Ann Marie Miller passed away on December 6th. She was 66 years old. She was a familiar face at the Portland Post Office for over thirty years.
Born September 17, 1951 in St. Johns, Ann was raised in Pewamo, and graduated from Pewamo-Westphalia High School in 1969.
After starting her career with the USPS as a carrier in Ionia delivering mail, Ann changed positions in 1981 and moved to the Portland post office where he would work until her retirement in 2014, after a total of 37 years of service.
In September of 1982, Ann and her husband Daryl were involved in a motorcycle accident in the hills of Tennessee. According to her son, Chad Miller, “Mom was paralyzed from the waist down due to a damaged spinal cord.” He added, “She landed on a rock that pinched her spinal cord. She always hoped that since the spinal cord was only pinched that someday there would have been new technology to repair it and she would walk again. Harrington rods were permanently placed on each side of her spine.”
Despite her injury, Ann was determined to return to work. With the help of then Portland Postmaster Carolyn Charles, Ann was able to do just that.
Chad explained, “Carolyn fought to allow Ann to return to work when there were very few disability laws and regulations. The post office needed a few changes to make it accessible for Ann to do her job, in which, her husband, Daryl, a hobby woodworker was able to modify areas of the post office to make it feasible for Ann to do her job.”
The Americans with Disabilities Act, better known of ADA, which created legal requirements for employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities, as well as preventing discrimination against these employees, was not enacted until 1990.
In a newspaper clipping from 1989 believed to be from either the Portland Review & Observer or Lansing State Journal, Ann is quoted as saying, “I was lucky; our building was new at the time of the accident and was pretty accessible.” In the same article she was quoted as saying, “The people in this office and the customers have been very good to me. They’ve made it much easier for me to cope with the necessary changes in my lifestyle.”
In a newsletter named “The POST DISPATCH”, dated May 17, 1985, it states that, “Ann serves an average of 176 customers daily. She drives herself to and from work, maintains an active household, and on Friday nights goes to watch her two sons – Scott, 13 and Chad, 11, at their wrestling meets.”
Ann would not let her injury stop her in her personal life either. Chad said that with the help of her family, Ann explored underground caves, and enjoyed some white-water rafting after her injury. She was the type of woman that would not let adversity slow her down.
Ann would eventually come to wear out her vertebrae due to years of working. According to Chad, “A surgery in 2012 would begin a spiral of ongoing additional complications as well as multiple surgeries over the next five years. In 2014, Ann retired from the Post Office due to the deterioration of her spine below the rods.”
Chad added, “The latest surgery in April, 2017 would result in a two-month hospital stay. She was fighting hard to regain her strength and get back to ‘normal.’ After a long summer and fall, she would yet again come down with illness that put her back in the hospital for a month in October. With many complications and a continued loss of independence Ann decided to finish out her final days at home with her loving family.”
Long time co-worker Mike Cook fondly recalled his time working with Ann. Mike said, “I worked with her for over thirty years. We got to know each other pretty well. We developed a brother/sister type relationship. She would tell me just what she thought, and I would do the same to her. It was very candid. She was always dedicated to doing a good job, and was proud of what she did.”
Ann is survived by her husband of 48 years, Daryl, her two sons; Scott (Brenda) Miller and Chad (Nikki) Miller of Portland, Michigan; her grandchildren Trent and Ryan Miller (Scott and Brenda), Devin and Drew Miller (Chad and Nikki); her sister Janet (Larry) Thelen of Portland; her brothers; Robert (Judy) Bushong of Corunna, John (Linda) Bushong of Grand Ledge, of Rick (Lisa) Bushong of Portland, and her nieces and nephews, her furry friend, Elvis and other relatives.
For those desiring, memorial donations can be made in Ann’s name to either the Portland Athletic Association by check to: PAA, 1100 Ionia Road, Portland, MI. 48875 or by PayPal at www.portlandathleticassociation.org or to the Portland Community Fund Association by check to: P.O. Box 524, Portland, MI 48875 or online at www.portlandcommunityfund.org.