Leroy "Pop" Miller
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As the turmoil of desegregation rocked Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in 1973, district leaders wanted a principal who could oversee the change at all-white East Mecklenburg High.

They turned to Leroy "Pop" Miller, who had earned a reputation for tough love and high standards, first at the all-black West Charlotte High, then as he helped desegregate Carmel Junior High.

Miller died Friday at 94, having spent the past decade living with family in Kansas City, Mo. On Sunday, generations of black and white Charlotteans shaped by his 37 years in education will remember him in services at Greenville Memorial AME Zion Church.

"A stern but very fair principal – that was his reputation," says former school board member Sarah Stevenson.

"He was an educator's educator," recalls former board Chair Arthur Griffin, who said Miller knew his students so well that he could catch Griffin, a student at rival Second Ward High, sneaking onto the West Charlotte campus to see friends.

"He really knew how to get the most out of people and to make people proud of being Eagles," says Jennifer Roberts, former chair of the Mecklenburg County commissioners and an East Meck student under Miller.

Miller became an industrial arts teacher at West Charlotte in 1945, after serving in World War II. His son, William "Skip" Miller, says he earned his nickname when he caught a student throwing wood chips into a power saw. Miller threatened to whip him, and the student pleaded with "Poppa Miller" to spare him, Skip Miller says.

He became assistant principal in 1963, and was named principal of the newly integrated Carmel Junior High in 1971. He took over East Meck in 1973, leading that school until his retirement nine years later.

Skip Miller, who was in junior high when his father took over East Meck, says CMS administrators knew Pop Miller had not only the academic skills but the leadership presence – he stood 6 feet 4, with an athletic build – to control the fights and riots that characterized integration at many schools. "Certainly it was a trying time," Skip Miller recalls.

Roberts recalls how Miller emphasized the value of academic accomplishment, making sure straight A students and National Merit scholars got the same steak dinners that star athletes got.

According to Observer archives, when Miller retired in 1982, students formed the word "Pop" on the football field and got a helicopter to fly Miller and his wife Sadie to see it from the air. Even after his retirement, he was repeatedly honored by a close-knit alumni community.

As a retiree, Miller made sure the community continued to support youth and schools, says the Rev. Sheldon Shipman, senior pastor at Greenville Memorial AME Zion. "He could just pull together a group of leaders and folks would basically say, 'Yes, sir!' and go do it," Shipman said.

In 2004, Miller moved to Kansas City to be closer to his son and to enjoy being a grandfather. He had been in failing health in recent months, including circulation problems resulting from frostbite to his feet in WWII, Skip Miller said.

A wealth of Charlotte history went with Pop Miller. Historian Pamela Grundy captured some of his memories in a 1998 interview on file with the UNC Southern Oral History Collection. In it, Miller voiced frustration with being remembered as a black principal, rather than just a successful one.

"I've always wanted to be a good person," Miller said. "When I go out and cut my grass, I want my yard to look better than any yard in this neighborhood. ... I'd say to the kids I wanted them to be the best in the state of North Carolina, and I wanted to be the best principal in the state."
Published in Charlotte Observer on Mar. 3, 2014.
Memories & Condolences
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185 entries
February 25, 2021
Remembering 'Pop' on his birthday, February 25. He was such a great principal to work with 9 years at East Meck! I still miss the Christmas cards he used to send me. I hope his family is being blessed.
Jacqueline Foman Gunter
Jacqueline Gunter
September 21, 2020
In loving memory of a wonderful person. We will love you and miss you always.
Teresa Woodle
September 21, 2020
Pop Miller was the best principal a school could have! He was stern but could be comical! He knew how to relate to his students and everyone highly respected him! He was a principal that was unique, I feel blessed to have him for a principal and friend! Pop you were the best!
Teresa Woodle
October 21, 2016
Such great memories of a great man!!!! You will be remembered and loved always!
Trip Birmingham
April 18, 2016
Thanks Pop! God bless you for your works at East Meck High...sweet, sweet memories....
Sandra Beckham-Selassie
February 8, 2016
I will never forget pop Miller he was a great role model for West Charlotte students and our parents
Deloris Massey-Miller
August 3, 2015
Pop insisted that he come to our home to present my sister with her diploma . That really meant a lot to her and my family. RIP May we all meet again some day.
Joanne Katz Brown
May 2, 2015
I am so sorry. Pop was one incredible person. I had the good fortune to teach for him right after I graduated from college at Carmel Junior High. Soon I became a high school principal and we were always in constant contact. He and my father were the most influential role models in my educational career. I learned so much from him and tried to be a high school principal like Mr. Miller.
Mal Brown
March 12, 2014
What a fitting tribute to a fine man. A class act who impacted so many others on such a positive way. Skip, Mel and all of the family, you have much to be proud of.

