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Madeline E. Miller, teacher, pioneering business owner, librarian and feminist, dies at 77

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Madeline E. Miller, 77, of Philadelphia, an inspirational teacher, pioneering business executive, librarian, mentor and lifelong feminist, died Thursday, September 1, of encephalitis at a Pennsylvania hospital. .

Throughout her life, Ms. Miller was motivated by a precise moral compass and an energetic disposition, using education, hard work and compassion to meet her challenges. She has worked as a kindergarten teacher in Philadelphia, as an administrator in Boston and New York, and as a librarian at Harvard University.

Everywhere she defended human rights and personal dignity. “She had a fundamental belief in doing the right thing,” her family said in an online tribute.

“She approached everything like a new adventure. She was always chasing her star.”

Madeline Elliott Miller spoke out about her late mother

She holds master’s degrees in library science, business administration, and early childhood education and has worked as a kindergarten teacher at Harrity Elementary School and St. Peter’s School in Philadelphia for 10 years. An avid reader and frequent visitor to Philadelphia’s Free Library, she enjoys teaching young students how to dive into books, introducing them to the wonders and benefits of her teaching. She took her role seriously.

Her family called her work with children “her heart’s work” and said, “Her classrooms were full of butterflies, rabbits and lots of hugs.”

Mr. Miller worked as a librarian at Harvard University’s Wider Library in the 1960s, and as a senior business executive at Boston Safe Deposit and Trust Co. in Boston and Merrill Lynch in New York in the 1970s and 80s. One of the first women to enter Harvard Business School, she earned a master’s degree in business administration in 1970 and later won a leadership award at Boston Safe Her Deposits and Trusts, where she worked for 20 years. She served her colleagues and other women as an influential mentor.

She became active in the National Organization for Women in the 1960s, managing her local chapter in Massachusetts and advocating for the Equal Rights Amendment and other progressive initiatives on reproductive rights, education, the environment, and other issues. supported the initiative. She also worked with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America in Philadelphia.

Her daughter, also known as Madeline Elliott Miller, said, “She had a very strong sense of justice.

At the recommendation of a friend, Miller moved to Philadelphia in 1992 and fell in love with its people, history and neighborhood. She lived in Society Her Hill, volunteered at the library, school and soup kitchen, and was a role model for community action.

She cleaned the streets around her home and had others help remove weeds from nearby neglected gardens. I was. She was president of Macon Women’s College (now Randolph College) in Randolph, Virginia, where she earned her BA in English. She served on the board of Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest in Virginia.

“She always told us that everything must be better than what you find,” said her daughter.

Born September 29, 1944 in Norfolk, Virginia, Mr. Miller earned a master’s degree in library science from Simmons College (now Simmons University) in Boston, and early childhood education from Bank Street College of Education, in addition to business administration. I got in New York.

After their divorce, she married Harold Gordon Leggett in the early 2000s at the Mutter Museum. “She was an amazing woman and she was amazing in every way. In her heart, in her heart, in her spirit,” her husband said. “She made the world a better place.”

A single mother most of her life, Miller helped her daughter transition from childhood to adulthood almost seamlessly. She moves her into her new college dorms and apartments, drives her truck from city to city, and tells her that the journeys they’re exploring are just as important as the destinations they seek. shown in

“She approached everything like a new adventure,” said her daughter. “She was always chasing her own star.”

Polite, self-deprecating, and empathetic, Ms. Miller made friends everywhere. She had a haunting laugh, attended theater and orchestras, grew daffodils and ferns, and loved picking blackberries in the fields. She read her poem. She took care of cats, chinchillas and hermit crabs. And she taught her daughter and her granddaughter to “love bugs, dirt, flowers, books, and she herself.”

Her favorite song was Simon and Garfunkel’s 59th Street Bridge song. Her granddaughters, Vera and Freya, said “she gave me the best hug” and “she laughed so well”.

In addition to her daughter, granddaughter, and husband, Miller has sisters, ex-husbands, and other relatives.

A celebration of her life will be held later.

Donations in her name may be made to the Philadelphia Free Library, PO Box 7512, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19101.

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