Growing up with
dolphins and guitars
Dusty Miller is one of those people whose life story
reads like a book. Born in Daytona Beach, Florida
(the 3rd generation of his family to be native to
the area, and the 9th generation to be native to Florida...),
Dusty grew up on the beach, riding on the back of
sea turtles, playing with dolphins, surfing, and fishing.
His maternal greatgrandfather (William Franklin Miller)
settled in Volusia County on the St. John's River
in the 1880's. His grandparents (C. Roy & Albie
Marie Miller) settled in the Daytona Beach area in
the early part of the 20th century and established
one of the first "motor courts" open to
the general public (Joy's Court located on the river
in what is now Holly Hill, Florida). His grandfather
was a confidante to John D. Rockefeller and helped
to build some of the WPA buildings in the area during
including the famous Clock Tower on the beach and
the Bandshell on the Boardwalk.
On his paternal side, one leg of his family (beginning
with his grandmother Annie Zell Whatley) can be traced
back through nine generations in North Florida, most
notably in the Lafayette and Suwannee County areas
around Live Oak. From there, Dusty and other researchers
have tracked the Whatley family back through the Jamestown
Colony in Virginia and into Great Britain in the 1400's.
Dusty is quite involved in genealogy research and
has an extensive database of information on the names
Miller, Johnson, Whatley, Bergersen, Chauncey, and
on his wife's families including Fitch and Wyrick.
Dusty's information on the Wyrick family is included
in a recently released fourth volume of Fitch family
history by historian John T. Fitch in Cambridge, MA.
He became involved in the music business at an early
age and by the time he was in high school at Seabreeze
Senior High, he was able to play nine different instruments
including alto, bass, and tenor saxophone, clarinet,
drums, guitar, piano & organ, trumpet, and dabbled
with a harpsichord. This musical prowess allowed him
to sit in with some of the club and dance bands in
the area including the Nightcrawlers ("Little
Black Egg") and the Allman Joys which later became
the Allman Brothers Band.
After graduating from high school, he joined the
U.S> Air Force and was stationed in Germany and
in the jungles of Southeast Asia. Dusty moved across
the country working in various radio stations under
various "radio names" and in various formats
after getting out of the U.S. Air Force in 1969. From
Florida, he traveled to Savannah, GA, then to Salt
Lake City, UT, California, Washington State, back
across the United States to New York, then to Maryland,
and back to Savannah.
In 1973, while working with the Savannah Morning
News as a sports writer and editor, he began working
with the former National Wrestling Alliance under
the tutelage of professional wrestler and promoter
Sputnik Monroe. Dusty was not a ring wrestler, but
worked as a photographer and was in training as a
ring announcer, substituting at times for the regular
announcer at smaller shows in southeast Georgia and
eastern South Carolina.
In 1974, Dusty went through the first of three divorces
when his wife took their children Kelly, Bryan, and
Cathy to live in Colorado. It wasn't until a number
of years later that he found out where those children
were, and now has made contact with the two boys.
He has made contact with his daughter via email, but they have not spoken.
His third marriage produced a daughter Cassandra,
who is the mother of his grandchild, Cheyenne. Cassie
was raised by Dusty's 4th wife, Gloria from the time
she was 4 years old. It is Gloria who is "Granma"
to Cheyenne, who is best known as "Sweetpea"
by line dancers around the world.
In 1982, Dusty finally found that "right one"
in Gloria. Chasing after another woman in an oldies
club one night, he was introduced by that woman to
Gloria June Fitch, a secondary school administrator
with the local school system. Six months later they
married in her hometown of Ten Mile, Tennessee in
the first formal wedding the town had ever seen. December
28, 2009 will mark their 27th anniversary.
In September of 1999, Dusty retired from his broadcasting
and nightclub careers, and in December he and Gloria
moved from Daytona Beach to the solitude of a wooded
6 1/2 acres outside of Deltona, Florida about half
way between Daytona Beach and Orlando.
February 22, 2001 was a date which neither Dusty
or his wife will ever forget. On that afternoon, Dusty
suffered an ascending aortic dissection which ruptured
his aorta leading from his heart. This is the same
malady that struck down the actor John Ritter. Airlifted
to Shand's Hospital at the University Of Florida,
he underwent emergency open-heart surgery in the middle
of the night. One of the nation's best thorasic surgeons
(Dr. Tomas Martin, MD) replaced Dusty's aortic heart
valve with a porksine valve, relaced 30 cm. of his
aorta with a man-made material called gel-weave, and
did two by-passes including a fem-to-fem bypass from
one leg to another in order to by-pass two massive
blood clots which had broken away from his aorta.
His chance of surviving the attack and the surgery
were estimated at less than 1%, but survive he did
although he is now considered 100% disabled.
Information on Dusty's military service, broadcasting
and entertainer career, honors bestowed on him, charities
he supports, organizations he is a member of, open-heart-surgery,
and contact information, can all be found by clicking
on the buttons to the left.