Bob & Donna Fischgrund
March 11, 2014
Pop was a great educator as well as one of the finest man I ever knew he cared about everyone regardless of race, creed or color. He will be sadly missed
Chip Hood
March 10, 2014
Pop Miller was an amazing man and everything a principal should be. My time at East Meck made a lasting impression on me because of how he treated everyone. He had high expectations and always found a positive way to make his point. To be around Pop Miller was to know you were in the presence of someone who truly cared about those around him. We will miss you Pop.
Hal Groce
March 10, 2014
It says so much about "Pop" as I read through all of these touching messages from his former students. I too, went to East Meck and was in the class of 1978. You will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with the family during this time.
March 10, 2014
RIP Pop...You were a great leader!! You were an even better human being!
Jerry Shaver
March 10, 2014
I'm sure you have messages from thousands of people as POP touched soooo many of us. I was one of many at East in the late 70s. He was always such a warm positive strong guiding light of a human. Even the pictures shown emit that warmth and human beauty right off the page. Thank you for sharing him with soooo many of us. Hopefully you can wrap yourselves in the eternal beauty that he was and will forever be..... He will always be with you and us all through the memories of that love and guiding example. Hugs to you all. ??
Randi Simon
March 10, 2014
To a man who truly made a difference.......thank you for sharing your gifts with all of us! To his family, may God give you HIS peace and strength during this difficult time. From a former 9th grade student at Carmel Jr. High.
Marianne Reuss Prophet
March 10, 2014
My prayer for "Pop Miller's" family is that you take comfort from the Lord, as he is the only one who can provide you with the comfort you need during this time of loss.
I was a student at East Mecklenburg, graduated June 1978, I have so many fond memories of this great man! I loved the way he would greet you as you walked in the school, he remembered your name etc. One of my favorite memories was that he always "knew" what was going on, he would come on the PA system in the middle of classes and say "I know who did it, and I will give you a chance to come see me, but if you don't I will find you", and he always did!! Pop always had the best interest of ALL students there at East Meck close to his heart! A great man that will be sorely missed!
Marianne Wiggins
March 10, 2014
POP MILLER,Will never be forgotten. A GREAT PERSON,You Will be missed POP MILLER!!!!!! CLASS OF '64 WEST
Doris Bowe
March 10, 2014
Skip - My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this time. Your former neighbor.
Deidre Collins Rogers
March 10, 2014
Thoughts and prayers to the Miller Family. Mr. Miller was truly a pioneer in helping shape the culture of African-American students during the 1970's. Great and honorable man!
Ronald Connelin
March 10, 2014
When I first came to Charlotte, 35 years ago you gave me some advise which molded my future and i took it ... out were so wise then .. rest in peace you have your wings
Wanda Fay Haskins
March 10, 2014
We will miss you Pop Miller! RIP
Nancy M.
March 9, 2014
I lost my earlier message " Pop" just like you told Chip you wanted to learn iPhone music ? I haven't learned my iPad your CARMEL COUGAR STUDENT . I was only " I " think today standing at service ! Carmel Cougar ! The service today was so wonderful . So glad to see other " Cougars" sign " in " thanks John Powell.

