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On her 80th, friends make it a 'great day'

March 23, 1997

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer

FAIRPLAY - It was quite a birthday party for Mabel Miller, who turned 80 Saturday.

The location was perfect - the Manor Church of the Brethren, where Miller has worshiped for most of her life. The church is just down the road from the Manor Church Road home she has lived in for 58 years.

Dozens of guests showed up, including her brothers, her children, some of her 12 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren, plus close friends.

Dorothy Petre was there, too. Decades ago, Petre was Miller's teacher at the one-room Center Hill School on the Downsville Pike.

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Petre remembers Miller as "a lovely child. She always helped me check the work of the younger children."

"She was a dear,'' Petre said, "the oldest girl who deserves a lot of credit for helping out her family at home."

Miller was the first of eight children born to Percy and Betty Myers, who owned a farm on the Downsville Pike.

She had to help raise the children when their mother died suddenly, said Milton Myers, 76, one of Miller's younger brothers.

The youngest child, now 66, "was still in a high chair when my mother died," Myers said.

He said he has always been close to Miller. "We used to pull pranks on each other when we were children," he said.

Petre recalled the Center Hill School as one of three one-room schools where she taught in Washington County.

She was graduated from the old Broadway High School and earned her teaching certificate during six weeks of summer school in Towson, Md., she said.

She had to quit teaching after eight years because she got married. "They wouldn't let married women teach in those days," she said.

Petre returned to the classroom as a substitute teacher after her family was grown. She retired in 1962.

Being a housewife and mother was Miller's lifework. She and her husband had been married more than 59 years when Millard Miller died in November of 1995.

The couple had seven children, including a set of twins. Miller worked little outside her home, her brother said.

She was having a great time Saturday. The party was not a surprise. It was more a celebration of her life. She stood in front of the door of the church hall as a reception line of one, greeting each guest as they came in.

"This is just a great day, I just love it," she said.

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