Dr. Cecil Arden Miller
September 19, 1924 - July 26, 2015
Dr. Cecil Arden Miller, known to friends and family as Ard, died peacefully on 7/26/2015 at the Carolina Meadows Health Center. Dr. Miller was born on September 19, 1924 in Shelby, Ohio to Mary Thuma Miller and Harley Hollis Miller. He spent his early years living in Ohio and attended Mansfield High School where he met his future wife, Helen Meihack. Both Helen and Arden finished high school and moved 40 miles down the road to attend Oberlin College. Upon graduating from Oberlin, Arden enrolled at Yale University Medical School and then completed his medical training in pediatrics at the Grace - New Haven Hospital. After graduation from medical school and before starting his residency, Helen and Arden married in their home town of Mansfield, Ohio.
Few people know that the seeds for Arden's career and family life were planted on April 10, 1942. At the age of 17, living alone in a dingy apartment in Mansfield and working at the JC Penney store, he took stock of his life. He made a promise to himself that he would have three things in life: upward mobility from his meager circumstances, a big and happy family, and a career that would do good. He kept that date as his secret anniversary and each year on that day took time for self reflection.
After finishing his residency in 1951 Dr. Miller followed his mentors from Yale to the medical school at the University of Kansas. He began his career there as a physician scientist working in one of seven laboratories in the country working furiously to find an effective vaccine to the polio virus. At the age of 36, nine years after his arrival at the University of Kansas Medical School, he was appointed Dean. In 1964 when the Surgeon General issued a report on the hazards of smoking Dr. Miller made waves by having all cigarette machines removed from the hospital and medical school.
In 1966 Dr. Miller accepted a position as Vice Chancellor of Health Sciences at the University of North Carolina and moved to Chapel Hill. Six years later he relinquished that position so that he could devote all of his energies to his primary passion, the health of women and children. As a professor of Maternal and Child Health in the UNC School of Public Health he would launch a second career, teaching, conducting research and advocating for the health and well being of women and children. Between 1977 and 1987 he chaired the Department of Maternal and Child Health.
During the course of his career Dr. Miller authored hundreds of articles about children's health, consulted nationally and internationally and served in key positions on national boards. In 1974 he was elected President of the American Public Health Association and used that position to advocate for changes in our health care system. He was a national expert in children's health and an articulate spokesperson for state and national policies to promote the welfare of women and children. In his role as an advocate for change he did not avoid controversy, but as an academician he felt compelled to deal with controversial topics in an informed and well documented way.
Dr. Miller balanced his career by spending time with his wife, Helen, and his children and grandchildren. He loved gardening and once lost a wager with Bill Friday over who could raise the largest zinnia. He and his wife collected North Carolina pottery, English water colors, antiques and anything else that caught their fancy. Arden read avidly, enjoying everything from detective stories to British history to modern literature. Throughout his life he never failed to take pleasure in small things, particularly his daily walk on the golf course with his yellow lab, Florie. Seventy three years after making that promise to himself and far removed from that seedy Mansfield apartment Dr. Miller died at the age of 91.
He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Helen; his son Ben Miller and his wife Lori Hess of Tacoma, WA; his daughter Helen Miller of New Haven, CT; his son John Miller; and his son Tom Miller and his wife Jane Hollingsworth of Pittsboro, NC. His grandchildren are William, Jack, Katherine, Luke and Anja.
A memorial service will be arranged for a future date. The family extends its heartfelt gratitude to the staff of the Pines at Carolina Meadows for the wonderful care they provided and kindness they offered to their father during his final years of life.
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Published by The News & Observer from Jul. 29 to Aug. 2, 2015.