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Joan Miller

Joan Miller

Joan Miller was born in 1918. After leaving boarding school at 16 she found work in an tea-shop in Andover. This was followed by the post of an office girl at Elizabeth Arden. Later she was promoted into the Advertising department.

Just before the outbreak of the Second World War Miller joined MI5. At first she worked under Lord Cottenham who headed MI5's transport section. However, it was not long before she was recruited by Maxwell Knight, the head of B5b, a unit that conducted the monitoring of political subversion. Knight explained he wanted her to spy on the Right Club. This secret society was an attempt to unify all the different right-wing groups in Britain. Or in the leader's words of "co-ordinating the work of all the patriotic societies".

In his autobiography, The Nameless War (1955), Archibald Ramsay , the founder of the Right Club, argued: "The main object of the Right Club was to oppose and expose the activities of Organized Jewry, in the light of the evidence which came into my possession in 1938. Our first objective was to clear the Conservative Party of Jewish influence, and the character of our membership and meetings were strictly in keeping with this objective."

By 1940 Miller had become one of the most important figures in the Right Club. Maxwell Knight asked Miller to keep a close watch on Anna Wolkoff who was suspected of being a German spy. Wolkoff ran the Russian Tea Room in South Kensington and this eventually became the main meeting place for members of the Right Club.

In February 1940, Anna Wolkoff met Tyler Kent, a cypher clerk from the American Embassy. He soon became a regular visitor to the Russian Tea Room where he met other members of the Right Club including its leader, Archibald Ramsay. Wolkoff, Kent and Ramsay talked about politics and agreed that they all shared the same views on politics.

Kent was concerned that the American government wanted the United States to join the war against Germany. He said he had evidence of this as he had been making copies of the correspondence between President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Kent invited Wolkoff and Ramsay back to his flat to look at these documents. This included secret assurances that the United States would support France if it was invaded by the German Army. Kent later argued that he had shown these documents to Ramsay in the hope that he would pass this information to American politicians hostile to Roosevelt.

On 13th April 1940 Anna Wolkoff went to Kent's flat and made copies of some of these documents. Joan Miller and Marjorie Amor were later to testify that these documents were then passed on to Duco del Monte, Assistant Naval Attaché at the Italian Embassy. Soon afterwards, MI8, the wireless interception service, picked up messages between Rome and Berlin that indicated that Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of German military intelligence (Abwehr), now had copies of the Roosevelt-Churchill correspondence

Soon afterwards Wolkoff asked Miller if she would use her contacts at the Italian Embassy to pass a coded letter to William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) in Germany. The letter contained information that he could use in his broadcasts on Radio Hamburg. Before passing the letter to her contacts, Miller showed it to Maxwell Knight.

On 18th May, Knight told Guy Liddell about the Right Club spy ring. Liddell immediately had a meeting with Joseph Kennedy, the American Ambassador in London. Kennedy agreed to waive Kent's diplomatic immunity and on 20th May, 1940, the Special Branch raided his flat. Inside they found the copies of 1,929 classified documents including secret correspondence between Franklin D. Kent was also found in possession of what became known as Ramsay's Red Book. This book had details of the supporters of the Right Club and had been given to Kent for safe keeping.

Anna Wolkoff and Tyler Kent were arrested and charged under the Official Secrets Act. The trial took place in secret and on 7th November 1940, Wolkoff was sentenced to ten years. Kent, because he was an American citizen, was treated less harshly and received only seven years. It is said that after being sentenced Wolkoff swore that she would get revenge by killing Miller.

Miller also worked in a special department of the Post office that was set up to read letters being sent by perceived subversives. Miller and another agent, Guy Poston, were given the task of breaking into the home of Rajani Palme Dutt, a leading member of the Communist Party in Britain. Maxwell Knight was interested in a locked box that he kept under his bed. However, when they opened the box they discovered it only contained documents about his wedding.

After the conviction of Anna Wolkoff and Tyler Kent, Miller began living with Maxwell Knight. However, she soon realised she was being used as a cover for Knight's homosexuality. She left Knight and married Tom Kinlock Jones in June, 1943.

Miller now transferred to the Political Intelligence Department (PID). This involved reading and distributing top-secret cables. While in this post she identified a spy who was passing the contents of some of these cables to the Soviet Union. She was later transferred to a unit that controlled the contents of newspapers being distributed in Germany.

Joan Miller died in June 1984. Despite efforts by MI5 Miller's daughter managed to get her mother's autobiography, One Girl's War: Personal Exploits in MI5's Most Secret Station, published in Ireland in 1986.

One morning Bill Younger... came into my cell with a message from Maxwell Knight, the head of B5(b). I was invited to lunch in the staff canteen with this distinguished MI5 officer who, it seemed, had had his eye on me for some time. Naturally, I was intrigued and flattered. I knew Maxwell Knight by sight and reputation; I was aware that he ran B5(b) with no more than three or four case officers and a secretary, that he was known as 'M' or 'Max', that he cultivated some engaging eccentricities such as smoking long hand-made cigarettes from a little tobacconist's shop in Sloane Street. Rather tall and lanky, with a Wellingtonian nose which he referred to as 'my limb', always dressed in stylishly shabby tweeds, he made a conspicuous figure about the place. I was instantly aware of my good fortune and, at the same time, determined not to let it go to my head. I gratefully accepted the luncheon invitation, though.

