Samuel Burkhead Miller
September 4, 1925 ~ August 25, 2019
Born in: Johnson City, TN
Resided in: Johnson City, TN
JOHNSON CITY, Tennessee – Samuel Burkhead Miller, 93, devoted husband, father and grandfather, accomplished attorney and dedicated servant to the community he loved so much, died Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019, at Elmcroft of Johnson City.
A lifelong resident of Johnson City, Mr. Miller was born Sept. 4, 1925, to Samuel Ernest Miller and Kate Caldona Pitts Miller. He attended Science Hill High School, where he met and courted the love of his life, Anna Marie Irish (Miller), and after graduation entered the United States Navy, serving as a signalman in the North Atlantic during World War II. He resumed his education upon completing his military service, earning his B.S. degree in business administration from the University of Tennessee in 1949 and his L.L.B. degree from the University of Tennessee Law School in 1951. He and Anna Marie were married on August 11, 1948, and loved and supported each other for nearly 64 years until her death in 2012.
Mr. Miller practiced law in Johnson City for more than 55 years, beginning with the law firm of Cox, Epps, Taylor, Miller and Weller, and its successor firms ending with Weller Miller Carrier and Hickie. He continued providing legal services to select clients as a sole practitioner in retirement. He was a member of the American Bar Association, the Tennessee Bar Association and the Washington County Bar Association, and also served as a member of the Judicial Conference of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
He was a member of First United Methodist Church, and at one time served on its board and also as chairman of the building committee for the construction of the church’s educational annex. He was a member and past president of the Johnson City Lions Club, a member and past president of the Johnson City Country Club, and a member and past president of the Hurstleigh Club.
In his commitment to serving the community, Mr. Miller carried on the legacy of a family whose history is interwoven in the fabric of Johnson City’s civic and public life. His father served as mayor of Johnson City, and his brother, William Ernest Miller, served as state chancellor of the First Chancery Division comprising Carter, Johnson, Unicoi and Washington counties and later rose to federal judicial posts as chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee and then as judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Among his many contributions, Mr. Miller served on the Tri-City Airport Commission for more than two decades, playing a critical part in the planning and construction of a new terminal building that greatly expanded the airport’s role in serving the region’s transportation needs and enhancing its economic development potential. Mr. Miller’s signature public service contribution came from his faithful dedication to the development of Johnson City as a regional medical hub. He was a member and chairman of the board of the Johnson City Medical Center Hospital during the construction of the present-day medical center on North State of Franklin Road and subsequently served on the board of Blue Ridge Medical Management Corporation. As a member of the city’s Health & Education Facilities Board for many years, Mr. Miller provided his legal acumen to structure bond issues that were critical in the creation and ongoing financing of Mountain States Health Alliance.
No professional or civic accomplishment was as important to Mr. Miller as his familial roles of husband to Anna Marie, father to six children and grandfather to 11 and great-grandfather to 4. For 55 years beginning in 1963, the former residence of U.S. Congressman Carroll Reece at 1315 South Roan Street was the Miller family home, a welcoming place for friends and family and the setting for many happy homecomings and magical holiday celebrations. Mr. Miller will be remembered for his strongly held convictions, boundless curiosity and enthusiasm for holding forth on the topic of the day, as well as the love, kindness and generosity he showered upon his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Even in his final months, despite his declining health, he was eager to dispense well-considered career advice to an adoring granddaughter. Although he and Anna Marie devoted their lives to family, they also enjoyed golf trips with their close circle of friends and were longtime UT football season ticket holders, attending Vols home games rain or shine into their early eighties.
In addition to his wife and parents, Mr. Miller was preceded in death by his siblings, Grace Edith Miller Brading, Frances Adelaide Miller, Ada Cornelia Miller, and William Ernest Miller; a daughter, Elizabeth Ann, and a grandson, Matthew Nicholas Miller, both of Johnson City. He is survived by two sons, Samuel B. Miller II and daughter-in-law Susan Coburn Miller, and William A. Miller, all of Johnson City; three daughters, Kathryn Wilder of Johnson City; Janet Miller Haas and son-in-law Mike Haas of Columbia, S.C.; and Carol Lee Miller and son-in-law David H. Coburn of Charlotte, N.C.; eleven grandchildren, Shawn Youngman and husband Scott Youngman; S. Neil Miller, Leia Miller Novak and husband James Novak, Anna C. Miller and wife Brittani Sanders Miller, and Samuel B. Miller III and wife Kathleen Hulsey Miller; Hunter Bradford Baker and husband Tyler Baker, Fletcher Bradford, Kaitlyn Haas Garrison and husband Patrick Garrison, Eve Haas, Madison Coburn and Taylor Coburn; four great-grandchildren, Ella, Madelyn and Sophia Youngman and Hattie Marie Baker, and several nieces and nephews.
The family thanks the staff of Elmcroft of Johnson City and the hospice staff from Medisys Health Network of Elizabethton for their professional and compassionate care during Mr. Miller’s final months.
Arrangements are in the care of Morris-Baker Funeral Home. A private graveside service for family will be held in Johnson City with Pastor Jodie Ihfe of First United Methodist Church officiating and a Naval Honor Guard providing military honors. A Celebration of Life will take place on September 21 at First United Methodist Church from 3-5 p.m. in the Parlor.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be offered to First United Methodist Church Youth Ministry, First United Methodist Church, 900 Spring St., Johnson City, TN 37601.
The family greatly appreciates donations made to these charities in Samuel Burkhead Miller's name.