The Rev. Laurence H. Miller, 82, of Millsboro passed away peacefully at home with his daughter by his side Tuesday, April 16, 2019. He was born Dec. 29, 1936, in Minneapolis, Minn., son of the late Henry and Josephine Miller.
The Rev. Miller, affectionately known as Laurie or recently as Larry, was described by all whom he encountered as a kind, warm, loving, sweet, gentle, funny, caring, intelligent, giving man who found beauty and pleasure in the small things in life.
He was a 1954 graduate of Claymont High School in Claymont, Del., a 1958 graduate of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., and he received his master's in German from Indiana University. He went on to attend Virginia Theological Seminary, from which he was graduated in 1962. The Rev. Miller made his lifelong career as an Episcopal priest, first at St. John the Baptist in Milton, Del., then Church of the Good Shepard in Nashua, N.H., followed by St. David's Episcopal Church in Salem, N.H., where he served the majority of his career, followed by St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Blue Bell, Pa. The last church he served was in his retirement as a part-time minister at St. Mary's in Bridgeville, Del.
On March 7, 1965, Fr. Miller, while vicar of St. John the Baptist, along with six other Episcopal priests from Delaware, answered The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s appeal "calling on religious leaders all over the nation to join us on Tuesday in our peaceful, nonviolent march for freedom." The appeal was made in the wake of the March 7 "Bloody Sunday," when, on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, state troopers attacked with clubs and tear gas those who were peacefully marching to Montgomery in support of racial equality. Nearly 40 Delaware Episcopal priests had volunteered to go, so names were drawn from a hat for six of the seven vacancies, Fr. Miller being one of the six. He and the other priests flew to Selma for this second march on March 9, in which The Rev. King led 2,000 people, including hundreds of clergy members. Faced with a federal restraining order against the march and pressure from President Johnson, The Rev. King led his followers to the Edmund Pettus Bridge and asked them to kneel and pray. After prayer, they rose and redirected the march back to Selma instead of pushing forward to Montgomery. In so doing, they likely avoided more bloodshed, but more significantly, their restraint gained the support of President Johnson, who promised to introduce a voting rights bill to Congress within a few days. On March 17 he did so, and in time it became law.
Fr. Miller volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and the Millsboro Public Library. He enjoyed singing in a barbershop quartet and was active at the Long Neck CHEER Center. In his spare time, Fr. Miller was an avid reader and enjoyed nature, walks, dancing, playing guitar, bird watching, sailing, hiking, and mountain climbing. He was a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, and dear friend and pastor to many. He is deeply missed.
In addition to his parents, The Rev. Miller was preceded in death by his wife, Patricia Ann Walls Miller, in 2014.
He was survived by one son, Mark Miller and his wife Jo-Ann of Menifee, Calif.; one daughter, Julie Ann Wilson and her husband Gary Lee of Rehoboth Beach, Del.; six grandchildren--Chrysta Ann MacBlain and her husband John, Michael Miller and his wife Theresa, Tasha Feilzer and her husband Baron, Brittany Ann Wilson, Brendan Lee Wilson, and Leah Ann Bell and her husband Josh; five great-grandchildren--Gavin and Kylie MacBlain, Penelope Feilzer, and Michael and Madeline Miller; and one sister, Nancy York and her husband Bob of Joppatowne, Md.
Friends could call from 5 to 7 p.m., Thursday, May 2, 2019 at Parsell Funeral Homes & Crematorium, Atkins-Lodge Chapel, 16961 Kings Highway, Lewes, Del. A Memorial Service was held at 11 a.m., Saturday, May 4, 2019 at Long Neck United Methodist Church, 32051 Long Neck Road, Millsboro, Del. Interment was private at Gracelawn Memorial Park, New Castle, Del.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in The Rev. Miller's name to Sussex County Habitat for Humanity, P.O. Box 759, Georgetown, DE 19947; or to Delaware Hospice, 100 Patriots Way, Milford, DE 19963.
Patricia Ann Walls Miller
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