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Mildred Marian Hamel Miller was born on January 23, 1928 in Tulsa, Oklahoma to Maggie Bell Williams Hamel and Tom Swift Hamel. She was the youngest girl of 8 kids – Clarence, Lionel, Otis, Juanita, James, Salatha, and AV. She was well loved and spoiled by her mother. She was raised in the church and baptized in the Historic Vernon A.M.E. Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her love for the word of God started early when she would walk to Sunday School each Sunday morning. She would go on to attend church every Sunday for the remainder of her life for nine whole decades.
A truly devastating moment in her life was the death of her mother when she was 8 years old and she became orphaned. She lived in multiple households with her brother and grandmother until her grandmother passed away. The passing of her mother and difficulty of childhood created the foundation of a woman of strength who would not allow life to keep her from her goals. She graduated High School in Wetumka, Oklahoma at the age of 16 and she attended college at Shorter College - an A.M.E. institution in Little Rock, Arkansas. She obtained an Associate of Arts Degree from Shorter A.M.E. College and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Oklahoma.
Rev. Mildred Miller was a trail blazer. She was the first black women to work at the telephone company in Palo Alto, California. She was unafraid and believed that she could do anything. Rev. Mildred Miller was a little fireball on fire for God. She heard the voice of Lord for the call to ministry. “And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15). Rev. Miller has beautiful feet in the eyes of God. She became a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal church. In 1963, under the late Bishop John D. Bright at the Central Northeast Oklahoma Annual Conference in her home church - Historic Vernon A.M.E. Church; Rev. Miller acquired the distinction of being the first woman to be ordained in the A.M.E. Church west of the Mississippi. On September 8, 1965 she was ordained an itinerant Elder at Metropolitan A.M.E. church in Ardmore, Oklahoma under the late Bishop George Napoleon Collins. Rev. Miller pastored Shaeffer Chapel A.M.E. Church in Wagoner, Oklahoma.
Rev. Miller believed in education. She taught several of her grandchildren to read and love books with countless hours at the library. Rev. Miller served as a certified public-school teacher from 1971 in Oklahoma and subsequently in Texas, teaching grades K-8. She was nominated “Outstanding Woman of the Year” by the Y.W.C.A. in the field of Education in Ardmore, Oklahoma.
She was active in her community where she served on the Board of Advisors to the Board of Education, Ardmore Area Board of Campfire Girls, Board of Directors Y.W.C.A. in Ardmore, Oklahoma and as a chaplain with Church Women United. Rev. Miller served as Conference Secretary in the Central Oklahoma Conference. She was elected First Vice President of the Conference Missionary Society, elected Second Vice President of the Central Conference Missionary Society, and elected the Conference Director of the Y.P.D., Central Oklahoma Conference. She served as District Supervisor in the Muskogee, McAlester and Ardmore Districts.
She was an Interim Pastor at Flipper Chapel A.M.E. Church, Pauls Valley, Oklahoma and Associate Minister at Metropolitan A.M.E. Church in Ardmore, Oklahoma. She served as Conference Chaplain for the Central Oklahoma Conference and Conference Evangelist for the Central Texas Conference.
Rev. Miller spent the last 30+ years serving as Assistant Pastor of New Bethel A.M.E. Church in Austin, Texas with her daughter, Rev. Margaret Sims, Pastor of New Bethel A.M.E. Church. She was the Mother of the Church. Rev. Miller was the adopted grandmother of all the members of the church. She served with zeal and great love for the church. Rev. Miller in all of 30 years never missed a Sunday. It didn’t matter if she had been sick, had surgery, or had pain in her limbs, she came to church. She believed in the community of church and hearing the word of God fresh from the Pastor’s mouth. She led Sunday School every Sunday and set up communion every 1st Sunday. Rev. Miller never met a stranger and was a great encourager to people she met from the grocery story to the bank. She would always invite anyone she met to church and ask “Are you saved? If not, you need to know Jesus and get filled with the Holy Ghost!”. Rev. Miller would stay up all night praying for church members and those who God brought into her life. She held everyone at New Bethel accountable to the word of God and showed us daily what it really meant to be a Christian. In addition to all of that, Rev. Miller, even at the age of 92, knew how to use Facebook. She would reach out to people and leave encouraging words on their social media pages which people greatly appreciated.
Rev. Miller loved her family fiercely. She was married and widowed to presiding elder Rev. J.B Miller of Ardmore, Oklahoma. She is the mother of three beautiful daughters, Margaret, Wanda and LaDawna. She made sure all three of her daughters received a college education and some musical talent. She was proud that all of them are homeowners. She was exceptionally proud of all six of her grandchildren -Tamara, Corey, Natalie, Jonathan, Kendria, and Laila. Her life was filled with joy that she was able to see her two great-grandchildren, A’Leah and Elisa. She would spend hours looking at their pictures and calling her family about how wonderful and smart her entire family is. She was also grateful for her extended family of JB, Jimmy, Joe, Henrietta, and Carol and their families. She is survived by her daughters, grandchildren, great grandchildren, several cousins, nieces and nephews. Rev. Miller, affectionately known as Grandmother to everyone, is the adopted grandmother of many and her loss will be felt by many for many years to come.
Rev. Miller is the example of a life well lived and well loved. Her joy, her vibrancy, her wisdom, her love for family and God will live on in each of us, and every person she touched by her very presence. We thank you Grandmother for the life you lived. We thank you Grandmother because our lives are blessed, and we know God because of you. We thank you Grandmother because without you there would be no us.
"Servant of God well done"
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