We are sad to report the death of Jerri Ann Miller on July 30, 2021, wife to former executive vice president of the Fraternity and president of the Foundation, Robert J. “Bob” Miller, New Mexico ’50.
Mrs. Miller’s impact on the Fraternity from the moment of her husband’s appointment to lead the organization in 1955 was full of grace, purpose, and dignity. She skillfully served as an ambassador within the Fraternity at General Headquarters, conferences, and events, but also inter-fraternally at the many association meetings and peer gatherings required of leaders of Greek societies.
Jerri’s support of her husband’s demanding role remained steadfast throughout his service, and more recently, she helped Coni Biggs’ transition in the 1990s when Bob Biggs took the position. Coni and Bob Biggs and Jerri and Bob Miller became very good friends as they traveled together often. There are countless funny stories and many shared memories of situations that were handled by the competent hands of Jerri Miller.
Coni Biggs shares these thoughts about their relationship, “Jerri Miller was a dear friend who was always very gracious, kind, and generous. She was very supportive of me when my husband became the Fraternity and Foundation chief executive. Jerri became my role model and mentor.”
“Our relationship grew stronger with every trip or dinner outing with Phi Delt and inter-fraternity friends. I will remember her fondly and she will be deeply missed.”
In addition to her role as ambassador to the Fraternity, wife and supporter to her husband Bob, she was mother to Rob and Dennis, sister, mother-in-law, grandmother, great grandmother, and friend. She was an accomplished seamstress and artist. And her impact on the community through her civic work and advocacy remains in her Oxford community.
Cards and notes of sympathy may be sent to:
Robert J. Miller
Knolls of Oxford
Attention: Activities Department
6727 Contreras Road
Oxford, OH 45056
Also, memorial contributions to the Phi Delta Theta Foundation in Jerri Miller’s name will be acknowledged to family members. A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date.
Obituary of Jerri Ann Miller (nee Burran)
Jerri Ann Burran was born November 23, 1930, in Chickasha, Oklahoma. She was predeceased by her parents, James Albert and Vivian Crawford Burran, and her brothers James Albert and John Robert.
Jerri attended Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri for one year, then enrolled at Texas Tech in Lubbock as an art major. After a year at Tech, she transferred to University of New Mexico (UNM). Jerri later took coursework at Miami University toward a teaching degree. It was at UNM where she pledged Kappa Kappa Gamma, became acquainted with the Phi Delts, and, in a fraternity-sorority touch football game, physically and emotionally tackled one particular Phi named Robert J. Miller.
Bob and Jerri attended the same graduation ceremony, where he got his master’s in school administration and she a bachelor’s in Fine Art. Bob had attended Miami University while working for Phi Delta Theta in Oxford and had his credits transferred to UNM so they could graduate together.
Bob and Jerri were married on Thursday, June 5, 1952, in the Sacred Heart Church in Clovis, New Mexico.
Bob was working at Phi Delta Theta General Headquarters as a chapter consultant when they married. Three months later they attended a Phi Delta Theta General Convention in French Lick, Indiana. Starting in Indiana, Jerri worked alongside the staff without pay to prepare and orchestrate the convention, leading social events and programs for family members. The many Conventions and other Phi Delt host duties prepared Jerri in later life for leading events at Miami University’s chapter of the Institute for Learning in Retirement (ILR).
Their son, Robert James Miller Jr., was born in 1954 and, seven years later, they adopted another son, Dennis Burran Miller. They built their first and only private residence on Hilltop Road, one of the first homes in the Hill and Hollow neighborhood in Oxford. She taught herself to cook after marriage and, eventually though not without many humorous family stories, became an exceptional chef.
Jerri and Bob were part of two wonderful supper clubs in Oxford, dining monthly in rotation at member homes, sharing the struggles of young families and, later, traveling together in retirement. During their marriage, the Millers traveled to every state in the US and thirty-nine countries.
Jerri was named a 1992 Citizen of the Year in Oxford. She worked as a volunteer buyer for the McCullough-Hyde Hospital gift shop, delivered clothing and meals to the needy, and befriended many sick, lonely, and unfortunate residents of Oxford. She was an active member of PEO (a women’s philanthropic educational organization) having been initiated in Clovis, New Mexico when her mother was president of that chapter. Jerri was a PEO charter member of Chapter CB in Oxford and served in every office. When that chapter got very large, she chartered a new PEO Chapter EQ and served as president of that chapter as well.
For years she was active in St. Mary’s Catholic Church, where she served as an extraordinary minister, taking communion to the home bound. She also served with St. Vincent de Paul, taking food to needy people within the diocese.
Jerri was an advocate, fundraiser, and manager for “The Help Van” when Oxford had no public transportation. She arranged staff for the program: two volunteers per day, six days a week. She also delivered food for Meals on Wheels.
Jerri volunteered with the Chamber of Commerce to establish the Oxford Tourist and Visitor’s Bureau.
She served as chair of the Advocacy Committee for those with intellectual disabilities at a home in Fairfield, Ohio, where her adult brother lived in his later years.
Jerri taught herself to sew, eventually working from home as a representative for Leiter’s Designer Fabrics while offering sewing classes in her home studio. She took classes at Miami University to study clothing construction, eventually teaching sewing herself, as an adjunct professor.
Using her degree in art, she served as a docent for the Miami Art Museum and conducted programs at many area schools. Later, she took classes from the Institute for Learning in Retirement and eventually became chair of its Special events committee.
Jerri is survived by her husband, Bob, her two sons, their wives, six grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. She will be remembered for her exacting and generous nature, her love of the arts, her culinary abilities, and her deep commitment to those less fortunate.