Today was such a WONDERFUL service for POP . I most enjoyed his BABY SISTER , " Marie" EVERYONE WHOM SPOKE it was so nice . MY HEART FOR THE MILLER FAMILY , I FEEL YOUR LOSS. I know Jordan was so alone not being able to be here today , but Pop so proud of him as well. POP DID FULFILL A FILLED LIFE and his other children , he never saw black or white , just love for CHILDREN and what he did . As REV . DR . SHELDON SHIPMAN spelled out meaning of POP's name today he lived the words of his name . BLESSED TO HAVE KNOWN HIM AND BE APART OF MY LIFE . Bill Gamble
March 9, 2014
Pop, Thank you for being a Great role model and a Father to soooo many.. Your warm smiles and huge hugs for each student was greeted daily.. Rest in Peace and you will truly be missed!! "Class of 1982"
Ella Hoyle
March 9, 2014
Pop was a great person! He was funny, but did not let student get away with horsing
around. Joyce Cannon Class of 1984
Joyce Cannon
March 9, 2014
God Bless "Pop" Miller
To "Pop's" immediate family ...

I just returned to Charlotte tonight after being out of town for a few days when I saw this sad announcement on http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/03/09/4754146/hundreds-gather-to-remember-east.html#.Ux0TRWeYbIU.

