Jo Ann Miller — a longtime Westporter and resident and realtor here — is in Columbus, Ohio this weekend to say goodbye to her godfather, John Glenn. The astronaut/senator/American hero died last week, at 95.
Jo Ann’s late father, Lt. Gen. Thomas Miller, went to flight school with Glenn at the outbreak of World War II. They flew together at Midway, and several years later in the same squadron in Korea (along with baseball great Ted Williams). Glenn and Miller grew as tight as brothers, and built identical houses next to each other in Arlington, Virginia in 1958. Their combined brood of 5 children became great friends.
In 1962, when Glenn made his historic orbits around the eaerth, Jo Ann served coffee and donuts to the press in Arlington.
Despite the scenes in the movie “The Right Stuff,” Vice President Lyndon Johnson never visited the house. Jo Ann’s “Aunt Annie” — Glenn’s wife of 73 years — was not afraid of anyone, Jo Ann says. “Especially LBJ.”
Jo Ann attended the 1980 Democratic Convention, when Glenn gave the keynote address, and in 1984 when he attempted to gain the nomination for President.
She and her father were at Cape Canaveral in 1997, providing commentary for NBC News, when Glenn returned to space at 77 years old.
Jo Ann also watched Glenn give the commencement address at Ohio State University in 2009, where the school of public affairs is named for him. Her “Uncle Johnny” shook hands with over 8,000 graduates — and had his picture taken with every one.
“John Glenn was a great American patriot who served his country for 47 years,” Jo Ann says. “He was a courageous hero who believed in God, family and country.
“But I knew him as a man of kindness, humility and compassion. Those are the traits I will remember him by.”
Glenn will be memorialized at Ohio State today by Vice President Joe Biden, and over 3,000 guests. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery on April 6th — his wedding anniversary.
(Hat tip: Carl Addison Swanson)