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Garland J. Millet, February 23, 1913 to September 7, 2008

Garland J. Millet, February 23, 1913 to September 7, 2008

On February 23, 1913, Garland J. Millet, was born in Oakland, California. He passed peacefully to his rest at his home in Huntsville, Alabama, on Sunday evening, September 7, 2008.  Dr. Millet was a shining example of a servant leader and stayed on the firing line for Christian education for over 70 years. 

After high school, the first African-American teacher in the Berkeley public school system tried to convince Garland to attend the University of California, Berkeley, but as a believer in Christian education, Mrs. Millet insisted that Garland attend Pacific Union College, a decision for which he has always thanked and praised his mother. At PUC, he began his lifelong friendships with Elder G. Nathaniel Banks, Mrs. Inez Lang Booth, the late Norman McCleod, and the late Dr. Carl Dent.

Garland graduated from Pacific Union College with a B.A. degree in History in 1934, and an M.A. in 1947. From 1934 to 1936, Professor Millet taught English and Mathematics, and served as a men’s dean, at Oakwood Junior College, where one of his students seemed particularly “outstanding” -- Ursula Bernice Berry, from his home church – Market Street SDA -- in Oakland, California. They were married in 1937.

Garland took his new bride to Washington, D.C., where he served as Principal of the Union Academy from 1937 to 1941. In 1942, he returned to Oakwood as librarian and instructor of English. He next taught in the Los Angeles Academy from 1944 to 1949, followed by five years of pastoring in the Southern California Conference, at the Delaware Avenue and Berean SDA churches. He was ordained to the gospel ministry at Lynwood, California in 1952.

In the spring of 1954, Elder Millet was invited to become the fifth President of Oakwood College, succeeding Elder Frank L. Peterson. During his nine-year tenure, student enrollment doubled, the number of faculty grew to 55, the number of faculty with doctoral degrees increased from one to eight, and 13 buildings were constructed including Peterson Hall, the Ashby Auditorium, Anna Knight Education Building, the original market/bakery structure, and several faculty cottages. The annual Faculty Colloquium was introduced, along with the student Honors Convocation and the Three-Way Scholarship Plan. Under his leadership, accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools was granted on December 4, 1958. In 1962, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., visited the campus and addressed the community in 1962.

After leaving Oakwood in 1963, Dr. Millet served as consultant for Brown Engineering, and taught classes at Alabama A&M University. In 1965, he received the Ph.D. degree from Vanderbilt University’s George Peabody College. From 1964 to 1966, he served the triple roles of Assistant to the President of Fisk University, as an Associate Professor at Fisk, and as Pastor of the Riverside Chapel Seventh-day Adventist® Church. From 1967 to 1970, he served as the third African-American editor of the Message Magazine.

At the 1970 General Conference session in Atlantic City, Dr. Millet was elected as the first African-American worker in the Department of Education. He served for eight years as an Associate Director, coordinating overseas higher education evaluations, edited The Journal of Adventist Education, and issued, with supporting committees, (1) A Review of Seventh-day Adventist Nursing Education, (2) “Seventh-day Adventist Concepts of Psychology,” and (3) "Christian Education—Values Needed Now.” He also served on the Oakwood College Board of Trustees for some 20 years. He was presented with the Department of Education’s highest award, the Medallion of Honor, at the 1990 General Conference Session in Indianapolis.

During 1978 to 1982, he served as a Special Assistant to the President of Loma Linda University. One of his tasks was to encourage more black and other non-white employment at Loma Linda University and Medical Center, which together comprised one of the world’s largest Seventh-day Adventist institutions. During his three years of service, the total number of black employees grew and 27 black teachers were invited to teach at the University. Approximately 60 invitations were extended to all other ethnic minorities.

Garland enjoyed traveling – either for business with the General Conference, or for pleasure with his beloved wife Ursula. Two of the highest points in their travels together were a trip to the 1975 General Conference Session in Vienna, Austria, and another trip to the Hawaiian Islands in 1989, which he considered for them a “second honeymoon.”

After his “retirement” to Huntsville in 1982, for a brief term in 1983, Dr. Millet participated at Bethel College in The Transkei, South Africa in a faculty exchange program with Oakwood College. Between 1984 and 1990, he taught occasional classes in Principles of Christian Education and the Gift of Prophecy at Oakwood College, and was awarded the General Conference Department of Education’s Medallion of Distinction in 1990. As a firm supporter of Christian education, he was a charter member, and served as the second president, of the Committee of 100 for Oakwood College.

Dr. Millet lived to see the first African American presidential nominee, and outlasted elevator attendants, streetcar conductors, segregation and the days when a real person used to answer the telephone. He had been married to his beloved “Urs” for 70 years when she passed away on January 13, 2008.

Left to cherish Dr. Millet’s memory are his son Garland F. Millet of Baton Rouge, LA; his daughters Carol (George) Byars of Chattanooga, TN, and Debbe Millet of Huntsville, AL; his sister Ann Roberts of Orinda, CA – and a HOST of friends, former students, golf buddies, and co-workers.

Funeral and Memorial Services

Final arrangements have been entrusted to:
Royal Funeral Home
4315 Oakwood Avenue
Huntsville, AL 35810
Phone: (256) 534-8481
Fax: 256.534.8409
The Memorial Service is scheduled for Sunday, September 21, 2008, at 3:00 p.m. at:
Oakwood University Church of Seventh-day Adventists
5500 Adventist Blvd
Huntsville, AL, 35896

Condolences and Memorial Fund

Condolences may be sent to the family of Dr. Garland J. Millet at:
3455 Purdy Drive, NW
Huntsville, AL 35810-4211

Because of Dr. and Mrs. Millet’s legacy of dedicated service to Oakwood and to the cause of Christian education, the family is requesting that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Garland J. and Ursula B. Millet Endowed Scholarship Fund at Oakwood University. Contributions may either be made online by clicking this link: https://my.oakwood.edu/ics/Giving_to_OU/Advancement_and_Development.jnz?portlet=Online_Giving.

If preferred, they may be mailed to:

Oakwood University
Office of Advancement & Development
7000 Adventist Blvd. NW
Huntsville, AL 35896

North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists
9705 Patuxent Woods Drive
Columbia, MD 21046-1565 USA
Telephone: 443-391-7200
Fax: 443-391-
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