Former fire chief lived eventful life

By Don McAlvy: Columnist

Clovis’ fire chief from 1924 to 1941was R.V. Miller. He was born in 1891 in Missouri. His mother died at an early age, and the three children were reared by separate relatives.

“I came to New Mexico in 1908 with a bride and $3,000 in cash, and Uncle Sam gave me a farm near Moriarty,” said Miller. “I was just 17 years old and I thought I was sitting on top of the world. Nobody could tell me anything about farming and I farmed just like we did back in Missouri.

“In three years all but $175 of that $3,000 was gone, so I loaned it to a friend in Albuquerque and told him to pay me back just $5 a month. We made that $5 bill last a whole month, too.

“One evening I was riding my burro home after getting the monthly $5 bill in the mail when I fished in my pocket for some papers and pulled out that $5 bill with them. The wind was blowing a gale, and it whipped that bill right out of my hand.

“I whipped up my burro and chased that flying $5 bill as long as I could see it, but the sand kept coming between me and it and finally I couldn’t see it at all.

“That was a pretty bad moment when the full impact of the loss came home to me. No money for a whole month!”

No mention was made of Miller’s first wife or what happened to her. In 1912 he married Marion Scott and homesteaded near Estancia.

Two years later they moved to Albuquerque and started a dairy. While there, a son Ralph, was born in July 1914.

Miller was a government mule buyer for the Army in 1916, stationed at Columbus, N.M., with John J. Pershing and Cleve Compton.

Shortly after Miller’s wife, Marion, contracted tuberculosis. Dr. Lovelace suggested Miller sell out, buy a covered wagon, and travel slowly across the southwest. By the time they reached Clovis, Marion was too sick to go further. She died in the summer of 1921.

In 1924 Miller married Mae McClurkan in Clovis. The following year their daughter Beth was born. Beth Miller Nelson still lives in Clovis.
R. V. Miller left Clovis in 1941 and went to Gallup where he held the position of fire chief for 20 years until his death in 1962.

Beth tells the story of her father who saw a man in the dark break into the old filling station at the southeast corner of Seventh and Mitchell streets. R. V. Miller put his finger in the back of the burglar and marched him to jail.

Beth said her father was one of the best respected fire chiefs of Clovis, and I wanted to write this for Beth.