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Life Story / Obituary
Reva was a middle child of a large Tennessee family of seven sisters and five brothers. Her father, Goldie, was a farmer and factory worker and her mother, Louella, spent much of her time tending to twelve children and helping with the farms. Such humble beginnings taught Reva simple values, how to stretch money, help others when in need, about family, laughter, friendship, love of animals, and to enjoy country music. These would serve her well throughout her life.
Though she would refer to herself as a “Hoosier Tomboy,” Reva grew to become a beautiful young woman. She married Larry Wagner, and they had a daughter, Lisa. Shortly thereafter Reva developed Hyperthyroidism, a condition that lead to more than 20 eye surgeries in order to save her vision. Thyroid disease allowed her to eat a seemingly endless amount of candy and sweets without ever putting on weight.
At age 43 Reva moved to Ohio. Her first date with Dan Miller was the Troy Strawberry Festival. They soon married and Reva began to acquire many new life skills, capitalizing on her simple county girl personality, developing dozens of friendships in the Tipp City area. It was often said she could light up a room with her smile and brighten anyone’s day just by talking to them. She had no problems with being the center of any group’s attention.
Reva kept her natural good looks well past the age of 60 and, even then, insisted on keeping her shoulder length hair and wearing stylish clothes; she was proud of her leggings and Red Chucks. In 1992 Reva and Dan were celebrating their Wedding Anniversary in Atlantic City while the Miss America Pageant was in progress. Though she was 47 years old, Pageant Officials and Members of the Press mistook her for a Miss America Contestant on three separate occasions during that trip.
Dan had a love for power tools and building things that Reva also acquired. On weekends they could always be found building something together. Reva loved to watch TV shows like Hometime and This Old House. Projects included furniture, privacy fences, dog houses, sheds, flower beds and the like. Some of the projects were very elaborate and friends kiddingly called the two of them “D & R Construction.” In their most famous project, together they were the Builder/General Contractor for a 2000 square foot executive home that they lived in for 10 years.
During her marriage to Dan, Reva had five pets; a homeless cat named Lil Man, and four AKC Yellow Labs: Casey, Ginger, Molly Sue, and Cooper. Reva treated them all like her own children. She washed their faces each day, talked to and exercised them, made sure they had the best food and medical care, obedience training, tons of toys and all the love they could ever want. Of course, other dogs were welcome to visit and play with her own, and strays were safely sheltered until Reva could get them home.
Reva loved the sun, being outside in it and generally sported a dark suntan. She kept a shapely, fit body into her early 50’s, and she liked to go barefoot, always wearing tee shirts she had modified with scissors and shorts in the summer. Reva loved the beach and enjoyed playing par 3 golf. One of her favorite activities was her daily one-mile dog walk.
Though she had to wear strong glasses, Reva loved to read books and work puzzles. Many a wintry or rainy day would find her sitting in her favorite chair in front of the fireplace with a large cup of coffee or green tea close by, and a Danielle Steele or Nora Roberts paperback in her hands. Sometimes the object of her attention was a crossword puzzle and, of course, there would be a dog nearby. She also loved to play cards and board games like Scrabble and Monopoly.
Reva developed a love to travel particularly to the western USA. Though she was originally afraid to fly, she grew to like it and even flew across the country by herself. Reva loved Southern California, Arizona, and Las Vegas. Some of her favorite memories were watching the sunset from the beach at La Jolla, when a sea bird snatched her pizza slice from her plate in Ocean City, going through the many shops on Rodeo Drive, swimming in Lake Havasu, all the Vegas Casinos, and snapping pictures of cactus in the Arizona desert. Other favorite places were Washington DC, the Carolinas, Niagara Falls, and the Black Hills.
In the beginning not many people would give Reva and Dan’s relationship much of a chance to succeed and most would not support it. Several felt compelled to counsel Reva that she was making the mistake of her life. From their wedding day forward Dan and Reva signed each card (Valentine, Birthday, etc.) to each other and went to sleep each night saying/writing the words “for always and forever” to each other. Dan announced Reva’s death by saying she was his lover, eternal best friend, and perfectly wonderful wife, and that she created a home that he would always return to. Their relationship lasted 32 years and only ended when her death did part them.
Reva Miller, age 74, died peacefully on June 25, 2019 at her home in Kalamazoo. Reva was born April 15, 1945 in Robbins, TN the daughter of Goldie and Louella (Parsons) Bell. Early in her life, Reva’s family moved to Central Indiana where she attended Winchester HS. In 1987 she met Dan Miller; they moved to Tipp City, OH and soon married. While living in Ohio she was employed as an office worker by Kirk Brothers Transportation and later at EvenFlo Products; she also attended Edison College. Reva and Dan moved to Bismarck, ND in 2003 and later to Kalamazoo in 2009. Reva was preceded in death by her brothers: Ray and Joe; and sisters: Alice, Dorothy, Helen, Gladys, and Ruby. Surviving are her husband, Dan; Reva’s daughter, Lisa Wagner; canine companion Cooper; brothers: Willard, Bud, and Junior; sister: Mary Duncan; and nieces and nephews too numerous to list. Cremation has taken place. Visit with family and friends from 12-2 PM on Sunday (July 14) at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr., Kalamazoo, (269) 375-2900 where a prayer service will take place at 2 PM. Visit Reva’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign her online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to Leader Dogs for the Blind.