Aug. 14, 1919 - Sept. 9, 2012
CORFU - Constance E. Miller, of Corfu, spent her career working with the mentally ill, then became a prominent advocate for them in retirement. She died Sunday in St. Joseph Campus of Sisters Hospital, Cheektowaga. She was 93.
Born Constance Plummer in Buffalo, she earned a degree in sociology from William Smith College, then joined the Red Cross and served overseas during World War II.
She was stationed in India at Army Air Forces headquarters and later was transferred to China, where she did radio publicity and broadcast two shows daily on American-operated Radio Tokyo. She also was a volunteer plotter for the Army Air Forces Early Warning System, tracking and identifying aircraft.
Returning to the U.S., she worked with the USO in Texas, Virginia and Massachusetts before returning to Buffalo and earning a master's degree in social work from the University of Buffalo.
Mrs. Miller held several positions at Buffalo Psychiatric Center and was the first woman nonmedical professional to hold the position of unit chief. She retired in 1980. She helped found the Restoration Society in Buffalo to assist recovering mental health clients.
The Genesee County Mental Health Association, which she helped to found after she moved here in 1981, created an award in her name which is given annually to an organization or person for conspicuous service on behalf of the mentally ill.
She was appointed by the governor to the Board of Visitors of Rochester Psychiatric Center. She also served on the Community Services Board of Genesee County, the board of Living Opportunities of Western New York and the DePaul Community Services Board.
She received many honors and awards. The Interclub Council of Western New York gave her its Susan B. Anthony Award in 1986. She received the Hyman Levin Professional Award from the Western New York Mental Health Association in 1974, the Volunteer of the Year Award in 1995 from the New York State Mental Health Association and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York State Commission of Mental Health in 2002.
Mrs. Miller was active for many years in the Women's Overseas Service League, a veterans organization comprising women from all services, civilian, military and government. She served as the group's historian and was an executive board member, Buffalo unit president and the first area director.
An avid gardener, she maintained an extensive vegetable garden at her summer home in Cohocton.
Surviving is a son, Douglas.
Services will follow calling hours from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in C.B. Beach & Son Mortuary, 4-6 Main St.