Principal Miller helped me become who I am, teaching me how to respect all people. He helped me adjust socially when I was a student at Carmel Jr. High School. Today, I am a 54 year old man who says "God bless you Pop, and thank you for being a great man".
John Powell
March 9, 2014
U will b missed!!!
Angela Mcham
March 9, 2014
One who really cared
Billy Cureton
March 9, 2014
We are very sorry for your lost. Pop had an integral effect on the lives of many young people. He certainly impacted my life in a positive way. My you find comfort from the God of comfort for your loss. Former student class of 71.
March 8, 2014
It took a very special person to navigate our Char-Meck schools during the early 70's. Pop made it look easy. He mad every student feel really good to be at East Meck.He was a most caring and fair individual. His warmth was so apparent and yet he was firm with the students who strayed off course. With Pop at the helm, we always felt like we were all going to be OK. We need more Pop Millers not just in our schools but everywhere.
-Carl Rosen '77
Carl Rosen
March 8, 2014
As an office assistant my junior year, it was an honor to sit at your feet as you shared your life's experiences. Over the years I have reflected on those lessons. You were the best principal and one of the greatest educators I knew. You are flying high like an eagle and you were the wind beneath our wind! RIP POP Miller. Cille Bridges class of 1975!
March 8, 2014
A Man of Honor
Carlton Frazier
March 8, 2014
POP..you played a major role in my life.For that i thank you.Rest in Peace
Class of 80
Carlton Frazier
March 8, 2014
Pop served the West Charlotte High School and community very well. It was a pleasure to have been a student at WCSH and seen him walk between his IA classroom to the Adm building insisting that we conduct ourselves in a decent and sophisticated manner. RIP, Pop, and my deepest sympathies to the family
Donna Epps Ramsey
March 8, 2014
HELENA Barber Cathcart
March 7, 2014
anita arriola
March 7, 2014
Vanessa Ray
March 7, 2014
In loving memory of a wonderful person. We will love you and miss you always.
class of 63
March 7, 2014
Pop always made every one of us feel like we were "his" kids. He knew everyone by name, and expected the best out of all of us. He made being an East Eagle great. My sincere condolences to his family. Although he has left us, his memory will live on. Fly high, Pop!
Kristin Kitterman Batsel
March 7, 2014
Gregg Renfrow
March 7, 2014
Pop Miller will be deeply missed. Thank you Pop for playing such an important part in my life, instilling values, integrity and self worth. Rest in peace. Susan Gertzman
March 7, 2014
Outstanding man! He will truly be missed!
John Townsend
March 7, 2014
As one of Pops' knuckleheads and frequent recipient of the "pinch" as well as the "thumb" at Carmel JH, I always knew that Pop was all about his kids. He never gave up on anybody and for that I'm grateful. I hope to one day hear your whistle as you stroll the halls of heaven. I'm truly blessed to have known you. Rest in peace, "Jody"
Joe Helms
March 7, 2014
RIP Pop. We all need a Pop Miller in our lives.
Richard Queen
March 7, 2014
Mitchell Oestriech--Atlanta Ga
March 7, 2014
I remember a kind soul who had a smile as big as the sun. He greeted us each day with that smile. So proud to say that I was an East Meck Eagle under Pop Miller, class of 81
Trish Sacco
March 7, 2014
"Pop" I love you, you have always been a mentor in my life, and I will never forget you. its funny I read all these entries and I remember you telling me I was a princess, but most of all I remember you telling me to stay away from trouble. Well, Pop, I did and have three kids that I wish would have had the opportunity to meet you. Rest In Peace, you will be missed, Lisa Graham Rowan
March 6, 2014
Pop Miller was such a stirring role model. I can remember moments where he was (justifiably) angry with us and moments when he was so happy and celebratory. His challenge to be "Golden Eagles" rather than "Dirty Birds" still resonates with me. It was an honor to serve as a senior class president and graduate from East Meck under Pop Miller's leadership.
Craig Detweiler
March 6, 2014
Skip, your dad was a gentle giant. His gift from God was to lead, encourage and motivate each and every student that was in his care as a teacher and administrator.. We never knew his first name, he was Pop Miller to all of us. Thank you for sharing him.
Mary Howey Brinson
March 6, 2014
Pop Miller was always a fair and decent man. He treated everyone as equals. When I skipped school to go and eat lunch with friends, my punishment was to wear a dress for two weeks. Those were two long weeks. Pop will always be remembered as an honorable man. He will be missed... Class of '81
Erica Warshawsky-Katz
March 6, 2014
Pop was an example for all young men and a great teacher. A man of much wisdom.
Charlie and Frankie Byrd
March 6, 2014
