Tate, along with others who’d known Miller for decades, had little insight into her personal life. He said she had a way of making it clear that she had no intention of discussing it.
He said he learned she was ill only because she uncharacteristically didn’t return his calls in recent weeks.
Tate called Miller a “moderate-to-conservative Republican who believed strongly in the free enterprise system versus entitlements, which she viewed as the government’s socialistic effort to gain more control over people.’’
She was “very knowledgeable about constitutional issues and believed in the two-party system,’’ Tate added. “She thought that people should vote for the person, not the party,’’ and acknowledged having voted for a Democrat, though she’d never say who.
Miller led the party during years of internal unrest, Tate noted, and “held it together when it was troubled, in the ’90s.’’
As she stepped down from her party position in 2008, allies worked secretly to have a stretch of Hialeah Drive between Okeechobee Road and LeJeune Road was named Mary Ellen Miller Way in 2008.
Ros helped arrange the naming — revealed one Sunday after Miller left services at Hialeah’s Faith Lutheran Church — knowing Miller might not be pleased because she was “so humble.’’
“She whispered in my ear: ‘You will pay for this,’ ’’ Ros recalled.
Miller is survived by her husband, Duane Miller; son Rick Miller, a Keys charter boat captain; and daughter Barbara Kolterjahn, a Michigan pastor’s wife. Two sons predeceased her, Tim and David.
Faith Lutheran’s pastor, the Rev. Mark Wessling, said Miller always returned to the church of her younger days to worship.
He said that when anyone questioned why she’d drive from the Venetian Islands to Hialeah, she’d say: “ ‘It’s my town. The church is my home.’ She stuck with this church through all its changes.’’
He said that a memorial service at the church, 293 Hialeah Dr., is tentatively scheduled for her birthday, April 20.