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June Miller keeping Clerk of Court’s office humming
By ANNA BROWN
June Miller said she thought her work in the Union County Clerk of Court's office was done when she retired in 2004.
She thought it was finally done in 2015 when she left again after working part time for five years.
Then, duty called again. And it just isn't like Mrs. Miller to say no. She is currently filling out the unexpired term of Freddie Gault, who resigned as clerk to take a job as liaison for Rep. Mick Mulvaney. She will be clerk of court until the new clerk takes office in January of 2017.
Mrs. Miller said when she retired in 2004 for the first time, she was not really happy. She said she really wished she could have worked two more years, but she did not want to retire in mid-term and require the county to have a special election.
But coming back to the office never crossed her mind.
“Then when Freddie was appointed (2009) he called me and said, 'Miss June, we need your help. If you could just come in three days a week for two or three months and help us to try and get us straightened out, it would mean so much. It is a big mess - we have 18 months of reports that have not been turned in.'”
Mrs. Miller said she told Gault that she would have to think about the offer
Mrs. Miller said she isn't a pack rat - when she thinks she won't ever use anything, she throws it away.
But when she retired as Union County Clerk of Court after 20 years of service, she kept a box that contained her official stamps and seals. She also had a file cabinet with copies of reports.
“It was everything I had used in the clerk of court's office,” she said. “I pulled all that out to sort of refresh my memory. I told Freddie I would have to talk to Joel (her husband of 60 years) and we would have to pray about it.”
Mrs. Miller came back to help for what was supposed to be a few months. She stayed five years.
“Instead of working three days I ended up working five days a week to go on and get it done,” she said with a laugh. “As time went on, I did slow down. But every time I mentioned to Freddie that it was time to get someone else, he would say, 'This is working out fine.'”
In June of 2015 the county faced a budget crisis and some positions had to be eliminated. Mrs. Miller said she decided then she needed to go ahead and leave her job.
“I went to Freddie and said, 'It's time for me to go.'” she said.
The Millers' daughter, Carolyn, and her family came to eat with her parents on Thanksgiving.
“I heard her telling her daddy, 'If my mother talks about going back to work anymore that is one time I am going to put my foot down,” Mrs. Miller said.
Then in December Gault called and said he wanted her to be appointed in his place.
“The first thing I thought about is what Carolyn said,” Mrs. Miller said.
There were many things to consider. Joel has had some health problems. Mrs. Miller's 96-year-old mother, Marguerite Harvey, lives next door to them.
“Joel loves her,” Mrs. Miller said. “He could not love a mother any more than he loves my mother. And I tell people she loves Joel more than she loves me.”
Mrs. Miller called Carolyn and reminded her of what she had said.
“She said, “Mother, the reason I said that was that was your life. You were up their weekends; you didn't take vacations a lot of times because you felt like you needed to be there. If you could go back up there, help them with things, work 9 to 5, not bring it home, just get things the way it should be, that would be fine. But I don't believe you can do that.' I said this time, I think I can.”
The Millers prayed about it and decided June should take the offer. In their 60 years of marriage they have relied on prayer a lot, she said.
The Millers met when they were teen-agers. Mrs. Miller was a member at Mon-Aetna Baptist Church. Joel's father was the first full-time pastor at Philippi Baptist Church - the Rev. Coy Miller. Mrs. Miller visited Philippi with a friend.
“We were just children when we got married,” she said. “We now have five great-grandsons.” (Carolyn and her husband, Terry, have two daughters, Christi Barkley and Katie Kerley.)
Mrs. Miller laughs as she tells the story of her and Joel's wedding. Joel gave her a diamond when she was in the 11th grade. They had plans for a church wedding, on June 16 after she graduated from high school. Neighbor Andy Littlejohn would be the ring bearer. His mother already had his little suit laid away. June's cousin would be the flower girl. Rachel Bishop Kendrick would be the maid of honor. Joel's father and the Rev. John Hicks of Mon-Aetna would do the service.
But Joel began to feel like he just couldn't go through the stress of a church wedding. They decided to elope - after June's senior prom.
“I was just 17,” Mrs. Miller said. “We told a story about my age and got a marriage license. We started planning things and putting things away - under my bed and behind my bed. I packed a little suitcase.”
Joel asked a couple of pastors to officiate the wedding. Out of respect for his father, none would agree. Joel told his mother what they had planned.
When Mrs. Miller came out of school, her mother and Joel's mother were waiting for her. They told her if she and Joel were determined to get married, Joel's father would perform the service. First, the matter of the marriage license had to be straightened out.
Word got around in town. Ruth Chalk, who sold clothing, sent Mrs. Miller some items before the wedding. Mrs. Miller weighed 92 pounds. Her mother took her to the children's department at Belk and brought her some pedal pushers to wear at the beach.
“We got married at 7 o'clock, went to the prom at 8 o'clock and left for the beach at 9 o'clock,” Mrs. Miller said. “I got married in my prom dress. Lucille got Andy's suit out of layaway, my cousin was my flower girl. Rachel wore her prom dress. Roland Kirby came and played the organ. We had a church wedding anyway and we wouldn't take anything in the world for it.”
Now 77, Mrs. Miller said she thinks this time she is retiring for the last time. She hopes to spend more time with Joel, her mother, and the rest of her family. She thanks her co-workers in the Clerk of Court's Office for making this last time there special. When they encouraged her to take the job they told her they would back her up anytime she needed to take personal time. She said she appreciated Amy Gibson, who stepped up to do the duties of deputy clerk in the absence of Donna Owings, who had to undergo surgery.
“They have been the best group to work with,” she said. “They told me, 'Whatever you have going on if you need to leave we're here for you.'”
Gault said Mrs. Miller has “done her time and done it well.” He said when Mrs. Miller agreed to take the clerk of court's position, the people who work in her office as well as other clerks of court across the state were grateful because they knew what a good job she would do.
“She is a hard worker and she is a very dedicated person,” he said. “She takes the job to heart. To really be the clerk of court it can't be a 9 to 5 job. You have to live it. When you get home you get calls all the time - people with issues and problems and sometimes you can help them and sometimes you can't.”
16th Judicial Circuit Judge John C. Hayes III said he first met Mrs. Miller when he was sworn in 25 years ago. He said she looks the same as she did then, always well dressed and with a pleasant smile.
“She has taught me a lot about how to handle court and how to handle people in general,” he said.
(Posted May 30, 2016)