At twelve-thirty I went into the canteen and saw Maxwell Knight at a table for two in the comer of the room. He got to his feet as I approached; even before he spoke, I was conscious of the charm this smiling man possessed - charm of a rare and formidable order. His voice, which I found hypnotic, confirmed the impression. By the end of that first lunchtime session I was captivated. M. at the time, must have been about twice my age; it's possible, I suppose, that I had been subconsciously on the look-out for a 'father figure' - my own, an amiable, rather weak man who liked to gamble, hadn't exactly come up to scratch as a parent - but there was a great deal more than that to my feeling for M, even at this early stage.

The Right Club, which bore certain similarities to Admiral Sir Barry Domvile's organization, the Link had been founded in 1938 by Captain Archibald Maule Ramsay, Unionist member for Peebles since 1931 Its members - about three hundred altogether, peers and MPs included-professed a belief in the ideal of an Anglo-German fellowship, as well as nurturing vigorous anti-Semitic feelings. Captain Ramsay was a friend of Sir Oswald Mosley. The Ramsays had a house in Onslow Square, but the club usually held its meetings in a flat above a little restaurant in South Kensington. This restaurant was the Russian Tea Rooms.

Early in 1940 M (Maxwell Knight) decided I was ready to go ahead with the task he had set me. I had already met FRS Aims (Marjorie Hackie) one of the other agents involved in the business (a Casey middle-aged lady who will always remind me of Miss Maple), and it was arranged that she should take me along to the tea-shop one evening, presenting me as a friend other son who was serving with the RJR. The restaurant was on the corner of Herringbone Gardens, directly opposite South Kensington tube station. It was owned and run by an émigré White Russian admiral and his wife and daughter. These people, whose name was Wolkoff, had been dispossessed as a consequence of the Bolshevik revolution - Admiral Wolkoff had been the Tsar's naval attaché in London at the time - and understandably took a fervent anti-Communist line Anna, the daughter, in particular, had come to revere the policies of Nazi Germany. From its inception, she had been among the leading activists of the Right Club.

Joan Miller was an attractive young secretary who had joined MI5 from Elizabeth Arden. After a short stay at Transport in Wormwood Scrubs she had transferred to Dolphin Square. The first task that Knight had set her had been to befriend Krishna Menon, the Indian nationalist, but that had not been a success. Her second operation, which involved infiltration of the Right Club, was such a success that it became one of the few of Knight's operations to receive wartime publicity, although outside MI5 Joan Miller always had to be referred to as 'Miss X'.

In the middle of May 1940 Joan Miller's infiltration of the Right Club paid an unexpected dividend. Her original task had been to monitor Ramsay's activities together with another MI5 agent, Mrs Amos, and build up a complete list of the members so MI5 could scoop up the whole group, rather than attack it piecemeal. She was completely accepted and trusted by Miss Wolkoff who at one point hinted that any information Joan Miller could remove from her 'dull filing job at the War Office' would be well received. The implication was that Miss Wolkoff was more than a political agitator.

By now (1940), things were going badly for England. France had fallen; Mussolini had brought Italy into the war; the Luftwaffe had established its supremacy in the air. As a consequence the Right Club was becoming increasingly incautious about expressing its views. With a German invasion expected at any moment, those who had all along supported Germany's claims believed themselves to be in a strong position. The society was engaged in compiling a list of prominent opponents to the Axis cause: if your name got on to this list you could expect to be strung up from a lamppost once the country was in German hands. I was consulted, I remember, over the question of who was to be classed as a fit candidate for lynching. I don't think I made any very sensible suggestion, but they kept pressing me to name the most vociferous anti-Nazis I had come across. They were adamant that an example must be made of these people to give the rest of the country a foretaste of the strong measures it could expect.

After a lot of shifting around at Political Intelligence Department (PID) I finally ended up in a splendid job there - helping to decide the contents of a newspaper planned by us for distribution in Germany once victory had been established. It was meant to appeal to the ordinary reader and wasn't conceived altogether as an instrument of propaganda, although that came into it to a certain extent. It was part of my work to get in to the office very early each morning, and read through the day's papers, placing a large red cross against each news item I considered both interesting for its own sake, and liable to procure a proper impression in the mind of a German reader.

At ten o'clock each morning I joined the editors or deputy editors of all the English daily newspapers who assembled round a conference table in one of the large offices to discuss the question of what should be allowed through, and what should be censored. Each editor had read his own paper and one or two of the others, presumably, but I was the only person present who had studied the lot. They were all extremely courteous to me and listened carefully while I explained my reasons for picking out certain reports, and feeling dubious about others. They all had their own ideas, of course, and these were debated freely around the table. I was never made to feel conscious of being the only woman present, and my opinions were taken seriously; but I was aware of my own limitations among all these important men of the press and I was careful not to stick my neck out. I learnt a great deal, actually, from all this reading of newspapers; it was particularly instructive to observe the different styles and different methods of reporting the same incident. (Some reports, it was plain, were a good deal more accurate than others.) The Manchester Guardian, for example, was straightforward and down to earth, not greatly given to frivolity or gossip.

