Noel Eugene Miller was born in Bristow, Oklahoma, on June 15, 1930, to Ethel Delilah and John Charles Miller. Noel and his four older sisters early years were spent living in the “oil patch” areas of Oklahoma because his father was employed in the burgeoning oil production industry. As Noel grew older, the family’s move to a farm near Yale, Oklahoma allowed Noel to participate in the Boy Scouts of America where he attained the rank of Eagle Scout and was inducted into Order of the Arrow. As a Future Farmer of America, he raised champion registered Berkshire show pigs.
Following graduation from Yale High School, he attended Oklahoma State University where he earned a degree in Vocational Agriculture Education, Animal Husbandry and Agriculture Engineering in preparation for becoming an Oklahoma County agent. However, he had bigger plans: during his years at OSU he was in Army ROTC, and upon graduation in 1952, he was commissioned a reserve officer in the United States Army Ordnance Corps. With his ultimate goal in mind to save enough money to attend medical school, he applied for, was accepted, and completed jump school training at Fort Benning, Georgia, and became a paratrooper in the elite 82nd Army Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. In 1954, after his honorable discharge from the military and with his savings from paratrooper pay, Noel returned to OSU – this time to make his life-long dream come true: he took the courses necessary for pre-med. In September 1955, he was accepted into the University Of Oklahoma School Of Medicine.
While attending medical school, Noel met a classmate, Bonnie Jeanne Gibson, whom he married on September 9, 1956, following their freshman year. The couple graduated from medical school at OU in June 1959 with two infant children in tow. After internship at St. John Hospital in Tulsa, Noel, along with Don Collins, MD, established what was then considered a general practice clinic, Okemah Medical Surgical Center in Okemah, Oklahoma. Dr. Collins moved on, leaving an opening for Charlie Elliott, MD whom joined Noel in the medical practice.
As a young professional in the area, Dr. Miller joined with other young leaders in the Okemah Jaycees, and together, they took on extensive projects to include the creation of the Jaycee Point picnic and camping area as well as a boating ramp at the newly constructed city lake.
Always forward looking, in 1970, Dr. Miller opened a state-of-the-art medical clinic. His ingenuity led him to contract information technologists (although no one called them that then) to create a computer system that could be used by medical clinics for patient accounting records. It was the first such system in Oklahoma.
After several years of practicing medicine with various colleagues, Noel was joined by his wife, Dr. Bonnie, in the medical practice that became known as Rural Oklahoma Health Care. Together, Dr. Noel and Dr. Bonnie endeavored to meet the medical needs of the residents of Okemah and neighboring communities. Dr. Noel enjoyed practicing in rural Oklahoma and took exceptional pride in knowing his patients personally. During his fifty-three year practice of medicine, Dr. Noel delivered more than 3000 babies and took pleasure in seeing the young people grow into adulthood and have children of their own, some of whom he delivered as well.
Dr. Noel served as chief of staff at the Okemah Hospital for several years and was part of the group that was instrumental in developing the new wing of that hospital as well as assisting in the development of the Wetumka General Hospital where he practiced in the late 1970s. Dr. Miller joined with several area physicians in securing approval for construction for an addition to the Henryetta Medical Center where he also served as chief of staff, and later, he was an admitting staff member of the Creek Nation Community Hospital. Throughout his career, Dr. Miller maintained memberships in the Okfuskee County Medical Society, The Oklahoma Medical Association and the American Medical Association.
Elected a Charter Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians in 1974, Dr. Miller maintained the certification until his retirement. He was also certified as a Diplomat of the American Board of Family Practice. He served as a preceptor for the OU School of Medicine in the training of medical students and physicians’ assistants. Dr. Miller used his experience as a rural family physician to introduce aspiring family practice physicians to the challenges of this unique service.
Spiritual life was important to Dr. Miller. He was a member of and served as a deacon of the Okemah First Baptist Church. He was instrumental in the establishment of a Christian youth center in Okemah which became known as the Lighthouse. He remained actively involved in church functions for many years.
After years of devoting most of his time to his practice, Dr. Miller, knowing that he needed a hobby to find some release from the pressures of a full-time rural medical practice as well as an opportunity to spend time with his teenage sons, decided to again take up raising show hogs. Along with his sons, he managed to turn a seven-hog 4-H hobby farm into a several hundred hog operation. With the hog operation going full steam, Bonnie’s family gifted 8 cows and heifers and, suddenly there was a hobby cattle operation. No surprise, this hobby took on a life of its own and he was “off to the races” so to speak. Dr. Miller did not seem to know the word “moderation” when it came to his ranching operation; therefore, more cattle were better and the cattle herd continued to grow. Everything said and done, he likely enjoyed his ranching endeavors as much as he did his practice of medicine. Every evening “Doc” would trade his office clothes for overalls and invite one and all to come see his prized animals. Those who took him up on the offer inevitably found themselves helping with the chores or simply sitting in the pickup truck with him looking at the cattle. Ranching was certainly his passion.
Dr. Miller is survived by his wife, Bonnie Jeanne Gibson Miller, MD and six children: Debbie Jeanne Abigail Miller, Donna Jane Campo (Robert), Deanna June Campo (Michael), Larry Noel Miller, John Gibson Miller (Ann) and Robert Jeffrey Miller (Chalet).
He is also survived by fifteen grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren and two sisters, Margaret Maxine Chaffin and Alberta Louise (Allie Lou) Cotton.
Dr. Miller is predeceased by his parents; his sister, Beulah Charline (Charlie) Duckett and Ellen Elizabeth (Betty) Riley as well as numerous brothers and sisters-in law.
Funeral services will be Saturday, February 9, 2019 at 2:00 PM at the First Baptist Church of Okemah. Interment and graveside services will be Monday at 2:00 PM at the Pleasant Ridge Cemetery in Hardesty, Oklahoma.
Services will be under the direction of Parks Brothers Funeral Home, Okemah, Oklahoma.
Online condolences may be made at www.ParksBrothersFuneralHome.com.