Olive Hilda Miller passed away at The Pines Retirement Home in George Town Tuesday afternoon. She was 98.
Legislators at a meeting of the House on Wednesday paid tribute to Miller, whom they described as a “Caymanian icon”.
Premier Alden McLaughlin said Miller was an “absolute institution”, who was “very near and dear” to everyone in the Legislative Assembly.
Flags were being flown at half-staff at all government buildings Wednesday as a mark of respect, and will also be lowered on the day of her funeral.
The premier said he had known Miller all of his life as she was his former Sunday school teacher and a supporter of his who would attend the annual Progressives Christmas party at his home.
He said in her latter days she “was still very much a part of the community, a real social butterfly” who was always “lending her advice, her good cheer and good counsel”.
He said she has lived an “incredibly productive life”, one that was filled with love, happiness and tears “but she never lost her will to live, to participate in her community”.
This was a view shared by North Side MLA and nephew Ezzard Miller.
He said she was a “special lady” who never missed an opportunity to celebrate life and to help others.
“Her footprints will forever be clearly marked in the social-economic development of the Cayman Islands from her arrival,” he said.
“None of the things that she did was for self-gratification or public acknowledgement. They were truly altruistic,” he added.
Deputy House Speaker Barbara Conolly, in delivering Miller’s obituary, said she was a community stalwart who lived a long and fruitful life.
She said Miller had suffered many hardships in her life, including the loss of her husband Ray and son Nigel, “but she never lost sight of her mission to the community”.
Conolly said Miller’s impact will be long remembered as “she stuck to the community of the Cayman Islands”.
“We are all blessed and lucky to have her in our community,” she said.
Conolly said she had spoken with Miller’s daughter, Kathryn, who told her, “Miss Olive had a wonderful life, and the only things she never did were bungee jump and jump out of an airplane.”
“Cayman has lost a wonderful human being,” said Savannah MLA Anthony Eden.
Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, Health Minister Dwayne Seymour, Finance Minister Roy McTaggart, Attorney General Samuel Bulgin, George Town West MLA David Wight and George Town Central MLA Kenneth Bryan also paid tribute to Miller and extended their condolences to her family.
Miller’s lifelong community service to the Cayman Islands was recognised in 2018 when she was named an Officer of the British Empire in the Queen’s Honour List, some 40 years after receiving the Member of the British Empire honour.
She also had been named as one of the ‘Quincentennial Women of the Cayman Islands’ in 2003. According to a biography posted by Government Information Services at that time to celebrate the recipients, Miller was born in Essex, England, and in 1946 she sailed to Jamaica as a missionary youth worker for the Church of Scotland. During this time, she also worked in Grand Cayman.
Miller answered the local Presbyterian Church’s request for a mission worker, and in 1949 became a teacher at the new Cayman High School, while working on the weekends with district churches.
She founded the Girls’ Guildry in 1946 which became the Girls’ Brigade in 1965. From 1983 to the present, Miller had been vice-patron of Brigade International.
In the mid-1960s, she helped establish Cayman’s first newspaper and was the first government information officer.
In 1982, Miller was seconded as a government youth and community worker with the then National Council of Social Services, now known as the National Council of Voluntary Organisations.
She remained with NCVO since then, organising programmes and facilities such as The Pines Retirement Home, Pines Villas, Caring Cousins Welfare Scheme, and the Nadine Andreas Children’s Centre.
Miller was also a Justice of the Peace, served in Juvenile Court and was Chairperson of the Bench. In 1980, she founded the Pink Ladies Volunteer Corps, and in 1994 was responsible for the first annual Glamorous Granny competition.
Funeral details are yet to be released.
A more detailed obituary will appear in a later edition.