One Girl's War poses no threat to national security; if other books do and if the Government wishes to take action against them, then that is their business, not ours. The content of One Girl's War has to do solely with events which took place over forty years ago, and we believe that it should be considered for what it is, not for what other books might be.

The Government's attempt to suppress One Girl's War is part of a larger project to keep from the British public any information about the operations of the intelligence services and thus to render impossible any public debate on the matter. In the 1960s and 1970s most countries of the western world gradually liberalised public access to information; in the 1980s Margaret Thatcher's Governments have sought to reverse that trend. There are general ideological reasons for this, and there are particular reasons.

Between 1974 and 1976 a coalition of right-wing Conservative politicians and elements of the armed forces and of the intelligence services worked secretly to subvert the elected Labour Government led by Harold Wilson. It is not suggested that this coalition was responsible for the demise of the Wilson Government and the installing of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister. But the whole notion of such secret activity involving state security services in efforts to undermine the elected Government runs so sharply against the general perception of British democratic tradition that it is hardly surprising if the Thatcher Government is determined to ensure that the full story is never told.


JoAnn Miller

b. 1929, Arp, Texas, USA, d. 7 November 2004, Granbury, Texas, USA. A graduate of Texas Woman’s University in 1949, in the early 50s Miller went to New York to pursue her studies at Columbia College.…
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b. 1929, Arp, Texas, USA, d. 7 November 2004, Granbury, Texas, USA. A graduate of Texas Woman’s University in 1949, in the early 50s Miller went to New York to pursue her studies at Columbia College. By this time, though, she had begun singing in clubs and within a few years, and handled by leading agent Joe Glaser, she had a full performing schedule that included acting in summer stock companies, recording voice-overs for commercials, as well as singing on extended tours of hotels. In the following decade she worked in revues, acted on Broadway, including 1968’s Carnival and productions of Pal Joey and Oh, Captain! In the early 70s, she toured in Never Too Late and in 1974 played with Gisele MacKenzie in a production of Gypsy staged in Fort Worth, Texas. It was then that she decided to settle in her home state, taking up residence in Granbury. For some years she performed annually at the Granbury Opera House, Texas, of which she was a founder. Her association with the Opera House was significant and locally she was thought of as its guiding light for more than 20 years from 1974, being active behind the scenes in promotion and fundraising, as well as casting, producing and directing. During her time there, Miller was responsible for staging up to a dozen different productions each year, including a concert or revue in which she would star. In 1990, she delighted audiences with her production, Jo Ann Miller: Reflections On A Miss-Spent Youth. Following a stroke early in 2001, she moved into a nursing home.


The Luxegen Genealogy and Family History blog presents the family history stories of Joan Miller. View all posts by © Joan Miller - Luxegen Genealogy.

Welcome to Joan Miller's Luxegen Genealogy Blog Genealogy Interests: Genetic Genealogy. Researching KERR in Canada, Ireland and Scotland. IRVINE in Canada and Ireland MILLER in New Brunswick, HENDERSON in Canada and Ireland WILSON in Scotland AUMACK in USA, Canada and Europe MOSS, HARTSELL and PUTERBAUGH in USA. and more!

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Preparations

Most of the $80,000 required to fund the trip came from the sale of 15,000 T-shirts with an attention-grabbing slogan: A WOMAN&rsquoS PLACE IS ON TOP. For some supporters, the shirts reflected an emerging zeitgeist in which it seemed that strong women might rise to the highest places in both the mountains and society for others the implied sexual humor proved irresistible.

BLUM: When I went on expeditions with guys, they often had offices and secretaries. We did the fundraising all by ourselves, with anyone who showed up
and volunteered. We had this house on Indian Rock Road in Berkeley with Christy&rsquos trailer parked in the front yard. It was T-shirt central.

TEWS: I worked part-time in San Francisco plumbing old houses. The rest of the time I sold T-shirts. I went off across the country to these trade shows. We had the shirts that said A WOMAN&rsquoS PLACE IS ON TOP, and then we had shirts that just said ANNAPURNA, because some members of the expedition were embarrassed by the double entendre. People had their own personal reasons for wanting one of those T-shirts. These big men would walk over and look me up and down and say, &ldquoYeah, honey, I want one of those.&rdquo

WHITEHOUSE: I didn&rsquot like to wear the T-shirt at that time. At those fundraising parties, you&rsquod get weird guys who would try to put sexual innuendo on that logo. And I was not comfortable trying to fend them off.

TAYLOR: When I think about the slogan, what comes to mind is this busting out&mdasha latent voice suddenly being shouted from the mountaintops: &ldquoA woman&rsquos place is on top, and we&rsquore going to make it to the top of this mountain!&rdquo

(from left) Mingma Tshering Sherpa, Chewang Rinjing Sherpa, and Irene Miller (Photo: Arlene Blum)

By August 1978, only eight climbers had ever stood atop Annapurna. Nine climbers had perished while climbing. And there were still just three established routes to the summit. In the end, Blum settled on the little-known Dutch Rib on the north face, pioneered scarcely a year before, in October 1977, by 11 Dutch climbers and nine Sherpa staff. Dutch team leader Xander Verrijn-Stuart would later describe the route in the American Alpine Journal as a &ldquosafe&rdquo alternative to other, more hazardous ways up that side of the mountain. Blum and her team would soon find out otherwise.

