Gloria Miller, who ran Miller Drug in Bangor for 55 years with her husband Bernard “Billy” Miller, died on Monday at age 84.
The Millers worked side by side for decades as Miller Drug, which was once among more than a dozen family-owned pharmacies in Bangor, stayed in business and grew even as the pharmacy industry consolidated into a handful of national chains.
The pharmacy became a wholly owned subsidiary of what was then Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems in 2014, but the iconic Miller Drug name remained until early last year.
Gloria was born on July 9, 1936, in Springfield, Massachusetts, the daughter of Milton and Fay LaMelle. She met Miller at a drugstore near Fenway Park in Boston in 1954, and they went to a Red Sox game on their first date, according to her obituary, published Tuesday in the Bangor Daily News. Billy said he went into the store for a pack of gum, and came out with a wife, according to a BDN story from when the couple retired in 2012.
When the couple met, Gloria, a recent graduate of Classical High School in Springfield, was a student at Beth Israel School of Nursing in Boston. Billy Miller was in Boston to attend pharmacy school.
They married in 1956, and in 1957 moved to Bangor, where Billy Miller joined the family business, originally called Miller Cut Rate. Working with Gloria, he opened a new pharmacy counter that same year at the store his parents, Abe and Frieda, had run as a variety store and soda fountain for nearly 20 years.
In 2010, the Millers sold 50 percent of their drug store to Affiliated Healthcare Systems, the for-profit arm of what was then Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems. In 2014, it became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Brewer-based hospital network, and in January 2019, Miller Drug was rebranded as Northern Light Pharmacy as part of the hospital system’s rebranding to Northern Light Health.
The Millers celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary in August 2020.
“I think the word that best describes Gloria and Billy is family,” said Matt Marston, associate vice president of Northern Light Pharmacy, who said the Millers continued to work with pharmacy staff as recently as last year. “The way they work with employees and local health care providers and with the community — everyone is part of the Miller family. We have many people on our staff that feel this loss as if they lost a member of their own family.”
Gloria Miller was a longtime congregant of Beth Israel Synagogue in Bangor, and was active in many community groups and causes, including the Salvation Army, Camp Capella, the American Red Cross, Hadassah and the Junior League. She was a diehard Red Sox fan, a talented baker, knitter and needlepointer, according to her obituary.
In addition to her husband, Gloria Miller is survived by four children, 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.