Title: From Cows to Space with God as My Copilot
Author: Alfred Miller
Publisher: XlibrisUS ISBN: 9781796048353 Genre: Biography & Autobiography
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Awarded to Books of Excellent Merit
Alfred “Fritz” Miller began composing this memoir when well into his eighties, surveying his long life with humor, intelligence and many surprising moments.
As his title suggests, Miller began life on a farm in a rural area near Wasco, California, where he felt comfortable in the isolation of farm chores and visits out mainly to school and church. Born in 1930, his youth was shadowed by two major wars in close succession. Having to relinquish an early desire to enter the priesthood after it was discovered that he had a weak heart, he began to dream what seemed an impossible dream: to pursue a career that involved airplanes. He completed a degree in Mathematics at UC, Berkeley, his senior year spent in companionship with his new wife Dorothy who soon gave birth to the first of their eight children. Amazingly, he got a job at legendary Edwards Air Force Base immediately upon graduating. As a mathematician, he soon became one of the country’s very early computer programmers. He would stay at Edwards for the rest of his professional life, working his way up to an administrative level, overseeing activities at the Flight Test Range and eventually contributing to the early implementation of the Space Shuttle Program.
Miller’s book shows his mastery in many arenas, not the least of which is in the taking and gathering of the photographs, both work and family based, which enhance his recollections. His parents were immigrants from Switzerland and he gives them credit, along with the Catholic Church in which he was raised, for ensuring that he was a hardworking, moral individual. In college and beyond, he suffered from depression, never taking medication or accessing counseling. He advises others that depression is a disease like any other and can be overcome, but Miller’s ability to do so is yet another evidence of his strong character. His book combines the warmth of home and hearth with highly technical aspects of aeronautics with which he became intimately familiar over the course of a long career followed by many years of consultancy, and work with SHARE, a volunteer group for computer information, the name, he feels, embodying “Jesus’s mission as love of God in action.” Miller also worked during his “retirement” years as a volunteer lay chaplain dedicating his time to prison ministry.
A remarkable story by and about a remarkable man, From Cows to Space will engage a wide audience, from those who, like him, are fascinated with air travel through sky and space, to others who, like him, revere simple and enduring values of religion and family.