CANANDAIGUA – John Millard Harmon, Jr., age 97, passed away peacefully, on July 5, 2023, at Light Hill (comfort care home) in Canandaigua.
Millard was predeceased by his beloved wife, Ruth (Aaness) Harmon in 1994; sister, Mary Horstick; brother, Thomas Harmon; granddaughter, Victoria Louise Phillips. He is survived by six children, John (Carol) Dietrichs, Roger Harmon, Mary (Will) Howe, Ann (Chuck) Phillips, Kirk (Chris) Harmon, and Janet (Frederick) Burgwardt; 13 grandchildren, Rebecca, John Isaac (Teja), Charles, Sarah Ruth, Michael, Beth (Owen), Luke (Kari), Sarah Alice, Paul, Frederick (Cece), Beatrice, Olivia, and Robin; nine great-grandchildren, Veera, Abby, Silas, Evie, Hayden, Cooper, Judah, Julia, and Aino. Millard was born in Evansville, IN to Dr. John Millard Harmon, Sr. and Esther (Kettelkamp) Harmon. His widowed father later married Hazel Sweet and the family relocated to Auburndale, MA.
Millard graduated from high school in Newton, MA. At age 17, he volunteered with the U.S. Army Air Corps, First Fighter Command Aircraft Warning Service. His senior year of high school, he received an early diploma on April 1 to join the World War II effort. Millard enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was honorably discharged in 1945 and returned to the Boston area. Millard earned his private pilot’s license and became an instrument rated pilot. He attended Boston University, and earned his BS, MEd, and EdD. Millard attended a summer session at the University of Oslo. His Doctoral Field Study took place in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Millard taught in the Newton public school district at Pierce Elementary School and Weeks Junior High School. He also taught at the Stuttgart American School with the Dependent School Detachment, U.S. Army Europe. Millard was married to Marilyn Altrock from 1947-1950, and they were blessed with a son, John Millard Harmon III. Millard married Ruth Aaness in 1952, whom he described as “The love of my life”. One of Millard’s greatest accomplishments was when the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce named him one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of America in 1956. Millard and Ruth chaperoned the American Delegation to the London International Youth Science Fortnight, under the patronage of His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, both in 1961 and 1962.
The delegation was received at the White House before departure. The family moved to New York State, where Millard was the Director of Continuing Education at SUNY College at Geneseo. Another move came when Millard was appointed Director of the summer session at SUNY College at Oswego. Millard accepted a job as Director of Manpower Staff Development and Training in the NY State Labor Department and the family moved to Albany.
Millard took early retirement to devote his passion for flying full time. His first plane was N8750M, “50 Mike”, a Beechcraft Musketeer. He upgraded to N7710R, “10 Romeo”, a Beechcraft Bonanza. Millard researched and negotiated the possibility of flying his private plane over the Red Airway One route and landing in Moscow at the Sheremetyevo International Airport. He was granted permission from the Soviet Union, and picked up his Soviet Navigator in Helsinki, a necessity to fly through Soviet airspace. Millard’s Visa did not arrive in time, so he was detained at the Sheremetyevo Airport Hotel for 4 days.
He was interviewed by Joan Lunden on ABC’s Good Morning America after returning to the United States. The WMHT PBS cameraman who took this trip with Millard made the documentary “Friendship Flight: Ten Romeo to Moscow”. Two years later, Millard’s next flight in 10Romeo to Moscow was to fly the Red Airway One route with his Soviet Navigator, and land in Moscow at the Sheremetyevo International Airport. He got the approval of the Soviet Union, received his Visa, picked up his Soviet Navigator, flew Red Airway One, and landed in Moscow at the Sheremetyevo International Airport.
This successful flight was well publicized internationally. Millard opened Soviet skies for western light aircraft and sport pilots. In 1991, Millard stood with 20,000 residents in Freedom Square in front of the Tallinn Parliament building, with Soviet tanks nearby, during the peaceful transition when Estonia declared immediate full independence from the Soviet Union. In 1995, he was the top pilot in flight speed records in all categories world-wide, with 154 speed records. Millard and Ruth cherished family gatherings at their beach house on Block Island.
A memorial service to celebrate his life, will be held Saturday, August 19, at 2pm, at The First United Methodist Church, 100 N. Main St., Canandaigua. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Light Hill, 5160 Parrish St., Ext., Canandaigua, NY 14424, Clark Manor House, Activities Fund, 318 Fort Hill Ave., Canandaigua, NY 14424 or Harbor Church, 21 Water St., New Shoreham, RI 02807. Arrangements are by Johnson-Kennedy Funeral Home, Inc., Canandaigua. Condolences may be offered at www.johnsonkennedy.com.