A lifetime of helping others

Former Compassionate Hands director Judith Miller celebrates 80th birthday

Brian DeLong, 4; Juvia DeLong, 7; Nova Delong, 8; and Obbry DeLong, 9, celebrate their great-grandmother Judith Miller's 80th birthday on Sunday, Aug. 20 in Yukon. (Photo By Robert Medley)

By Robert Medley
Senior Staff Writer

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Retired Canadian County District Judge Gary Miller understood his wife’s need to help others in need. She always worried about people who had little or were in crisis, he said.

He supported her when she became involved in nonprofit work, and when she was a past director of Compassionate Hands, a Yukon nonprofit. The rule, Gary Miller thought, at the time, was to help others, but not to bring them home.

That changed one day when an 18-year-old man who had been living on the railroad tracks, lived with the couple for two months while finishing high school and going into the Navy.

Judith “Judy” Miller celebrated her 80th birthday Sunday, Aug. 20 surrounded by family, friends and cake.

“I’m having a wonderful time. It’s a great day with great people,” Judith said.

There was a bounce house in the backyard, and her husband Gary Miller told stories about how she helped people.  

She worked as a paralegal secretary for Miller before he served as a judge. She had worked for Annie E. Casey Foundation, a nationwide nonprofit that helps youth with educational, economic, social and health needs.

“She gets pretty emotional pretty easily,” Gary Miller said.

She would review cases, and it didn’t take long for her to start crying reading a report, he said.

Pastors took bets on how long it would take her before the tears fell when she was handed a report to read, Gary Miller recalls.


A homeless teenager who wanted to go into the Navy was one case that came home with her. She talked Gary Miller into picking him up and all of his belongings, saying she was making an exception to the rule about not bringing work home.

“She worried about people a lot,” Gary Miller said. “There were women Judith would employ, then visit every day, and make sure she was okay.”

He recalled when she got a speeding ticket in her Sooner red Corvette.

“I had left the bench and I was at DHS at the time and Ed Cunningham was our district judge. He was having surgery and was retiring, and Gov. Henry had already announced he was going to appoint me, but I hadn’t been sworn in.

“She (Judith) goes over to see this lady, and my phone rings at DHS. It’s a deputy. ‘Judge?’ I said, ‘Not yet, I’ve still not been sworn in.’ And he said, ‘I know you are still not a judge. But do you own a red Corvette?’ I said, ‘Yeah. Why?’ He said, ‘Is your wife named Judith?’ I said, ‘Yes, why?’”

The deputy proceeded to explain that Judith had been clocked going 95 mph on Interstate 40. The deputy offered to take care of it, but Miller said he didn’t want any special favors.

“I said, she can get in her Red Corvette and take care of it herself,” Gary Miller said, as the couple laughed at the story.

Great grandchildren, grandchildren and children arrived for her birthday party.

Gary Miller said Compassionate Hands continues to help people who are in crisis, who might have a disaster such as a house burning down. They help people with utility bills and other needs.

“Compassionate Hands helps people pay the electric bill. It helps people buy groceries when people are in trouble,” Miller said. “It’s a great organization. It’s what they do, they help people.”

Judith was all smiles at her 80th birthday. There was a bounce house set up, and a cake for her. Great grandchildren at her party included Brian, 4, Juvia, 7, Nova, 8, Obbry DeLong, 9.

“I’m really happy that I get to spend time with her,” Obbry said at the party.