Delivering Hope to the Next Generation

I’m late with this post, as I was absorbed last week in the Church of the Brethren National Older Adult Conference where I was a keynote speaker. I invite you to listen to the live streaming of my illustrated presentation that gives the back story of how I became the documenter of the seagoing cowboy history, the legacy of the seagoing cowboys and the Heifer Project, and the importance of continuing to deliver hope to the next generation. The speech, which you can find here: begins at 13 minutes into the session and lasts for 70 minutes. I know — that’s a long speech! But that’s what I was contracted for and that’s what I gave. If you wish to jump to the seagoing cowboy part, you can start at 25:30 minutes (including the reading of my picture book The Seagoing Cowboy) or start at 35 minutes to skip the picture book reading and stop wherever you wish. Enjoy!

Next post will pick up Part II of the pre-WWII seagoing cowboys.


Planning ahead on the Seagoing Cowboy story and looking back on a great year

I’ve completed six months of bi-weekly blog posts now about the Seagoing Cowboy and Heifer Project histories. I’m in the process of planning my calendar of posts for this year; and to that end, I’d be happy to know what questions my readers might have that you would like answered about these two histories. I’d also be happy to know what you have particularly enjoyed and what you would like to see more of. You can share your questions or comments with me either through the reply feature of this blog or by emailing me at

In this, my first post of the year, I invite you to look back with me at some of my personal highlights of 2014:

Jo Israelson and Peggy Reiff Miller at Heifer International, March 2014

Jo Israelson and I. Photo by Alan McNamee


Opening night of Jo Israelson’s exhibit “Heifer Relief: Compass, Ark, Berth” at Heifer International headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas, March 13, 2014, where I was the speaker along with two amazing seagoing cowboys: Merle Crouse and Howard Lord.


Okanogan County, WA, seagoing cowboys

Seated, L to R, Seagoing Cowboys Dave Henneman, Bill Pyper, Jick Fancher, Bill Dugan. Standing, L to R, Jack Lorz, whose brother was a seagoing cowboy; me; Neoma Vandiver who husband was a seagoing cowboy. Photo by Rex Miller


A speaking trip to Tonasket, Washington, the end of August that included interviews with all four seagoing cowboys pictured. I was invited by college classmate and friend Sandra Brightbill, President of the Okanogan County Historical Society, to honor the seagoing cowboys from their county.



Rex and Peggy Reiff Miller

Rex and I at the Ellisforde Church of the Brethren in Tonasket, WA, where I spoke August 24, 2014. Photo by Jerry Brightbill



And what a joy it was to have my husband, Rex Miller, with me on that trip.





Seagoing Cowboys at Beyond Hunger Northern Indiana, Sept. 2014

Heifer International honored the Seagoing Cowboys who came to the Beyond Hunger Northern Indiana event with a “Make a Difference Award.” I’m in the upper left and Heifer’s CEO Pierre Ferrari in the middle of the third row. All the others were cowboys or cowgirls. Photo courtesy of Heifer International

Heifer International’s Beyond Hunger Northern Indiana event at Camp Alexander Mack in Milford, Indiana, September 12-14, 2014, was one of the 70th anniversary celebrations Heifer sponsored across the country last year. I co-chaired the event; the planning took up a large portion of my time during the year, but it was worth every minute of it when the event brought together 25 seagoing and flying cowboys and cowgirls from all over the country to be honored by Heifer.

Seagoing Cowboys of the Rock Springs Victory.

Howard Lord, Richard Hoblin, and Bob Heimberger reunite. They served together on the SS Rock Springs Victory to Ethiopia in 1947. Photo courtesy of Heifer International



What a wondrous reunion it was!





John Baker shares his story

John Baker shares highlights of his trip to Poland on the SS Mexican in December 1945. Photo courtesy of Heifer International



And full of great stories!





Seagoing Cowboys at Beyond Hunger Manheim, Oct. 25, 2014

Seagoing Cowboys honored by Heifer International at their Beyond Hunger Manheim event, October 25, 2014. Photo by Rex Miller

Another glorious cowboy reunion in Pennsylvania. I participated in Heifer’s Beyond Hunger Manheim event, October 25, 2014, that brought together 35 more seagoing cowboys.

Seagoing Cowboy Al Guyer and Peggy Reiff Miller

Seagoing Cowboy Al Guyer and I, October 25, 2014.

A joy for me at this event was being reunited with the first seagoing cowboy I interviewed, in January 2002, Al Guyer. He was on the same SS Mexican trip as John Baker pictured above at the Beyond Hunger Northern Indiana event. Al’s Christmas story appeared in my December 26 post.



Marketing meeting with Brethren Press team

Brethren Press Managing Editor James Deaton describes illustrator Claire Ewart’s image on the screen to Publisher Wendy McFadden and me. Photo by Jeff Lennard, Brethren Press Marketing Director

The final highlight of my year was a marketing meeting in Elgin, Illinois, with Brethren Press staff in November for my upcoming children’s picture book, The Seagoing Cowboy, due out this fall. We had our first glimpse of illustrator Claire Ewart’s sketches for the book. An exciting day!

Watch for more news about the book’s progress as the year goes along.



Next post: How ten Manchester College students ended up on a cattle boat to Europe