BLUM: Annapurna was the first 8,000-meter peak climbed. It was one of the lower ones. I didn&rsquot have a clue how dangerous a place it was: it didn&rsquot have enough history. Our reconnaissance was in December 1977, when everything was frozen solid. If I&rsquod realized how bad the avalanches were at other times of the year, I like to think we wouldn&rsquot have gone there.

LHAKPA NORBU SHERPA (21-year-old staff member on the 1977 first ascent of the Dutch Rib, who later joined Blum&rsquos expedition): Those avalanches were obviously very scary, and those risks forced us to climb along a ridge that was also dangerous, since it gets windy.

MICHAEL KENNEDY (former editor in chief of Alpinist, who attempted the Dutch Rib in 2000 with Neil Beidleman, Veikka Gustafsson, and Ed Viesturs): The scale of Annapurna&rsquos north face is something that&rsquos really hard to wrap your head around until you&rsquove actually been there. You have to be a pretty confident ice climber for the Dutch Rib. But really, the daunting thing is just how big the face is. It&rsquos the kind of terrain that if you fell and you were on hard snow, you&rsquod go for a long ride.

Climbing the undulating crest of the Dutch Rib, the team faced soft, unstable snow and huge cornices. (Photo: Arlene Blum)

By the mid-seventies, alpine-style climbing&mdashsmall groups moving fast and light with no supplemental oxygen, high-altitude support staff, or fixed ropes&mdashwas just beginning to spread on 8,000-meter peaks. Blum settled on a more traditional siege approach, which required a team to haul huge quantities of food, fuel, and gear up to a series of camps.

The decision meant that the team faced early conflicts about the practical application of their ideals: What did it mean that they were basing their expedition on tactics that men had imported from the military in the 1920s? For climbers of all genders, the counterculture movement of the seventies stirred resistance to older traditions of swearing ­loyalty to a single authoritarian leader. Aware that team cohesion would be essential, Blum arranged for the group to meet with a psychologist, Karin Carrington. At one session, climber Joan Firey said she didn&rsquot completely trust Blum&rsquos ability to lead. Others said they hoped she would be a &ldquodecisive&rdquo leader, but also one who operated according to an inclusive, consensus-based model.

BLUM: There&rsquos a lot of individualism in climbers. I thought that women would have less, but everybody who wants to climb a mountain like Annapurna has a lot of personal drive.

TEWS: There were stories about men on expeditions who never spoke to each other again in their lives. And that was one thing we truly wanted to avoid.

BLUM: Maintaining our friendships was as important as climbing the mountain.

KARIN CARRINGTON (team psychologist): There was a lot of grappling with, What is an alternative way of leadership that draws on the strengths of women to be more collaborative and at the same time provides the security of a decisive voice&mdashin this case, Arlene&rsquos&mdashto make the calls in extreme circumstances? How does Annapurna become a woman&rsquos place and not just a replica of expeditions that have been all-male in the past?

TAYLOR: Some of us wanted to be totally independent of men and the leadership styles of men. But there wasn&rsquot much documentation we could fall back on. The expedition format was designed by men.

RUSMORE: If the state of climbing had been such that alpine style was the norm in 1978, it would have been a different climb. But Arlene wanted to be sure we were successful. We were already breaking the norms of mountaineering at the time. Maybe not taking on everything was a good idea.

TAYLOR: For some of us, the effort to bring things to the surface and to process as we went was necessary. Others loathed it. Arlene was desperately trying to hold open the door to a democratic, inclusive process.

Maintaining our friendships was as important as climbing the mountain.

Like many leaders of 8,000-meter expeditions, Blum also decided to hire Sherpa staff, believing that their assistance would increase the margin of safety. By doing so, however, she knew that she might incur criticism that her team was relying on help from men. Back then there were very few Sherpa women with high­altitude mountaineering experience. Blum had hoped to employ female low­altitude porters and to train them to climb, but she was disappointed to learn that the sirdar had instead chosen two women&mdashPasang Yangin Sherpa and Ang Dai Sherpa&mdashto be kitchen assistants.

Among the Sherpa men who ended up working for Blum&rsquos Annapurna expedition, some welcomed the presence of Sherpa women. Others felt uneasy about it, concerned that the women might supplant the male staff on the mountain. Eventually, Blum gave up trying to teach the Sherpa women high-altitude climbing skills and sent them home early. Pasang Yangin and Ang Dai left angry over the loss of employment.

BLUM: I liked the idea of having Nepali women as team members and having our Sherpas be women. However, the Sherpa union did not want that at all. There were women hired, but they were really hired to do things like laundry and dishes, not to climb. Now, of course, there are Nepali women&rsquos expeditions. But the idea was probably ahead of its time for Nepal in the mid-seventies.

WHITEHOUSE: The Sherpa women were put in a difficult position, because they were picked out to excel but they didn&rsquot have the background yet, the climbing ability. Arlene wanted them to be different&mdashor to perform differently than they were able to. I think she was generally good about trying to consider Sherpas members of the team, although it&rsquos always different when someone&rsquos getting paid.

