Jo Ann Orr Miller
Waco - Jo Ann Orr Miller, 87, of Waco, TX, died Wednesday, August 11, 2021. Graveside services were on Saturday, August 21, at Maple Grove Cemetery, Minden TX. A memorial service will be held October 23, 2021, at Lake Shore Baptist Church, 5801 Bishop Drive, Waco, TX.
Jo Ann was preceded in death by her husband, Boyd Miller; parents, Merwyn and Dorothy Orr; and great-granddaughter, Harper Elizabeth Miller.
She is survived by her son Gary Miller and wife, Beth; daughters Caryl Miller-Compton and husband, Kevin; Karyn Miller Brooks and husband, Joe; grandchildren Thomas Miller, David Miller and wife, Emily, Andrew Reynolds and wife, Elizabeth, Matthew Reynolds, Molly Hepp, Kyle Compton and wife, Macall, Ross Compton, Koby Compton, Jimmy Brooks and fiancée Nicolasa Roman, and Becky Brooks; and great-grandchildren, Paul and Luke Reynolds, Olsen Compton, and Danny Brooks; and surrogate daughter Juliana Reese and husband Brad Reynolds, and surrogate granddaughter Melody.
After graduation from Henderson High School in 1951, Jo Ann earned a Bachelor's degree in Home Economics from Texas State College for Women (now Texas Woman's University) in 1955 that led her to teaching positions in Odessa, New Deal, and Brownwood, Texas. In 1981, she earned a Master's in Education from Tarleton State University followed by a Vocational Counseling License from University of North Texas. She was a Vocational Counselor at Brownwood High School and later Carthage High School.
During a mission trip to Brownfield, Texas, in 1957, Jo Ann met Boyd Gilbert Miller, who proposed to her twice before she said yes. They married November 28, 1958, at the Pleasant Springs Presbyterian Church in Patrick Community, Texas. Because she was an only child, Jo Ann was thrilled to marry someone with eight siblings! Boyd put up with Jo Ann's silliness for 50 years (most of which were pretty darned happy) before his death in 2009. He once said that their marriage was "just about as perfect as a marriage could be."
Exactly one year to the day after marriage, they had the first of three children. Jo Ann often jested that all three of her kids were accidents. She was sweet and sardonic, smart, and silly. She encouraged love, faith, laughter, hard work, playfulness, and thoughtfulness. Above all else, Jo Ann and Boyd instilled the value of family in their children which carries on to this day.
Although Jo Ann would have labeled herself as "shy" as a child, folks who knew her would disagree. Her zest for life may have shown brightest during the days she worked with her daughter at their store, Gourmet Gallery, in Waco. Most of the friends of Gourmet Gallery say that the main reason they came to the store was to visit Jo Ann. Whether conducting a "Cooking the Books" book talk, planning a culinary excursion to Italy or Ireland, talking with customers about cookware, or just sharing a glass of wine with customers and friends, Jo Ann was truly the Mother of Gourmet Gallery. If she ran out of wine at the store, she could regularly be seen at The Grape and said she wanted to go "where everybody knows my name." She truly loved all the crew there – and they loved her.
Jo Ann cherished people, her church (especially the "Lunch Bunch"), social events, and good wine and food. She had an adventurous spirit and treasured travel, especially with her children and grandchildren. She was particularly fond of Ireland and loved to share a "wee dram" with all who would join her.
According to nephew Jerry Miller, "She was our matriarch, our Queen Mum, and people naturally gravitated to and wanted to be with her…. Short in stature, with a soft, melodious Texas drawl and plenty of homey aphorisms, she was nonetheless, as they say, a 'pistol.' Jo Ann had opinions about everything – books, movies, culture, and politics – and was not afraid to express them. Especially politics. She was a yellow dog Democrat in a Republican state, but was able to politically disagree, including within our own family, without being disagreeable…."
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Lake Shore Baptist Church, 5801 Bishop Drive, Waco, TX 76710; the Harper Elizabeth Miller Scholarship, Waco ISD Education Foundation, PO Box 2369, Waco, TX 76703; or Shriners Hospitals for Children at LoveToTheRescue.org. Or, if you would like to contribute to the family for this very lengthy obituary…. Let the love and laughter of Jo Ann live on.
Posted online on August 27, 2021