Southampton resident Mel Dunkerley always loved eating the food prepared by his good friend Ida Miller.He said she was a great cook—and a rarity, because she could cook and bake, which not everyone can do well.
“But she would never tell you a recipe,” he joked. “So, eventually, I stopped asking.”
Last week, on August 12, Ms. Miller, a longtime village resident, died of injuries suffered from a fall. She was 103.
Ms. Miller was born Ida Dempsey on July 31, 1910, in Nova Scotia, Canada. She came to the United States with her aunt in the 1920s, moving to Boston and working for a stockbroker. In the 1930s, she once again relocated, this time to Flushing, Queens. Shortly after, she met her husband, Irving Miller.
In the late 1930s, Mr. Miller, who worked for the telephone company, was transferred to its Southampton office, and the pair moved to the village, where they had a house built in the Southampton Shores complex on Wooley’s Drive.
Through the 1940s and 1950s, Mrs. Miller worked as a dietitian at Southampton Hospital. Then, in 1965, she went to work for Dunkerley’s in Southampton as a bookkeeper, a position she kept until the mid 1990s, when she retired.
“She was a great friend,” Mr. Dunkerley said.
This week, Mr. Dunkerley, who helped take care of Mrs. Miller in her old age, said he will most remember her independent spirit and her ability to rake leaves. He explained that Mrs. Miller loved to rake leaves and that he had never seen anyone rake them up faster. Back when Ms. Miller was younger, it was legal to burn leaves, and she loved to make a huge pile and set a match to them.
“That was one of the things that she really loved to do,” he said. “Nobody that I know could keep up with her raking skills.”
Mr. Dunkerley also said that he was always amazed by her ability to heal. He noted that one time, she fell and shattered her shoulder into five pieces, and for weeks it looked as if it would never get better. Then one day, the healing process started and her shoulder never bothered her again. He shared a similar story about her hip, and laughed that even when she was 103, her doctor would always say, “‘Not only are you my oldest patient, but my healthiest.’”
“She was a very strong, healthy person,” he said. “She was very fortunate to have lived as long as she did and was always very healthy.”
Mrs. Miller was predeceased by her husband. The couple did not have any children. A wake was held at the Brockett Funeral Home in Southampton last week, and she was buried in the Sayville Union Cemetery in Sayville.
“She was a very happy, very friendly, and generous person,” Mr. Dunkerley said. “I think that everybody is going to miss her.”