LOPSANG TSHERING SHERPA (38-year-old sirdar): I was happy to be offered the job of sirdar, but my happiness had nothing to do with the fact that it was a women&rsquos expedition. It was an opportunity to earn money. I knew that women who came to climb in the Himalayas were trained climbers. There was snow and ice where they came from, too.

CHEWANG RINJING SHERPA (32-year-old high-altitude staff): When I looked at the foreign women, I didn&rsquot feel confident. I told Mike Cheney [Blum&rsquos Kathmandu-based expedition outfitter] that I wasn&rsquot sure they would make it to base camp. He got angry. &ldquoWould they have come all this way if they can&rsquot climb mountains?&rdquo he said. I kept quiet after that.

MINGMA TSHERING SHERPA (24-year-old high-altitude staff): I always thought about the risks of going to a mountain. Whether the expedition would be different or whether the climbers would be able to make it to the summit&mdashI never thought of these things before­hand. They were a group of mountaineers, as simple as that.

Porters on the ten-day trek from Pokhara to base camp (Photo: Arlene Blum)


Joan Miller’s Battle with Cancer

As you all know, my mother (and creator/maintainer of this blog) has passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer.

I’ve attached the full text from her obituary below. If you wish to sign a guestbook for Joan, you can find the newspapers obituary located here: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/calgaryherald/obituary.aspx?n=barbara-miller&pid=162245982&fhid=5928

I will continue to manage and maintain this blog for as long as I can. Thanks to everyone for their kind words and thoughts.

Barbara “Joan” Miller (nee Kerr) passed peacefully on January 4th, 2013, in Calgary surrounded by her family after a courageous journey with stomach cancer. Born March 7, 1953 in Watrous, Saskatchewan. Predeceased by her grandparents William (Bill) Irvine and Isabel (Woodland) Irvine and Homer and Elizabeth (Wilson) Kerr, father Edward John Kerr in 1983. Joan is survived by her mother Elizabeth (Betty) I Kerr (Irvine) of Calgary, by her best friend and loving husband of 37 years, Reg W Miller, son Kevin Miller (Dorlisa Lam) of Calgary, daughter Heather Miller of Calgary, siblings, William (Bill) Kerr (Pam and daughter Yasmine) of Calgary, Ellen (Kerr) McClughan (Neil and son Scott) of Regina, Mother-in-law Yvonne E. Miller (nee Aumack) of Trail, BC, brother-in-law Gordon Miller (Kathy Hudspith and daughters Jessica and Kariann) of Victoria, BC,, brother-in-law Hugh Miller (Gail Gabana and children Andrea, Nicholas, and Joseph) of Trail, BC, as well as numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.

Joan grew up on the PFRA pasture at Hatfield near Nokomis, Saskatchewan. The eldest of 3 children, Joan started school in a one room school in Hatfield and then went on to finish Grade 12 in Nokomis. Childhood activities included Girl Guides, swimming lessons, helping with “round up” and the many visits from cousins. Joan continued her education in postsecondary in Saskatoon obtaining her Diploma in Biological Sciences. Joan briefly worked at SaskTel for a summer position where she met soulmate. She married Reg in the Nokomis United Church on July 5, 1975 and they lived in Calgary where their 2 children, Kevin and Heather were born.

Joan worked at the University of Calgary for 34 years as Technologist and Lab Manager – Medical Research labs, retiring in the fall of 2009. Joan was a genetic genealogist who used DNA technology and social media to complement traditional genealogy research. This included Y-DNA project administrator and coordinator for the Alberta Family Histories Society (AFHS) DNA Special Interest Group. She was a member of the Genealogical Speakers Guild, the International Society of Genetic Genealogists and various other genealogy societies. Joan wrote a regular column for the Alberta Family History Society and served on the Public Relations committee. She also created the Luxegen Genealogy Blog which was named in Family Tree Magazine’s Top 40 Blogs of 2011. She served as an Official Blogger for Rootstech 2011. Joan inherited the genealogy gene from her maternal grandmother Isabel Irvine who was a family historian and great story teller. Her grandfather Bill Irvine kept a diary for 60 years! It was inevitable that one of the grandchildren would be interested in pursuing their genealogy roots and that was Joan. Joan also was very active with volunteering in Toastmaster International where she worked her way through the various levels receiving her Distinguished Toastmaster Designation in January 2012. Joan loved the diversity of cultures and enriched her life through travels to many countries. Joan led an active life filled with activities such as soccer, skiing, qigong and hiking. She will be missed by all whose lives she touched. The family would like to greatly thank the staff at Tom Baker Cancer Centre. They would also like to acknowledge the incredible care and compassion they showed on her passing. Finally they would like to thank Dr. Easaw, Dr. Wiens and Colleen Cathbert for all their care and efforts in this journey. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Kiva – Genealogist for Families project – empower people around the world at http://www.kiva.org/team/ genealogists .


Film trailer – The Women (1939)

The Opposite Sex (1956)

Synopsis

Former radio singer Kay Hilliard (June Allyson) learns from her gossipy friends that her husband is having an affair with chorus girl Crystal Allen (Joan Collins). Devastated, she breaks down and goes to Reno to file for divorce. However, when she hears that gold-digging Crystal is making him unhappy, Kay resolves to get her husband back.

