Late doctor remembered through building

By Leslie Radford

Clovis Community College will host an open-house for the Dr. H.A. Miller Student Services Center at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday in memory of H.A. Miller.

One trustee of Miller’s account Richard Rowley said he remembers Miller, a family friend and local doctor in the 1940s, from his early childhood.

“He was really a character,” Rowley said. “The story was that he had a black bear in a cage behind the hospital and he used to wrestle it.”

Rowley recalled Miller as being a big man who wore a Panama suit and hat, drove a big Lincoln and always had a cigar in his mouth. Rowley doesn’t recall getting to experience the bear-wrestling firsthand, but referred to the Curry County High Plains Historical Foundation’s register published in 1978.

In it, Miller’s niece, Helen S. Maher, had written a narrative of the eccentric doctor’s life. She mentioned the nameless bear Miller would grapple “for the amusement of the youngsters” behind the hospital in which he helped establish in the early 1900s.

The purpose of the bear?

“Why, to show off, of course,” said Lynell Skarda, a friend of Miller. “He’d show up in his English riding pants.”

Skarda, an 89-year-old Clovis attorney and owner of Citizen’s Bank of Clovis, said the two men became friends after a couple of Skarda’s children were delivered by Miller — the eldest being one of the first delivered in the county.
Skarda said Miller and his wife Theresa would frequently entertain at their home on Gidding Street.

“He worked hard and wanted to share his success with friends,” said Skarda, who mentioned how the Miller could recite from memory Shakespeare or express his favorite opera after an evening of drinking.

“A man of many facets, Dr. Miller had a keen appreciation of classical music, possessed a very acceptable voice, and when in a certain mood or on special occasions, would burst forth with an aria from one of his favorite operas,” according to Maher’s dedication in the historical foundation’s register.
Miller died in 1963. A provision in his will set forth a foundation to offer low interest loans to Curry County high school graduates entering the medical or dental field, according to Rowley.
Rowley said once government grants and loans were made more accessible to students, people simply stopped making requests for loans through the foundation.

“The money was just sitting there,” Rowley said.

Rowley thought the most appropriate thing to do with the funds would be to donate it to the community, just as Miller’s friend W.D. Dabbs did with his trust. The CCC Library/Technology Center was named after Dabbs in 2002.

The trio went to the district court last year to ask for authorization to turn almost $100,000 over to Clovis Community College to be used for capital improvements in honor of Miller.

CCC’s project cost approximately $172,000, according to Dean of Student Services Michelle Schmidt, who said the relocation of the various offices, like financial aid, admissions and campus life programs, will alleveiate some of the stress students experience during the enrollment process.

The Dr. H.A. Miller Student Services Center is located just inside the Commons at the main entrance of the college where a food reception will begin about 11:30 a.m. with a dedication at 12:15 p.m. Tours by student services staff of the facility will follow.