948, Frank was named Chairperson for all Friends Service Unit groups working in China. Following his term it took him eight months to secure the requisite permission to leave China because of the U.S. Navy blockade of the port of Shanghai.
Frank entered Haverford College in the fall of 1950 and earned a B.A. in Economics and Sociology (1952) and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Villanova University (1962). He and Patricia Beatty were married in 1951. After the devastating loss of their firstborn, Douglas, to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), Frank and Pat welcomed four healthy children into their lives.
Pursuing employment that would support the family and allow continued exploration of other parts of the world, Frank worked as Chief Engineer at Lee Tire and Rubber in Conshohocken, Pa. (’51-’62) in anticipation of their opening a plant in the Philippines. When the company was acquired and liquidated, he joined the International division of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, serving as Chief Engineer for plants in Valencia, Venezuela (’62-‘64) and Bethune, France (’64-’69), and then as Plant Manager in Menzel Bourguiba, Tunisia (’69-’74), Joliette, Quebec (’74-’76), and Hamilton, Ontario (’76-’78). In 1978, Frank became Manufacturing Manager for Firestone Canada (’78-’82).
After retiring from Firestone at the age of 60, Frank served as General Secretary/Treasurer for Canadian Yearly Meeting, the national body of Canadian Friends (Quakers) in Toronto, Ontario (’83-’89). A second retirement took Frank and Pat to the small village of Kaslo, British Columbia where they relished a decade of living next door to son Dan and his family, contributing to several community service groups, hiking up to old mines in the mountains and swimming in the cold waters of Kootenay Lake.
In 2000, after 38 years of living outside the United States, Frank and Pat relocated to New Hampshire so as to be closer to medical support in working with Pat’s advancing Alzheimer’s. They lived for 2 ½ years with daughter Cathy and her family in Piermont, N.H. There, in addition to engaging fully with family life and projects, Frank volunteered at the Piermont Library, came to know intimately the early spring ephemeral wildflowers, and explored the surrounding hills by bicycle and on foot. Later, from a new home base at Kendal in Hanover (’03-’13), Frank sang with the Bach Study Group and the Kendal Chorale. Throughout his time at Kendal he gave generously of himself in supporting those whom advancing years had robbed of independence – and grew with grace into his own time of increased dependence on the help of others.
Frank’s roots and contributions to the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) ran deep. During his childhood his family participated in the Pacific Coast Association of Friends, a group of meetings that was re-establishing worship on the basis of silence. Witness to the peaceful resolution of conflict was an essential part of their life. Frank’s father had been a conscientious objector in WWI, working with the American Friends Service Committee to build orphanages for children who had lost their parents in the war. Frank’s brother Ward also served as conscientious objector during WWII. Frank and Pat were active in Radnor Monthly Meeting (Pa.), Hamilton Monthly Meeting (Ont.), Argenta Friends Meeting (B.C.), and Hanover Friends Meeting (N.H.). More recently, Frank was a regular presence with the Kendal Worship Group.
Frank carried himself in a beautifully unassuming way that didn’t broadcast his lifetime of rich experience in Quakerism, and his international work and service. Nevertheless he was known by many as a source of light and wisdom with a ready ear for listening, a sense of perspective, and a warm smile and chuckle.
Frank Miles is predeceased by his wife, Patricia Beatty Miles. He is survived by his brothers, Ward Miles of Lacey, Wash. and Rodney Miles of Portland, Ore. Frank is lovingly remembered by his children and their families: Stephen and Ingrid Miles of Ipswich, Mass. and their sons, Garth Landers and Stephen Miles, Jr.; Rebecca Miles and Ward Broderson of Tallahassee, Fla. and her children, Jessamyn Doan and Daniel Doan; Dan Miles and Shelley Stickel Miles of Kaslo, B.C. and their daughters, Sarah and Hélène Miles; and Catherine Miles Grant and Charles Grant of Saint Johnsbury, Vt. and their sons, Brendan and Julian Grant.
A Memorial Service in the manner of Friends (Quakers) will be held on Saturday, April 19 at 2 p.m. at Kendal at Hanover, N.H., under the care of the Hanover Friends Meeting. Later in the summer, Frank’s ashes will be buried next to Patricia’s in a memorial garden near Argenta Friends Meeting, in the Purcell Mountains of British Columbia.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a contribution in Frank’s memory to a charity of your choice.