Directed by

Release date

Costume Designer

Studio


Locked-In Man

Invisibilia's Lulu Miller tells the story of Martin Pistorius, whose body began to slowly shut down when he was 12 years old. For years, he was locked in his own body with nothing but his thoughts.

Locked-In Man

Related NPR Stories

So from NPR News, this is INVISIBILIA. I am Lulu Miller.

MILLER: And today, we are discussing thoughts.

SPIEGEL: How to think about your thoughts. What we should think about our thoughts that we think.

MILLER: What do you think about your thoughts these days?

SPIEGEL: I think that the new way of thinking about thoughts is deeply helpful to how I think about thoughts.

MILLER: The new way being that you can just let them all go?

SPIEGEL: The idea that I don't have to take my thoughts seriously, I find deeply liberating and slightly disturbing when I think about all of the many, many hours that I and millions of people all over the country have spent trying to understand our thoughts and where they came from.

MILLER: Like all that's just time wasted?

SPIEGEL: Yeah. How do you feel about it?

MILLER: Well, I'm not sure if it's always time wasted. Like, I wonder if you can get a deeper peace if you really.

MILLER: And to show you a pretty profound example of this.

MILLER: . I want to tell you the story of Martin.

MILLER: So Martin Pistorius, in the late '70s, was a little boy growing up in South Africa. To tell his story, we're going to have to leave the question of thoughts for two or three minutes. But it will circle right on back. OK.

MILLER: But it all begins when he was 3 years old. And he marches into his parents' bedroom and tells them that when he grows up, he wants to be what he calls an electric man.

JOAN PISTORIUS: He used to insist that we buy him all sorts of electronic equipment.

RODNEY PISTORIUS: Resistors and transistors and you name it.

MILLER: These are his parents - Joan and Rodney Pistorius.

JOAN PISTORIUS: And he would build us things.

MILLER: Things like a flashing star for their Christmas tree, an alarm system to keep his little brother out of his Legos.

JOAN PISTORIUS: We had a broken plug. I thought nothing of it. I just said, Martin, please just fix the plug for me. And, I mean, here's live electricity in the house. And I'm asking a child younger than 11 to fix it. And he did.

MILLER: Where do you think he picked this up?

JOAN PISTORIUS: I have no idea. He was always going to be an electric man as he told me when he grew up. And then.

MILLER: Martin's life took an unexpected turn.

RODNEY PISTORIUS: He had just turned 12.

MILLER: He came home one day, saying he was feeling very sick.

JOAN PISTORIUS: And said, ma, I think I'm getting flu.

MILLER: But this wasn't a normal sickness. Martin began to sleep and sleep and sleep.

JOAN PISTORIUS: Like a baby, nearly all day.

MILLER: And when he woke up, he'd refuse food.

JOAN PISTORIUS: Rod used to sit there and force his mouth open. And I used to put the food in.

MILLER: He began getting nosebleeds.

JOAN PISTORIUS: So they tested him for everything under the sun from TB, Parkinson's disease, Wilson's disease, deficiency in copper, measles, and everything was negative.

MILLER: Still he got worse and worse. As the months wore on, everything about him slowly closed down. His ability to move by himself, his ability to make eye contact and finally, his ability to speak.

JOAN PISTORIUS: And the last thing he ever said because he was still in hospital was, when home. And all he wanted to know was when is he coming home? And - sorry.

RODNEY PISTORIUS: He progressively got worse, probably in the second year of his illness. He was sleeping whenever we didn't wake him up. He was permanently lying down in the fetal position.

MILLER: And a test finally came back positive.

RODNEY PISTORIUS: Cryptococcal meningitis.

MILLER: The doctors told Joan and Rodney that Martin was beyond hope.

RODNEY PISTORIUS: As good as not, they - you know, he's a vegetable. He has zero intelligence.

MILLER: They were told to take him home.

RODNEY PISTORIUS: Try and keep him comfortable until he died.

MILLER: But one year passed, and two years passed.

JOAN PISTORIUS: Martin just kept going, just kept going.

MILLER: So Joan, Rodney and their two kids did their best to care for Martin's body.

RODNEY PISTORIUS: I'd get up at 5 o'clock in the morning, get him dressed, load him in the car, take him to the Special Care Center where I'd leave him. Eight hours later, I'd pick him up, bathe him, feed him, put him in bed, set my alarm for two hours so that I'd wake up to turn him so that he didn't get bedsores.

MILLER: All throughout the night?

RODNEY PISTORIUS: Yeah. Every two hours, I'd get up and turn him over and then get a little bit of sleep. And at 5 o'clock the next morning, I'd start the same cycle.

MILLER: That was their lives.

RODNEY PISTORIUS: Load him in the car, drop him off, pick him up.

MILLER: Three years turn to four.

RODNEY PISTORIUS: Bathe him, feed him, put him in bed.

MILLER: Four years turn to five.

RODNEY PISTORIUS: Five o'clock the next morning, I'd start the same cycle.

MILLER: Six years. Seven years.

RODNEY PISTORIUS: Load him in the car, drop him off, pick him up.

RODNEY PISTORIUS: Load him in the car, drop him off, pick him up.

