Hairdresser Monica Miller, center, owns 865 West in Bloomfield Hills. She purchased the salon in November.

Hairdresser Monica Miller, center, owns 865 West in Bloomfield Hills. She purchased the salon in November.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

These women mean business

By: Maria Allard | Metro | Published February 23, 2022


METRO DETROIT — Two local women whose lives were forever changed after the deaths of their loved ones persevered to become successful business owners.

Darralyn Bowers has been in real estate for more than 50 years. As the owner of Bowers Realty & Investments Inc. in Southfield, she continued on even after her two grown sons died.

Monica Miller faced the hardship of losing her mom when she was eight months pregnant with her first child. One year later, her fiancé and the father of her 1-year-old son, Jax, died from a heart attack.

Although broken-hearted, both Bowers and Miller picked themselves up to move forward. Here are their stories.


‘It’s a tremendous loss’
Bowers’ oldest son, France Kevan Bowers, was born in 1966. Three years later, in 1969, she gave birth to her second son, Terance Bowers.

“They were the best kids,” Bowers said. “I sure enjoyed every moment I had with them. I loved them. I embraced every moment. We did a lot all the time.”

France Kevan began working in real estate while he was attending law school. Because he was doing very well in real estate, he stayed with the profession rather than pursuing law.

After a 16-month battle with leukemia, Terance Bowers died from the disease in 2006 at age 37. After Terance died, Bowers said, France Kevan “kind of went through a big adjustment. He set up a photography business doing magazine displays … and then he just left us.”

In 2015, Bowers’ heart broke again when France Kevan and a friend were killed in a motorcycle crash on Interstate 94 in Allen Park. He was 49 years old.

“He was going down I-94, a lady was high on drugs, I guess, he didn’t see her. She killed both of them by the big (Uniroyal) Tire,” Bowers said. She tries to avoid that stretch of the highway whenever possible. “I don’t even like to go that way.”

Bowers holds her sons close to her heart.

“Frankly, I consider them to have been a gift from God. They were not promised to me forever,” Bowers said. “It was a tremendous loss. I think they had something else to do.”

Terance Bowers left behind four sons. France Kevan had one daughter.

“She is now in high school,” Bowers said. “She is an honor student.”

Terance Bowers’ son Terance Bowers Jr. works with Bowers at her office.

“He is the vice president here,” the proud grandmother said.

Bowers constantly feels the presence of her sons gone too soon. She stays busy each day at Bowers Realty & Investments Inc., located at 17277 W. 10 Mile Road in Southfield.

“I threw myself into my work,” Bowers said.

The business owner not only cares for clients looking for homes, but trains agents to follow in her footsteps.

“I’m a schoolteacher by trade,” she said. “I enjoy teaching people about real estate, understanding money and wealth, and creating equity. Real estate is one of the best investments. You can buy for X amount of dollars, see what the economy is doing, and it will double or triple your money.”

Bowers keeps in close touch with all of her grandchildren.

“I see them all the time,” she said. “For Christmas, we went to the Japanese steakhouse and then to see ‘Spider-Man.’ That’s the kind of stuff they take Grandma to.”


‘He knows his dad is in heaven.’
Monica Miller, 41, lost her mom to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, in June 2015 at age 55. She died one month before Miller’s son, Jax, was born in July.

Miller remembers the moment she learned her mother was terminal. She went to visit her mom, Nancy Hermes, just after her baby shower. Medical personnel told her, “You need to say good-bye to your mom. She only has a couple days to live.”

“I have three younger siblings. She hung on until my sister’s graduation from high school,” said Miller, who was with her mother daily at the end of her life. “I mourned her the whole time she was in hospice.”

One month later, on July 17, Jax was born. Just before his first birthday, the family, including Jax’s father, Dickow Dehko, 41, were at home. Dehko complained of not feeling well and planned to make a doctor’s appointment. Instead, Miller drove him to the hospital, with Jax in the backseat with his dad.

“He grabbed his chest and his hand was numb,” Miller said of her fiancé. “He walked into the hospital by himself. He said, ‘I think I’m having a heart attack.’ He collapsed. He passed away almost immediately.”

Miller, a hairdresser, had stopped working when Jax, now 6, was born. But after the death of Dehko, Miller knew she had to get back to work at her job at Tarro Salon in Bloomfield Hills.

“I’ve been here 17 years,” Miller said. “Our clients are good, loyal clients.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the salon was going to close, and that meant the staff members would have to find work at other salons. Thinking it over and knowing she had to provide for her son, Miller purchased the salon.

Although denied a loan, Miller bought the salon in November 2021 with her personal life savings. After undergoing renovations, the salon was renamed 865 West, which is located at 865 W. Long Lake Road in Bloomfield Hills. She took the helm and made sure all of the hairdressers, stylists, receptionists and assistants stayed together.

“I needed a future for my son,” Miller said.

And while owning a business comes with certain stressors, Miller has plenty of support from staff and patrons at 865 West.

“Everyone has been great,” the business owner said. “We’re like a family here. This is like a second home to me. We all wanted to stick together. We have a really good thing here.”

She loves being a hairdresser to her clientele.

“I have constant satisfaction because they leave happy,” she said. “We make people feel good every day.”

Receptionist Sarah Jankowski has known Miller for about six years.

“She works so hard. She took on the role and responsibility to keep us all together or the salon would have closed,” Jankowski said. “I don’t know many people who would have done that.”

Dehko’s memory lives on. Miller said that every time Jax sees a white butterfly, he says, “‘That’s my dad.’ He knows his dad is in heaven.”