African American News and Genealogy

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

Dr. Rosalie Reddick Miller, 1925-2005: Worked to improve patient care, civil rights

By CHRISTINE FREYSEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER Rosalie Reddick Miller, who experienced firsthand the effects of racism, was an advocate for patients, especially those who were discriminated against. At a time when dentists refused to care for people who had AIDS, for instance, she pushed for their fair treatment, recalled her daughter Miriam Miller. "She had great concern for the patients, that they be treated humanely," Miriam said. "She was ahead of her times." Miller, the first African American woman dentist to practice in Seattle, died Monday at the age of 79 after a battle with cancer. During her long career, she worked to improve patient care, mentored students at the University of Washington and advocated for civil rights. The daughter of a Georgia dentist, Miller enrolled in Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn., to study dentistry. She was a freshman when she met the medical student she would later marry, Dr. Earl V. Miller. The couple had five children. She later returned to Georgia and took over her father's practice. While in the South, the Millers worked to advance civil rights; in one instance, they protested an all-white golf course in Georgia that was paid for with public funds, Miriam recalled. The family moved to Seattle in the late 1950s. "(We) understood that Seattle had open housing, integrated schools and he (Earl) would have no problem finding office space," Rosalie said in a January interview when her husband died. "And it turns out none of those things were true, but we stuck it out." Earl Miller was Seattle's first African American urologist. Rosalie Miller practiced at Group Health Dental Cooperative and served as the director of dental programs for the Community Health Board of Model Cities. Miller, who received a master's in public health from the University of Washington, was an assistant professor of dentistry there for 15 years until she retired in 1991. There she served as a mentor to many students, who often sought her counsel. Carl Gross, a friend and former UW dentistry student, said she was vivacious and fearless. "You could always tell when Rosalie was in the room," he said. She lived at Seward Park with her husband for 40 years before they sold their house and moved into a First Hill apartment. Her children described her as a strong and generous woman who loved her family. Pollene Speed McIntyre, a friend and former UW student, credited Miller with helping her complete the university's dentistry program. Miller also influenced many of the values that she holds today, McIntyre said, showing her the importance of setting high standards and helping other people. "We can still see the effects, the impact of what she's done through other people," she said. In addition to her children, Miller is survived by four grandchildren. At her request, there will be no service. The family asks that donations be sent to Meharry Medical College in lieu of flowers. P-I reporter Christine Frey can be reached at 206-448-8176 or


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