Iva Nell (“Nellie”) Miller passed away at home on June 15, 2019. She was born on May 2, 1915 and was blessed with remarkable vitality throughout her 104 years. Even when her physical health declined in recent months, her spiritual faith, mental strength and boundless humor never wavered.
Nellie was the middle child of seven raised on a small ranch in rural West Texas. She recounted stories of a loving, rambunctious, industrious family where money was scarce but wit and wisdom were never in short supply. There was plenty of hard work to do in those years, but Nellie’s cherished role was caring for her Mother during times of illness. She considered her Mother her first and greatest teacher and would often share life lessons she had learned from her. Nellie recalled a fondness for bad weather days when the family would be all together in their small house.
Years later, as a young woman, Nellie moved with her family to Horatio, Arkansas where she met Dillard Miller who had moved there from Texarkana, Texas to work as a bookkeeper for a lumber company. After a courtship of just a few weeks, they embarked upon a marriage that spanned 62 years. Nellie was a loving and caring wife and a doting and fun-loving mother and grandmother. She could somehow manage to teach school and also make dresses for her daughter, build a treehouse for her son, prepare family meals and teach Sunday School.
Shortly after their marriage, Dillard entered the Baptist ministry and served churches in Arkansas for over 60 years. His longest pastorate was at First Baptist Church Mena, Arkansas where he served for 29 years. Nellie often recalled an awareness she had as a child that Jesus had come into her heart, but becoming Baptist was not part of her upbringing. After two years of prayer and consideration, and seeing her husband’s firm commitment to ministry, she joined the Baptist church and grew strong in her Christian faith.
Throughout her adult life Nellie enjoyed teaching Sunday School and she was still doing so on a weekly basis at age 102. In her later years she wanted to assure the ladies in her class that advancing in age did not diminish their importance to God and others. She deeply loved her class and always hoped to return to them.
Also, in those early years of marriage Nellie entered the teaching profession. She taught English, speech and drama at the junior high and high school levels for most of her teaching career. Nellie always had a special connection with students who were having struggles academically or personally. She was never intimidated by their issues or doubtful of their potential. Many of her students would recall that, although small in stature, her trademark high heels and outgoing personality made her a towering presence. At age 104 Nellie would still take the opportunity to instruct on proper grammar when needed.
Nellie’s lifelong hobby of sewing began at age 10 when a relative discarded some torn fabric. She could sketch a design and make it from scratch and continued sewing until well past 100 years of age. She was always interested in clothing style and design and described her hobby as “high fashion.”
Throughout her life Nellie was physically active. She jogged in a 5K run at age 93 and especially enjoyed participating with friends in an aerobics class. She loved the companionship of this wonderful group and also confessed to relishing the “competition” of working out with others. She often referred to her 80’s, 90’s and 100’s as the “best of the rest.”
Nellie never ceased to be joyful, humorous, resourceful and loving. Most who knew her could easily recall an anecdote, a clever comeback and a meaningful encounter. Her ready smile never faded – and the joy she shared will brighten even the difficult days ahead.
Nellie always said that while God was giving her energy she must not to cease to use it. When told that she might not have many more days in this life she said she would “live and love” the ones she had. In so doing, she never stopped teaching, encouraging, uplifting and loving.
Nellie was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Dillard S. Miller; by her parents, Sarah Emmaline and Archibald Quentin Hector, and by all her siblings: Eavvy Sharrock, Exer Masters, Audie Masters, Buddy Hector, Doc Hector and Hubert Hector.
She is survived by her children, Karr La Dickens (and Dean) of Garland, TX and Rod Miller of McKinney, TX; and by her grandchildren Douglas Dickens (and Lauren) of San Jose, CA, Whitney Dickens McMahan (and Joseph) of Chicago, IL, and Courtney Dickens Rogers (and Phil) of London, UK. She was also blessed with three great-grandchildren, Elias Dickens, Sula Dickens and Caitlin McMahan.
I have become absolutely convinced that neither death nor life, neither messenger of Heaven nor monarch of earth, neither what happens today nor what may happen tomorrow, neither a power from on high nor a power from below, nor anything else in God’s whole world has any power to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 8:38
6-27-19 9:35 a.m. KAWX.ORG