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Zellamae Miles Biography

Zellamae Miles
October 17, 1926 – January 2, 2018

Zellamae Arnold was born October 17, 1926, the third child of Zella Spalding Arnold and Medford Arnold. She was a great granddaughter of Susanville's founder, Isaac N. Roop, and the granddaughter of Susan Roop Arnold. According to the birth announcement in the Lassen Advocate, "Med is so delighted with his young daughter that he tried to purchase the Court House for a residence." After graduating from Lassen High School in 1944, Zellamae worked as a mill hand for the Fruit Growers Supply Company. In an account she wrote for the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park, she recalled one particular day.  "Everyone suddenly left so we decided to go uptown and see what was going on. The town was overflowing with people, bumper to bumper cars, people crowding the street, yelling. People would hug and kiss you. The whole town was celebrating the end of World War II." Zellamae attended the University of California in Berkeley. On November 2, 1947, in a simple ceremony in the home of family friends, she married Herald Eugene Miles, who was just home from the war. Herald and Zellamae raised their children, Shireen and Chuck, in Susanville, spending many summers with friends and family at Lake Almanor. She was active in her children's schools and in youth groups like Boy Scouts, Campfire Girls and AFS, an international exchange student program. When she started back to work, she worked alongside her husband at Travis-Miles Meats. Later, she was employed by the Bureau of Land Management, and eventually started work in the field of real estate. By the time she retired, she had become one of Susanville's most successful real estate agents. Zellamae was a remarkable community leader in so many ways. Proud of her pioneer roots, she served for nearly 15 years as a volunteer and museum docent for the Lassen County Historical Society. She volunteered each year at the Third Grade History Day and served two terms as Board President. She was a tireless supporter of a number of other community organizations through the years. These included Soroptimist International, the local chapter of P.E.O., the Susanville Symphony and Lassen Land & Trails Trust. In recent years, she served on committees to help preserve library services in Susanville, worked on the campaign to "Keep California California," was an outspoken advocate for the construction of a new community pool, and most recently was instrumental in the formation of Susanville's Indivisible chapter.  She was described by one friend as "wonderfully opinionated, funny as a stitch and so down to earth."  "As mad as she could get with some politician or policy," said another, "her default mode always seemed to be optimistic—she was a lover, not a hater, with a zest for life that one hardly ever sees."  Shortly before she died, she was planning to draft a letter to the editor about the importance of voting. She loved her home town, but she was fearless and always game to travel at the drop of a hat. She absolutely loved meeting new people. Zellamae maintained a social life unmatched by anyone of any age, getting together regularly with her wide group of friends, including her book club, a tea group and her stamping group. One friend wrote that "I will always remember how she was so ready to include everyone into her circle." Another said, "To meet her was to make a new best friend. "She is predeceased by her beloved husband Herald, and survived by her daughter Shireen and her son Chuck, her granddaughters Darcy Gleave, Aubrey Abbott and Charlotte Thori, their spouses, six great grandchildren, many cousins, nieces and nephews, and friends throughout the world.