Pop your soul and your message will live forever. Thank you for giving us your commitment and "trying" to keep us focused on our journey-Sheila Mirchandani Class of 1981
March 6, 2014
What a wonderful man - I will always be a "princess" because that's what he called me.
Betsy Smith
March 6, 2014
Deborah Howey echols
March 6, 2014
I always remember Pop throwing vocabulary words out as you walked by..."Vivacious" comes to mind..he'd say you look vivacious today... "look it up if you don't know what it means"....He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary,and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. THEY WILL SOAR ON WINGS LIKE EAGLES;they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. ISAIAH 40:29-31. God Bless. EMHS class of 1981
Diane Moore Pernell
March 6, 2014
Fly higher than the eagles, Pop! You will always be in our hearts.
Donna Gentile Cole
March 6, 2014
Rest in peace Pop Miller. It was a blessing to know you. My prayers are with the family for the loss of such a wonderful leader.
Sondra Beaty
March 6, 2014
Thank you Pop Miller for making me wash the windows in the student lounge and telling me that I had a choice. I could go on to college or I could do nothing. Im so thankful and grateful for his advice. RIP. You deserve it.
Carolyn Horsley Ballou
March 6, 2014
"Pop" Miller was my princiel while I was a student at East Mecklenburg, class of 1981. He would roam the hall ways keeping all of us in line. God Bless you Pop Miller.
Mike Vaughan
March 6, 2014
Pop, I'll forever remember you calling out any students caught misbehaving on the hallowed grounds of East Mecklenberg by making a stern announcement over the intercom that such conduct would not be tolerated under your watch. You taught me to respect authority & the value of an education. God Bless !
Pete Weber
March 6, 2014
Our dearest sympathy goes out to all of you. We both were honored to be a part of the Class of 81 under Pop! He was an awesome administrator and an awesome person! He will always be remembered with love. Thank you for sharing him with so many others that became better people because of him!
Gray and Lisa Barbour
March 6, 2014
Rest in peace, Pop Miller. You touched and blessed the lives of so many.
Ashley Currey
March 6, 2014
Treasure this picture!!!
Don Stedem, Class of 81
March 6, 2014
I am so glad this man was a part of my life. Such a mentor and taught me so much about life. Rest in Peace, Pop.
Kay H. Leopard
March 6, 2014
ASTI Luncheon with Pop
"Pop" touched a ton of people, he was a very fair and firm man. The Good Lord only knows how many students he helped!!! What a wonderful legacy he leaves behind something we ALL can be proud of, glad I got to know and learn from him, he lead by example. God's strenght to his family. Fly High Eagle Pop!!!
Don Stedem
March 6, 2014
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.
Billy O. Young Class "64
March 6, 2014
Long before school integration was all the vogue in Charlotte, Pop Miller was a legend among men for all who attend WCHS prior to 1969. By the time the rest of CMS caught up with him, he was past his prime, but he was still able to influence the young and willing. Students from the pre-integration days of WCHS, benefitted of Pop Miller in his prime...
All WCHS Classes - Pre-1969
March 6, 2014
Thanks for being the great educator, mentor, father and all the other hats you wore during your wonderful life. Rest in Peace, "Pop". I will always remember you.
Cheryl Edwards-Williamson
March 6, 2014
I am so remorse & sad to hear the loss of this great man & I extend my condolences to the entire "Miller Family." He was my principle @ West Charlotte High (1964-66)I still remember when he use to walk those hallways, just his presence would want you to be on your best behavior. He was a great leader & educator. Whenever I watch the movie "Lean on Me" it(movie) reminds me so much of my dear old principle "Pop Miller." He had that certain father figure about himself, making you feel safe, secure & loved. Being the best you can be was his #1 desire for all of us. He didn't tolerate a bunch a mess in his school, not on his watch. "Pop Miller" although we all will miss you greatly, take your rest, your life has truly being a blessing to so many, especially me.
Loretta Frazier-Harris
March 6, 2014
What an honor to have been an Eagle when he was principal. I will always remember his compassion and strength. A truly remarkable man. My father was also a teacher during this time and thought highly of him as well
Prayers and wonderful memories for his family and friends tonight
Laura Manning
March 5, 2014
I will always remember "Pop" Miller during my days at West Charlotte High school. "Pop", Miller,is a Legacy that will always be remembered. you bring back the Legacy of my Parents, you went to school with, 'The Flanders'. you brought some great days, and memories, to my twin and me. Thanks "Pop"! for your great memories!!!! May your Godly Legacy strengthen your family, friends, students, and all who loved you.