JOAN PISTORIUS: This was so horrific.

MILLER: Joan remembers vividly going up to him one time and saying.

JOAN POSTORIUS: I hope you die. I know that's a horrible thing to say. I just wanted some sort of relief.

RODNEY PISTORIUS: Load him in the car, drop him off, pick him up.

MILLER: Was there any life inside?

RODNEY PISTORIUS: I was not certain.

MILLER: It was impossible to know.

JOAN PISTORIUS: In my mind, I'd decided he'd died.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: Yes, I was there, not from the very beginning, but about two years into my vegetative state, I began to wake up.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: Yes, using the grid to speak.

MILLER: The grid is just a computer keyboard that allows him to quickly choose words and then have the computer read them out loud.

MILLER: Now, I will get to how he regained consciousness and developed the ability to operate a keyboard and the wheelchair that he uses to get around. But what you need to know is that for about eight years, while all the world thought that Martin was gone, he was wide awake.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: I was aware of everything, just like any normal person.

MILLER: He thinks he woke up about four years after he first fell ill, so when he was about 16 years old.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: I suppose a good way to describe it is like an out-of-focus image. At first you have no idea what it is, but slowly it comes into focus until you can see it in crystal clarity.

MILLER: And somewhere in this reawakening to the world, Martin realized, to his horror, that he couldn't move his body. He couldn't even speak.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: I stared at my arm, willing it to move. Every bit of me condenses into this moment.

MILLER: Martin would later write a book about this called "Ghost Boy: My Escape From A Life Locked Inside My Own Body." And this is him reading a passage about one night when he tried as hard as he could to get his father's attention.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: (Reading) I am sitting in my bed. My heart is beating as my father undresses me. I want him to know, to understand that I've returned to him.

MILLER: But nothing in his body would obey.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: My father doesn't recognize me.

MILLER: It went like this again and again - attempt.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: Dad, can't you see?

MILLER: . And failure, attempt and failure.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: Everyone was so used to me not being there that they didn't notice when I began to be present again.

MILLER: Though he could see and understand everything, it didn't matter.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: The stark reality hit me that I was going to spend the rest of my life like that - totally alone.

MILLER: And when he finally accepts this, that he truly is trapped, he said it was like something broke open in his mind. And it unleashed a fury of thoughts.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: I am totally alone. You are pathetic. You are powerless. You will be alone forever - alone forever - alone forever.

MILLER: He said the thoughts literally battered him.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: You are doomed.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: Your family doesn't see you anymore. You will never get out.

MILLER: So here is another man overrun by thoughts.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: You will never get out. You are pathetic, powerless, totally alone.

MILLER: But unlike the rest of us, he can't call a friend to talk about it. He can't go on a run to clear his head. He can't even move his position in his chair. He is trapped in his head. And so what does he do? Well, one day he just intuitively invents the very therapeutic technique that so helped the man in our last story, S. Martin just starts detaching from his thoughts.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: No one will ever show me kindness. You can never get out.

MILLER: He refuses to engage them and lets them all just float by. And he says he got really good at it.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: You don't really think about anything. You simply exist.

MILLER: Can you describe what that feels like? I wonder, is it peaceful, or.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: No, I wouldn't say it is peaceful. It's a very dark place to find yourself because, in a sense, you are allowing yourself to vanish. Days, if not weeks, can go by as I close myself down and become entirely black within - a nothingness that is washed and fed, lifted from wheelchair to bed.

MILLER: Sometimes the nurses were careless with him. They'd pour scalding hot tea down his throat or leave him in cold baths sitting all alone. One of the nurses even began to intentionally abuse him.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: You are powerless.

MILLER: But instead of allowing himself to feel the sting of these thoughts.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: I sit for hours each day staring blankly into space.

MILLER: Though there was one thought he'd allow himself to engage and savor.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: I prayed and wished with all my might to die.

MILLER: So that, my friend, was his experience of letting thoughts go.

(SOUNDBITE OF CLOCK TICKING)

MILLER: Though, occasionally there were these things.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "BARNEY AND FRIENDS")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As Barney) You can always count on having a fun day when you spend it with the people you love.

MILLER: . These things that provided a kind of motivation, like "Barney."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "BARNEY AND FRIENDS")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As Barney, singing) I love you. You love me.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: I cannot even express to you how much I hated Barney.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "BARNEY AND FRIENDS")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As Barney, singing) We're a happy family.

MILLER: See, since all the world thought that Martin was basically a vegetable, they would leave him propped up in front of the TV watching "Barney" reruns hour after hour, episode after episode, day after day.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "BARNEY AND FRIENDS")

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: (Singing) John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.

MILLER: And one day, he decided he'd had enough. He needed to know what time it was because if he could know what time it was, he could know when it would end and, specifically, how much closer he was to his favorite moment in the day.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: Simply to make it to when I was taken out of my wheelchair and that for a brief moment, the aches and pains in my body could subside.

MILLER: Now, the problem was that Martin was rarely seated near a clock. So he calls upon these old allies - these thoughts - to help him carefully study the lengths of the shadows.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: I would watch how the sun moved across the room or how a shadow moved throughout the day.

