Bessie Thomas Miller, 97 of Woodbury, was born, reared and lived all of her life in Cannon Co. She rode her pony to attend Bradvyille Elementary School, which was built the same year in which she was born, 1918. After graduating from Woodbury High School and receiving her teaching certificate from Middle Tennessee State University (known then as State Teachers' College) at 17, she began her teaching career at Bradyville Elementary. Because she was only 17 when the school term began, officials delayed the opening two weeks to allow Bessie to turn 18. Her first class at Bradyville had an enrollment of 50 first and second-graders. After teaching for 11 years, "Miss Bessie" as she is known by most everyone, began working with the Department of Human Services, a career which lasted 38 years.
She always had a passion for painting and in 1998 picked up her acrylics and painted hundreds of canvasses in the following 15 years. She won the Spring Art Show at the Murfreesboro Art League in 1999 and many other blue ribbons come her way.
Following her retirement 35 years ago, she was active in Retired Teachers Association, Historical Society, Senior Citizens Center and the Rook Club. She also volunteered with the American Red Cross, Stones River Hospital and the Adams Memorial Library. Ms. Bessie was a devoted member of the Woodbury Church of Christ.
She is survived by her loving children, Rita Miller Grisham of Milton, Judy (Glenn) Higgins of Woodbury, Thomas E. "Tommy" Miller of Woodbury and Philip "Phil" Glen Miller of Shelbyville; 6 grandchildren, Jeani Davenport, Ann (Don) Dismukes, Chip Grisham, Tim Higgins, Tracy (Darrell) Duncan and Ted (Lisa) Higgins. Also surviving are 7 great grandchildren and 1 great great grandchild.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Allen Walker Thomas & Hessie Knox Thomas and her brother, Ellis Thomas.
Funeral services will be 1 pm Saturday in the Chapel of Woodbury Funeral Home with Bro. Herb Alsup and Bro. Tim Knox officiating. Interment will be in Thyatira Cemetery. Visitation with the family will be from 10 am Saturday until time of services.
Woodbury Funeral Home, 615-563-2311 or www.woodburyfuneralhome.net