My Dear Sweet Mother; Sara Skinner Miller passed peacefully in her sleep on December 19, 2019 after a long and blessed life. A memorial service in celebration of her life will be held on Saturday, January 4, 2020, at South Highland Presbyterian Church, 2035 Highland Avenue, Birmingham, AL 35205. Visitation with the family will begin at 10:00 AM and will be followed by the memorial service at 11:00 AM. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made in memory of Sara Miller to the Auburn University Foundation for the Sara S. and Joseph A. Miller, Jr. Endowed Scholarship in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, with checks mailed to 1320 Shelby Center, Auburn University, AL 36849, Attn: Vicki Hudson. Sara Skinner was born to John Philip and Bertha Reese Skinner at Tennessee Coal and Iron Infirmary (Lloyd Noland Hospital) on Feb 23, 1929. Sara’s father was a mining engineer and she spent much of her childhood growing up amidst the hard scrabble of mining camps during the Great Depression. Sara spent many of her formative years in Morris, Alabama. Sara’s fondest memories of her childhood involve playing with her siblings in Turkey Creek and attending church socials at Glenwood Baptist Church. The biggest influence on Sara’s life during this time was the faith example provided by her maternal Grandmother Reese. Sara learned at an early age from her Grandmother Reese that an enduring faith, a strong work ethic and a sensible thrift would enable her to navigate life’s obstacles. Sara’s children will be forever grateful that Sara strived to instill those core values in her own children. Sara always displayed a tremendous work ethic and was an asset to every organization or business where she devoted her time, talent and treasure. In addition to a strong work ethic, God blessed Sara with a strong mind. She was a gifted student and was named Valedictorian of Mortimer Jordan High School, Class of 1947. Sara matriculated at Jacksonville State Teacher’s College on an academic scholarship. Sara’s classmates once selected her as “Class Favorite” for the school’s yearbook. Sara’s first job after college was at Southern Bell under supervisor Mae B. Jordan, the first female executive at what would later become South Central Bell. Among the hundreds of young women that Mrs. Jordan supervised, Sara’s warm demeanor, bright mind and strong work ethic made a distinct impression on Mrs. Jordan. Mrs. Jordan believed the petite brunette possessed the qualities and character she thought would make an ideal match for her son, Joseph Avery Miller, Jr. Mrs. Jordan thus arranged a blind-date between her young charge and her son Joe, who was then attending Alabama Polytechnic Institute (Auburn University.) Mrs. Jordan’s instincts were correct and both Sara and Joe were smitten with each other. Very few young women have a say in choosing their mother-in-law; it is a very special few who have their mother-in-law choose them. Joe and Sara Miller were married at Southside Baptist Church on March 10, 1951 and celebrated 60 years of marriage together before Joe’s death in 2011. Joe graduated from API on a ROTC scholarship and was deployed to Korea after receiving his Army commission. Sara lived with Mae and Howard Jordan (Joe’s stepfather) while Joe was in Korea. After the war, Joe joined the Alabama Highway Department before eventually opening his own Civil Engineering firm. As Joe begin his professional career in the private sector, Joe and Sara started a family; Sara ultimately bore seven children. Life in the Miller household was an adventurous affair and Sara Miller could be both a stern disciplinarian and doting mother as her children’s behavior warranted. Though raising seven children was a full timeoccupation unto itself, Sara and Joe both believed in service to their community. So in addition to carpooling a station-wagon full of Miller children to multiple music lessons, ball practices and social events around town, Sara still found time to volunteer in various capacities at her neighborhood church and school. Sara was a member of Woodlawn Baptist Church for over 25 years and was a selfless volunteer in many capacities, very often in a leadership role. Sara belonged to the Women’s Missionary Union and tirelessly provided spiritual instruction for countless children in the various religious programs offered at Woodlawn Baptist Church: Children’s Sunday School, Children’s Church Services, Mission Friends, Girls-In-Action, Royal Ambassadors, Bible Training Union, and Vacation Bible School. Sara served as Woodlawn Baptist Church’s Nursery Coordinator for many years. Sara volunteered for the church’s shut-in ministry and also helped coordinate the church bus ministry for underprivileged children. Sara taught English as a second language for Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees; Sara likewise served on a ministry that helped these new immigrant families find housing, employment and negotiate the difficulties of settling in a foreign land. In addition to her innumerable church commitments, Sara also found time to serve as a Cub Scout Den Mother/Girl Scout leader at Comer Elementary School. Sara likewise served at various times as PTA President at both Comer Elementary and Woodlawn High School. Sara also served on a leadership committee at the state level PTA for a year. After her youngest child entered kindergarten, Sara finally pursued her goal of becoming a kindergarten teacher herself, a vocation for which she was perfectly suited. Sara taught the 5K class at Woodlawn Baptist Church’s Early Childhood Education Center for over a decade. Sara believed all children were blessed with God’s spirit regardless of race, class or creed; children in turn were naturally drawn to Sara’s petite stature, kind smile and gentle disposition. A devoted teacher, Sara valued education and understood its transformative effect on a child’s life; Sara stressed the development of a child’s mind through both creative and active play. Sara would often say that she herself learned as much from children as they learned from her; she took tremendous delight in each individual child’s joy of discovery in her classroom. Sara’s innate ability to relate to children reassured many a nervous parent about