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The Voice of the Black Community

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Former CMS principal ‘Pop’ Miller remembered
Towering school desegregation figure dead at 94
 
Published Wednesday, March 5, 2014 8:14 am
by Herbert L. White

Leroy “Pop” Miller was more than a teacher and administrator at West Charlotte High, Carmel Junior High and East Mecklenburg High.

PHOTO/GREG MCMURRAY
Leroy “Pop” Miller, a former principal at three Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, at East Mecklenburg High’s homecoming in 2010. Mr. Miller died Feb. 28 in Kansas City, Mo., at age 94.

He was a towering figure who helped set the standard for academic and personal achievement when Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools transitioned to desegregated campuses in the 1970s. 

Mr. Miller, 94, died on Feb. 28 in Kansas City, Mo. His funeral is Sunday at 3 p.m. at Greenville Memorial AME Zion Church, 6116 Montieth Drive. Visitation is from 1:30-3 p.m.

Mr. Miller, who spent 37 years in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, was a stern yet even-handed teacher and principal beginning at all-black West Charlotte, where he taught industrial arts from 1945-1963. He had a sense of justice as well as humor, said Charlotte Post co-publisher Bob Johnson, who took a woodshop class under Miller at West Charlotte in 1955.

“When Pop would catch you chewing gum in his class, he would have you take the gum and put it in castor oil and have you chew it,” Johnson said. “One day, we caught him chewing gum and the class grabbed him and made him take castor oil. He was so fair, nothing happened to the boys in his class for doing that.”

Mr. Miller became assistant principal in 1963 and was promoted to principal at newly-desegregated Carmel Junior High in 1971. Two years later, he was named principal at East Mecklenburg, where he became a father figure for his no-nonsense approach to treating students.

Mr. Miller was among a distinguished group of African American principals and administrators during the desegregation era that included Kat Crosby, Gerson Stroud, Bob Davis and Bertha Maxwell-Roddey. Together, their legacy still carries an impact.

“They had the love of children and the desire to guide them,” Johnson said. “Pop would laugh and joke with you and hit you upside the head at the same time. He instilled achievement, a way of bettering your position in life.”

 

Comments

I am 54 years old & live with my husband in Farmington, CT. We have three wonderful children ages 33, 30 & 28 and a lovely daughter-in-law. I was fortunate enough to attend East Meck when Pop Miller was principal, and reading this just brought back so many memories! Pop Miller didn't mess around, but he had the perfect combination of love & discipline. I remember that he didn't allow you to chew gum and he always had something to say to those of us who smoked. That being said, he is one of those bigger than life people who influence your life forever. It has been a longgg time ago, but I am grateful that he was part of one the most significant times in my life. I am sure most of us still remember our days at East Meck well and Pop Miller has a lot to do with that. He will be missed by many, but never be forgotten... He is probably up in heaven, looking down saying, "I did good!" Rest in peace Pop Miller
Posted on March 6, 2014
 
What a great man, leader, educator, father & friend that impact so many lives in such a powerful, positive & caring manner, Thank You "Pop Miller" for the many paths you've paved for so many people.
Posted on March 6, 2014
 
A great teacher, a great assistant principal, A great principal, an even greater man. RIP Pop.
Posted on March 6, 2014
 
I will always remember "Pop" Miller as one of the most inspiring people in my youth. He set the standard for how school administrators and students can combine their educational and emotional growth. May he rest in perfect peace!
Posted on March 5, 2014
 

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