Walla Walla's 'everywhere' duo

There's no rest for Wes and Shirley Miller, and that's how they like it.



Wes and Shirley Miller board their motorcycles for cross-country trips when they're not spending hours upon doing volunteer work with various organizations around the Walla Walla Valley.

Retirement is just another word for nothing left to do.

In that regard, Wes and Shirley Miller will never retire, given their myriad interests and hours upon hours of volunteer work.

"They're everywhere," said Peggy Needham, director of the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program in Walla Walla.

The couple volunteers as much as they can, with their time increasing since Wes Miller retired from the City of Walla Walla Parks and Recreation Department. They now average 35 to 40 hours per month, sometimes more, sometimes less.

"If you want something done, get a person with no time on their hands," Wes said.

The two are flexible and can drop everything to jump in and help when needed. They get a lot done, but they also pace themselves.

"If we don't want to go, we don't have to," he said.

But they more than likely go when and where called.

Their interest in volunteering began with the installation of the aviary at Pioneer Park. Shirley Miller's father worked in the park, so she started volunteering there four hours a day, seven days a week to help care for it.

"There wasn't a lot of money then so we helped take care of the animals and repaired things," she said. "Then it just snowballed from there."

Later on she volunteered at Blue Mountain Humane Society Thrift Store, Odd Fellows and the food banks.

It's a part of who they are and their upbringing, according to Shirley.

"We've always helped people," she said. "We've taken them in when they needed. We're healthy so we count our blessings and we help who ever needs help."

Volunteering has many rewards, she added. It gives them the opportunity to get involved with a variety of people and organizations, and they love to learn new things and have new experiences. They drive the Odd Fellows bus to Wildhorse Resort & Casino, picnics and to the Little Theatre of Walla Walla. And once they went to the Little Theatre, they decided it was so much fun they volunteered there, too.

"We usher, make coffee, put up posters for each new play," Shirley said.

Even their down time is active.

When they need time away from their busy schedules, they take to the road on their motorcycles, usually logging in at least 500 miles a day on trips to Colorado, Wisconsin and elsewhere around the country. They set no schedule and often have no destination in mind; they just explore places that strike their fancy.

The free spirits have no cell phones and no restrictions.

They had motorcycles as a young couple, then switched to horses while they had children at home. After the children left and the horses lived out their natural lives, the Millers backtracked.

"We're back to motorcycles," Shirley said. "You don't have to feed them or shovel after them or have someone come in and take care of them."

And they meet interesting people on their travels.

"When you pull into a rest stop in a car, you probably won't talk with anyone," she said. "But when you pull in with a motorcycle, people always want to talk with you. They're so much friendlier. They look at our age and think, ‘There's two idiots; I've got to go talk with them.'"

Their local volunteer work also puts them in touch with interesting people and "wonderful seniors," according to the Millers.

"It breaks up the day," Shirley said. "Volunteering keeps your mind active. It keeps you on your toes, you learn things from other people. And it's nice to be counted on. I like meeting new people."

"It's a win-win situation," Wes added. "And we're giving back to the community."

Said Shirley: "We do a lot of laughing. We end up with the same groups of people and they are just fun."


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