the educational and spiritual development of their children. Indeed, Sara’s warm smile and encouraging spirit nurtured all whom she encountered, whether child or adult. In 1983, Sara retired from teaching and embarked on a new journey in life. Her new vocation was serving as secretary and office manager for Joe’s civil engineering firm, Miller Triplett & Miller Engineers. Sara was a tireless worker who was loved by her coworkers and clients alike. Joe often remarked that his business thrived as never before after she joined the firm. After 17 years of faithful service to the family business, Sara finally retired in 2000. Yet though retired, Sara continued to share her time, talent and treasure with those in need. Joe and Sara both were volunteer drivers for Meals on Wheels. Sara also served as a volunteer teacher at the Exceptional Foundation for several years. In addition to having a household full of kids, Joe and Sara always enjoyed having a household full of pets. Though she described him as an “absolute scoundrel,” Alexander the Bassett Hound was a particular favorite of Sara. Sara also loved her cats. She was an advocate of the Humane Society’s Trap, Spay and Neuter program and took it upon herself to feed and care for the neighborhood’s stray cats. Sara also enjoyed walking Joe Miller’s bull mastiffs even though they often outweighed her. In her free time, Sara enjoyed long vigorous walks and did so long before it became an exercise fad. Sara loved the outdoors and was an avid birdwatcher: she taught her children at a young age to experience nature every day for quiet contemplation and as a means toinvigorate the soul. Sara was the embodiment of a healthful life and believed that proper diet and exercise were the key to maintaining a healthy equilibrium between body and mind. Sara and Joe also enjoyed traveling together and spent summers visiting their children and grandchildren in other cities and taking scenic tours of different parts of the country. Sara also shared Joe’s love of Auburn football. Joe was an Auburn season ticket holder and they enjoyed traveling to almost every Auburn game for over 20 years. Joe and Sara loved hosting family vacations around Auburn bowl games in the years Auburn was fortunate enough to be selected for a New Year’s Day Bowl. Sara was a passionate and voracious reader. She lovingly shared her joy of reading with her children and grandchildren by reading to them when they were young. Sara especially enjoyed nineteenth century English novelists such as Jane Austin, the Brontë sisters, Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope and George Eliot. Sara also loved British murder mysteries and Agatha Christie was another favorite author. Sara similarly enjoyed viewing Masterpiece Theater and British period melodramas such as Upstairs, Downstairs. Sara likewise had a passion for classic films and relished watching film marathons of her favorite stars and directors on Turner Classic Movies. Sara also enjoyed the religious programming offered on EWTN. The family firm had done some engineering consulting and design work for EWTN’s Irondale campus and Sara and Joe had come to know Mother Angelica in that capacity. Sara soon become a loyal fan of Mother Angelica’s live broadcast; Sara enjoyed Mother Angelica’s biblical insight but also delighted in her barbed wit. Sara often listened to sacred music in her spare time and Handel’s “Messiah” was her favorite oratorio. After Joe’s death, Sara joined South Highland Presbyterian Church and especially enjoyed the fellowship and Bible study of the Builder’s Class Sunday School. Reading scripture was a lifelong habit with Sara. Sara’s dogeared and self-annotated Bible could always be found on her bedside table as she would study her Bible daily. Sara would begin each day with meditation and end her day in prayer. In her final years, Sara’s stoic resolve continued to give her progeny lessons on how to embrace life and be thankful even when faced with the inevitable difficulties brought on by declining health. Most importantly, Sara taught her children and grandchildren through example of how to delight in every precious moment of time that could be spent with family. Sara’s family was comforted to learn that Sara had a long phone conversation with her twin sister Martha earlier on the day of her passing. In Genesis, the Old Testament matriarch Sarah demonstrates that the personal faith of a mother can have a miraculous and lasting influence on the faith of future generations. Sara Miller’s life story serves as a witness to that biblical testimony. Sara Miller likewise embodied the core message of the Gospel: she was kindness to a fault, she loved everyone, she welcomed everyone and she opened her heart to service as outlined by the Apostle Paul’s Epistle to the Romans: “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them: if prophecy, prophesy in faith; if ministry, in ministering; if a teacher, in teaching; if one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others, with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit and serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction and persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the holy ones and exercise hospitality.” Sara was predeceased by her husband Joe Miller, mother Bertha Skinner, father Philip Skinner, mother-in-law Mae Jordan, father-in-law Howard Jordan and brother John Forrest Skinner. Sara is survived by her seven children: Joey (Lisa) Miller, Cathy (Skip) Benton, Howie (Kathy) Miller, Tom (Leigh) Miller, James Miller, Dolly Jane (Jeff) Stokes, Mac (Karen) Miller; ten grandchildren: Sarah Beth (Tom) Wagner, Katherine (Scott) Eckhart, Josh (Mary Katherine) Benton, Avery Miller, Tommy Miller, Bob Banks, Jack Miller, Grace Miller, Anna Leigh Miller, Timothy Miller; five great grandchildren: Millie Eckhart, Ellis Anne Benton, Iris Eckhart, Elizabeth Wagner, Will Benton; sisters: Martha (Carl)Thomas, Elizabeth Arnold and Caroline (Bob) Holland; and a host of nieces, nephews and friends. Mrs. Miller was accepted into the UAB School of Medicine Anatomical Donor Program which is a gift shared by both the students who are privileged to study the body and by the patients who will benefit from their knowledge.