He had a voice like Merle Haggard and a heart of gold. She remembers the day they met. It was in Park Circle. He was wearing his baseball uniform and drinking a Coke. She developed a lingering crush on the Little Leaguer. Five years later, she invited him to her 16th birthday party and to dance.
They shagged perfectly together that first time, says Catherine Jeanette Driggers. They would shag together regularly at Folly Beach, Park Circle and Danny Jones Park for much of the next 40 years, says Driggers, widow of Robert Miller. He was born Dec. 1, 1946, and died Oct. 24.
"On a scale of 1 to 10, he was a 20," Driggers says, rating his dancing. "He had great rhythm. He could do the wind-up, which made his legs look like rubber, because he was double-jointed. Of course, he was sore for three days afterwards. Folly Beach, that was where you went (to shag)," says Driggers. "We even saw Chuck Berry there one night. He spoke to Robbie, and he almost fainted."
Miller's widow and his daughter, Rhonda Taylor, say he was multitalented and used those talents to entertain family and friends. He sang, played music and told great stories to put people at ease.
"He was clever and enjoyed language," Taylor says. "He would twist word inflections and make them mean something that nobody else had thought of. He would crack everybody up."
Miller was prone to telling jokes when people were sad, Taylor says. That's how he defused awkward situations. He laughed long and hard and was never left laughing alone.
While serving in the Air Force in Colorado, he organized a country band in which he played one of his two Fender guitars. He learned to play the instrument by ear and entertained at Veterans of Foreign Wars posts and night clubs across the state.
He loved the early songs that Haggard recorded, those of the '60s, says Taylor. "I think of him when I hear 'Silver Wings.' When he was with the band, that was the warm-up song."
Yet, that was not his major music love, say Driggers and Taylor.
"His real love was soul music, singers like Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, Al Green, Bill Withers, Ray Charles and Clarence Carter," says Driggers. "He was a big fan of everything Motown," says Taylor. " 'Ain't Too Proud to Beg' makes me think of him a lot."
Miller was a man who always wanted to be better at what he did, Taylor says.
"We could have done absolutely nothing and he would have gushed. But he always wanted to be better at what he did, except for shagging. It was perfection, and he would let everybody know it."
Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705 or firstname.lastname@example.org.