Wallace Charles Miller, a long-time local business and community leader, passed away peacefully in his Pacific Palisades home on September 30 at the age of 93.
One of eight children, Wally was born on October 8, 1926, in Grafton, North Dakota. He worked hard on the family farm but knew from an early age that farm life was not for him. After serving in the Army fixing optical instruments, Wally came across an ad in a newspaper wrapped around a package sent to the farm. The ad was for a watchmaker’s school in Los Angeles—and it would change the course of his life.
Wally decided to head west to Los Angeles, but he didn’t have to make the long drive alone. His sister Miriam and her friend Bonnie Ebert came along for the ride. Two short years later in 1951, Wally married Bonnie, the love of his life. In 1961 they settled into their sunny yellow corner home to raise three children in their beloved Pacific Palisades.
With an artistic eye and steady hands, Wally studied both watchmaking and gemology. He worked as a fine watchmaker for William Penn before purchasing his first jewelry store in Southgate. In 1959, Wally purchased Denton’s Jewelers in Pacific Palisades and then Denton’s Brentwood in 1963. For generations of local residents, Wally was the trusted face behind their wedding rings, heirloom watches and precious gifts marking a lifetime of special occasions.
Wally never stopped being an active member of the community he loved. A past president of the Pacific Palisades Optimist Club and the Chamber of Commerce, he could often be seen picking up litter in the Palisades or personally seeing to improvements on his commercial property in The Highlands. He was proud of his work on the Village Green and PRIDE—and of marching in the Palisades 4th of July parades for many years as one of the notorious businessmen in briefs.
Wally was an avid reader who particularly enjoyed philosophy and historical biographies. He appreciated beauty in art. He was a curious and open learner, studying everything from Buddhism to new technologies.
Wally regularly played golf and tennis until failing eyesight made it difficult. He and Bonnie traveled extensively for pleasure and to share time with their beloved children and grandchildren. Bonnie was a devout Catholic; she was thrilled when Wally converted and joined her as a member of the Corpus Christi congregation. As Bonnie’s health deteriorated, Wally became an accomplished cook and rarely left his wife’s side.
Wally loved and was loved and cherished by his family and friends. He was patient and considerate. Even a short time before he died, he communicated with clarity and intelligence. He listened deeply and was always willing to consider differing viewpoints.
Even though Wally knew suffering with the losses of his daughter Michele and then his loving wife Bonnie, he also knew how to enjoy life, and when life was difficult, he knew how to persevere. He lived a full and remarkable life, fearlessly and joyfully following one of his own favorite bits of advice, “When you see an open door, go through it!”
Wally was preceded in death by his wife and daughter, Michele, as well as brothers, Stan, Arnie, Bob and Ken. He is survived by his sisters Ruth Shepard, Miriam Newton, Dorothy Olson; daughter Lisa and husband Jason Anderson; son Jeff and wife Colleen Egger; son in law Carl Scheiperpeter; as well as seven grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
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