Cora Gene Miller
Cora Eugenia “Cora Gene” DeBerry Miller died at her lifelong home on College Street in Savannah, on Monday, July 26.
She was born on Dec. 12, 1924, in Hardin County, to Una Mae Adkins and John Herman “Hank” DeBerry who preceded her in death, as did dear brother John Herman “Jack” DeBerry of Somerset, Ky.
Her early childhood years were spent traveling and living in New York and Florida during her father’s professional baseball career as a catcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers and a talent scout for the New York Giants. However, since the age of 9, she lived in and loved her home near the Tennessee River. She obtained her education at North Elementary and Central High Schools in Savannah, attended Christian (Columbia) College in Columbia, Mo., and graduated from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, majoring in education and minoring in music and French.
While working as an administrative assistant for the Tennessee Valley Authority and teaching G.I. Bill courses at Peabody College in Nashville, she met her true love, Tommy Miller of Ripley, Tenn. They married on Dec. 28, 1946, at First United Methodist Church in Savannah where they were faithful servants together for 53 years until his death on July 1, 2000.
Cora Gene shared her gifts and talents as church organist/pianist for 40+ years, taught Sunday school classes, delivered Meals on Wheels, and was active in UMW, Bible studies, and many ministry committees.
Following Tommy’s graduation and her father’s death in 1951, they returned to College Street to live with “Miss Una Mae.” Cora Gene then went to work as a legal secretary at Ross & Ross Law Firm. Thereafter, she resumed her teaching profession in 1956 at Central High School, where she loved teaching English literature and college prep for over 30 years and was a beloved teacher to many.
After retirement she became involved in various social and civic activities including Savannah Planning Commission and efforts toward downtown revitalization. She also enjoyed devoting time to hobbies, walking, traveling, visiting, bridge-playing, and working crossword puzzles.
On July 27, 1957, she and Tommy welcomed adopted, only and surviving daughter, Joanne, into their lives, and for many years they immensely blessed her and devoted son-in-law Paul F. Cole of Franklin, Tenn.
Cora Gene is also survived by sister-in-law Pat DeBerry of Somerset, Ky., namesake nieces Claudia Gene DeBerry of Bloomington, Ind. and Mary Gene (Satch) Sauls as well as Laura DeMatti, Marion, Ark. and nephews Hank DeBerry III, Lexington, Ky. and Tommy Miller, Ripley, Tenn. She will be much missed by cousin Pat Adkins Hill and loyal companion Buddy.
Visitation was held in the sanctuary of her cherished First United Methodist Church, Thursday, July 29, 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m., followed by 3 p.m. Service of Death, Resurrection and Celebration of Life officiated by Rev. Dr. Ed Britt and Rev. Libby Baxter. Brief graveside service and burial at Savannah Cemetery.
Special gratitude to Dr. and Mrs. John D. Lay, Hardin Medical Center and EMS staffs, dedicated caregivers and friends Linda Stricklin, Michele Erwin, Brenda Vanhoose, Linda Hill, Ruth Ann Gant and Peggy Taylor Moore and to her College Street neighbors and church family. Gifts of prayers are coveted and memorial contributions may be made to Savannah First United Methodist Church, 270 Main Street, Savannah, TN 38372, or Calvary United Methodist Church Organ Renovation Fund, 3701 Hillsboro Road, Nashville, TN 37215.