MARY EGERTON MILLER (YOUNG)
JULY 31, 1909 – NOVEMBER 24, 2009
Never saying “no” to a worthwhile request – with enthusiasm, creativity, tenacity, bravery, and grace – Mary united men and women behind shared visions and missions. Noteworthy, among her multiple accomplishments, was leading Ohio, while YWCA Special Services Director, to become the 33rd State to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, on February 7, 1974. She also founded the YWCA 3C Hunger Task Force, which addressed administrative concerns for the Franklin County Welfare Department.
Mary immediately had officers in place for an Ohio Coalition for the Implementation for the Equal Rights Amendment. She also chaired Governor John J. Gilligan’s 25 member Ohio Task Force for Implementation of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Mary directed, at the Ohio State University Mershon Center, the Women’s Ohio Volunteer Employment Network (WOVEN); she chaired Ohio’s International Women’s Year Conference, and was a delegate at the 1977 Houston IWY Conference; at the same time, she helped unite the Ohio Commission on the Status of Women and the Ohio Coalition for the Implementation of the ERA, into Ohio Women, Inc., and became the first woman Governing Board Chair for First Community Church. Mary chaired the committee which founded the Metropolitan Women’s Center for Central Ohio Women; she helpedestablish and develop the Center for New Directions, and the Columbus Metropolitan Club; and pioneered comprehensive financial planning for retirement and longtime care. She served on many boards and committees.
Her multiple awards and recognitions included Kappa Alpha Theta’s 1976 Columbus Alumnae Woman of the Year; 1983 Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame; 1988 YWCA Women of Achievement; 1990 Central Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame; LH and 2012 Capital Women of Distinction. Hundreds attended the 1985 Mary Miller Celebration with Governor Richard F. Celeste’s Proclamation, and 17 guest speakers. The slide show proclaimed: “Mary Egerton Miller was the catalyst for making things happen, the leader who led through her appreciation of the uniqueness and value of each individual, as God’s special creation. By always encouraging and pushing others forward to shine and achieve their own goals, she helped all move toward the greater community good for which she was striving. Her success was success for all of us.”
Legend has it that they shot off a cannon in the Lawrence County Court House Square when Mary E. Egerton was born, the daughter of Ironton’s Bank President and City Treasurer Charles Bestor Egerton, and Deputy County Clerk Gertrude Belcher Clary. Mary had an older half-brother – Edgar Clary, and a younger sister – Alice Egerton.
Mary developed early great self-confidence from following and assisting her community involved father. She had read all of Shakespeare by the time she was twelve, and became a grand champion speller as an Ironton High School sophomore. She attended Denison University for two years. Her sorority merged with Kappa Alpha Theta, which she joined at Ohio State University. Majoring in English, Mary became a star debater.
She worked in interior decorating – managing The Chintz Chest for Grace Bird Kelton – with numerous extra activities, including modeling and a busy social life. While working in Lazarus’s Drapery Department, she met her husband, William McCulloch Miller, from the Furniture Department. They were married September 22, 1934, in Mary’s Ironton home.
Bill was the son of Harvey A. Miller, Sports Editor for The Columbus Dispatch, and Helen McCulloch. Bill grew up, with a younger brother, Hugh McCulloch, at 1763 Upper Chelsea Road. Their Gothic styled brick home was built in 1915, one of UA’s first six newly built homes. It was featured on the cover of UA’s June 1918 edition of the Norwester magazine. In July 1918, the magazine wrote a “Who’s Who” on the family, with another picture of their beautiful home. Harvey Miller was a member of UA’s first School Board. Bill played on UA’s first Golden Bear football and basketball teams, and graduated from Ohio Wesleyan, where he played both sports.
During World War II, Mary joined Bill (an Officer with the U.S. Signal Corp) in Ft. Myers, Virginia, and then for two years in Philadelphia, before he was sent overseas. As a civilian, Bill worked for the Ohio Bell Telephone Company. For most of their married life, they lived at 1462 Berkshire Road.
Mary developed deep roots in Upper Arlington’s First Community Church, with Senior Minister Dr. Roy Burkhart (1995 UA Wall of Honor Honoree) becoming her most trusted mentor and friend. He so encouraged and inspired her that, over the years, Mary and her church would vie with one another regarding inspirational community activism and societal innovations.
Pride and joy Laurie Egerton Miller was born in 1950. Laurie married St. Louis Attorney Jeffrey Dorrington Fisher, and they had two children – Christopher Dorrington and Emily Egerton Fisher. Laurie died in 2001, but Mary lived to help granddaughter Emily choose her wedding dress for marrying Mark Nigrelli, on September 26, 2009.
Bill Miller died June 23, 1987. By the fall of 1990, at age 81, Mary was engaged to longtime friend, Howard Lee (“Cy”) Young, formerly from Columbus, living in St. Louis, where Laurie and her family also lived. Mary and Cy were married December 20, 1990, at First Community Church’s Burkhart Chapel, and she inherited his children and his grandchildren, to also love and cherish. She made a difference in Missouri, too, but that is another story – explaining why Young is not on Mary’s bronze plaque, and is in parentheses for this expanded version.
Cy Young died February 9, 1996. Mary lived to be over 100 years, plus almost four months – until November 24, 2009 – Thanksgiving time. We give special thanks that Mary’s bright and shinning spirit will never die.