You will always remain in our heart! Thanks for the Great memories!

Gwen & Gold Flanders, (The Twins)
Gwen Orr=Blackmon
March 5, 2014
Remembering (POP) and praying for the Lord to comfort you with His great love and the promise of a joyful reunion
Annette Dunham Gillespie
March 5, 2014
May the eternal promise of Jesus bring you comfort,strength,and peace during this difficult time.
West Charlotte Class of 61
March 5, 2014
A great man with one of the most amazing smile. One of my best educator. Will never forget you.

Class of 1966 (West Charlotte High School)
Shirley Douglas Brown
Shirley Douglas - Brown
March 5, 2014
Pop will be missed greatly!! When I attended East Meck (1982-85) he would stop us girls in the hall if we wore a dress to school and tell us how nice we looked! He liked it when students would dress up to come to school. On the same hand if we did not dress up for school or worse, wore sweat pants, he would voice his chagrin! Needless to say...I never wore sweats!!! I love you Pop Miller!! I will never forget you!! I hated he retired before I graduated!!
Cassandra Cook
March 5, 2014
"Pop" Miller will long be remembered by our family and others for his magnetic personality and his memorable leadership skills. He was truly a thoughtful friend to us. We shall miss him.
Mary T. Harper & daughters (Charlotte, NC)
Mary Harper
March 5, 2014
I loved reading all the memories on this page. It is hard to put everything I feel for him into words. When he was my principal at Carmel Jr high, I was bullied - he would put me on his lap, let me cry and then call the other girl(s) in to confront them. He wouldn't just take my word for it - the other girl(s) had to face him with me there. Then at East Meck, I wasn't so shy and was just one of his "princesses" it was so nice to know that he knew where I'd come from (as a shy bullied girl) but never brought it up - a sly wink would let me know that 'he knew'. God as my witness, there hasn't been a week that has gone by that I haven't thought about him! or the other educator that made a huge difference in my life, and believed in my potential, Dennis Deaton. RIP Pop 'till I see you again, and I will be wearing a dress ??
Terry Cooper-VanHoy
March 5, 2014
I was at East Meck for one year, my senior and being a new student and someone he had not seen before he called me out in the hall between classes and he said welcome to East! Then he told me "you could be two things, an Eagle or a buzzard, now go be a Golden Eagle"! I've passed that bit of advice to my son who I'm sure will pass it someday onto his. "Pop" you are a great man and no doubt enjoying your Golden Wings.
Geoff Elliott
March 5, 2014
What a man...RIP Mr, Miller. You saved our family more than once. Bless your family at this sad time, and we thank God to have known you.
March 5, 2014
He was truly a good and honorable man.
Grace and peace to you in this time of sadness.
With heart felt sympathy
Herbert, Jr. and Jessie Spicer
March 5, 2014
I will always remember "Pop" Miller from my West Charlotte days. My prayers are with the family. RIP "pop", we love you.
Percilla Blakeney
March 5, 2014
As noted Pop has put a positive stamp on many peoples lives living a legacy. My wish that you will be in God's memory John 5:28
March 5, 2014
One of a kind! I am sure he is now teaching the angels a thing or two. Prayers!
March 5, 2014
My memories of high school always include "Pop" Miller. I loved that I was called one of his "princesses". He was the calm in the storm. He was a great man, leader and set high standards for all of us. We were blessed. Praying for the Miller family as another "Eagle takes it's flight...."
Class of 1979
Randi Rhodes Taylor
March 5, 2014
In a time of discord, you brought peace. You were a spark of hope and the paste that connected all peoples together. May you rest in peace. You deserve your rest. Job well done. The people say.. AMEN!
Joyce Gorman
March 5, 2014
I had the privilege to work under Pop during his 9 year tenure at East Meck. leadership and integrity where just two of his many characteristics. Please except my condolences and he will never be forgotten in he hearts of so many.
diane coghill
March 4, 2014
Pop- You saw only the good in us and so wanted us to soar. We'll Pop, rest in peace- we all did in each of our own ways. Thanks for being patient as we all grew up. You truly were a remarkable principle, we just didn't know it then. See you later Pop- Class of 77
Eric Ferguson
March 4, 2014
I have never met a greater man!! Rest in peace, POP!! You will be greatly missed!!!!! ~Andrea Duffy Parrish, '79
Andrea Duffy Parrish
March 4, 2014
Rest in Peace Pop. You were a kind and gentle leader to all your princesses and princes
Julie Civil Dodd
March 4, 2014
"Pop Miller", He would pinch you on the arm or grab you by the ear. He could put a smile on your face at anytinme.
Sam McQuiller
March 4, 2014
Pop Miller, you will truly be missed. You was the greatest principal East Meck ever had! We will miss you! Nancy M. Class of 1982
Nancy M.
March 4, 2014
May your soul rest in peace. Thank you for a strong male presence and the values you instilled in us. Class of 75
Cecelia Wallace-Carson
March 4, 2014
A person that departs from this earth never truly leaves, for they are still alive in our hearts and minds, through us they live on. Thank you "Pop" for all the life lessons that you taught us. To the family thank you for allowing us the opprotunity to see Pop at the alumni game in 2012. Please accept my condolences he will not be forgotten. Class of 1980.
Kim Lee
March 4, 2014
Pop Miller gone but never forgotton. Class "1969 - 1970 West Charlotte.
Earlene Ervin
March 4, 2014
RIP Pop! You were a inspiration and influence over so many. Wish we had more principal's like you these days.

Kimberly Dellinger Roe
East Mecklenburg - Class of 1980
March 4, 2014
He was a great man! He will missed. Love to the family. Cassandra Lee Bridges, Class of 77
March 4, 2014
RIP in Pop. East Meck class of 81.
C G Smith
March 4, 2014
Pop you are a great man and will truly be missed. You touched so many lives. Fly like an eagle...
Laura Thompson
March 4, 2014
Our lives at East Mecklenburg was changed forever after meeting Pop Miller ! One of The Great Ones. He will be missed.
Vickie Johnson- Lewis
March 4, 2014
Pop was an inspiration to everybody that he came in contact with. I remember Pop being both strict and compassionate. The world has lost one great man that not only inspired young minds to reach beyond their potential but always strive to improve their inner strength to become a better individual. I personally thank him for that and wish his family condolences during this time. RIP Leroy "Pop" Miller.
Jeffrey Doran
March 4, 2014
I am honored to be able to call myself one of "Pop's" princesses. He was a great influence to a lot of the youth at East Meck. He will be missed-class of '79.
Wanda Howard
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