MILLER: And he begins to match what he sees with little bits of information he's able to collect - what he hears on the television, a radio report, a nurse mentioning the time. It was a puzzle to solve, and he did it. Within a few months, he could read the shadows like a clock.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: Yes, I can still tell the time of day by the shadows.

MILLER: It was his first semblance of control. Simply knowing where he was in the day gave him the sense of being able to climb through it.

MILLER: And this experience ultimately led him to start thinking about his thoughts differently.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: I think your thoughts are integrated - connected and part of you.

MILLER: He realized that they could help him, and so he starts listening to them again.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: I'd have conversations with myself and other people in my head.

MILLER: And if a particularly dark thought came up.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: You are pathetic, powerless.

MILLER: . He'd try to contend with it. Like one time, shortly after having the drool wiped from his chin by a nurse.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: You are pathetic.

MILLER: He happened to notice a song playing on the radio.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: Whitney Houston was singing the "Greatest Love Of All." In the song, she says, no matter what they take from me, they can't take away my dignity.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GREATEST LOVE OF ALL")

WHITNEY HOUSTON: (Singing) They can't take away my dignity.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: I sat there and thought, you want to bet?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GREATEST LOVE OF ALL")

HOUSTON: (Singing) Because the greatest.

MILLER: The point is reengaging with his thoughts transformed his world. Life began to have purpose.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: Oh, absolutely. I would literally live in my imagination, sometimes to such an extent that I became oblivious to my surroundings.

RODNEY PISTORIUS: Load him in the car, drop him off, pick him up.

JOAN PISTORIUS: I hope you die.

MILLER: He was conscious when his mom told him that.

JOAN PISTORIUS: Oh, that's horrific when I think about it now.

MILLER: He was staring right back at her.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: The rest of the world felt so far away when she said those words.

MILLER: But this time, when the dark thought came up.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: No one will ever show me tenderness.

MILLER: . He leaned into it and began to wrestle with it. Why would a mother say that? Why would my mother say that?

MARTIN PISTORIUS: As time passed, I gradually learned to understand my mother's desperation.

MILLER: He realized that it came from profound love for him.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: Every time she looked at me, she could see only a cruel parody of the once-healthy child she had loved so much.

MILLER: Which actually made him feel closer to her. And so onward he went, trying now to understand his dark thoughts instead of just ignoring them all, which brings me to the last act of his story - the way in which Martin is able to climb out. This is a long story involving inexplicable neurological developments, a painstaking battle to prove his existence in the face of doubt and.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: Anyway, the short version.

MILLER: The short version is that over time, Martin slowly regained some control of his body. By the time he was in his mid-20s, he could squeeze your hand on occasion. And he was getting better and better at holding himself upright in his chair. Now, the doctors told his parents that he still had the intelligence level of a 3-month-old baby. But one nurse, one nurse named Verna, was convinced that there was something there. And so she eventually convinced his parents to get Martin reassessed at another medical center, where he was given a test where he had to identify different objects by pointing at them with his eyes. And he passed, not with flying colors, but he passed.

JOAN PISTORIUS: I then gave up my job.

MILLER: That's his mom again, Joan, who came home to care for Martin, help him with his physical therapy and most important, purchase this kind of joystick for the computer.

JOAN PISTORIUS: A proximity switch, which is just something that you knocked.

MILLER: And though it took him about a year to get the hang of it.

JOAN PISTORIUS: We had like school - if you want to call it - four hours in the morning every single day.

MILLER: Once he did, everything changed because suddenly he had a way to select the words he wanted to say.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: I am cold. I am hungry. I want toast.

MILLER: And as words came back, gradually, so did other things.

RODNEY PISTORIUS: He started moving his eyes and moving his head and almost nodding, asking for coffee by stirring his hands around and things like that.

MILLER: They couldn't really explain it, but.

JOAN PISTORIUS: When he gets the tools to communicate, he forges ahead.

MILLER: OK. So wherever you are standing in your life, prepare to be lapped. Within two years of passing that assessment test, Martin gets a job filing papers at a local government office.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: I wanted to prove that I could do more than just speak words via a laptop.

MILLER: Around this time, his nurse savior Verna mentioned she's having trouble with her computer. And Martin, who has not tinkered with electronics since he was 12 years old fixes it.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: Repairing a computer is a bit like going into a maze. You might go down dead ends. But eventually, you find your way through.

JOAN PISTORIUS: It was absolutely flabbergasting. I couldn't understand it.

After that he scraps the government job.

MILLER: . Starts a web design company.

MILLER: . Gets into college.

JOAN PISTORIUS: In computer science.

JOAN PISTORIUS: He's learning to drive. He always wanted to drive.

MILLER: He's learning to drive?

JOAN PISTORIUS: Martin achieves everything he wants to do.

MILLER: So how is it that Martin has been able to achieve all this? Now, I don't want it oversimplify it because it was many things - Martin's naturally strong will, flukes of electricity in the brain, a really dedicated family. But I do think that his decision to lean back into those thoughts way back when, instead of just spending his life detaching, in some way helped him, in part because it probably kept his mind occupied and allowed him to emerge this kind of well-oiled machine of mental ability, but also because I think his leaning into those dark thoughts in particular gave him a kind of self-understanding and humor about the human condition that allowed him to snag the very best thing in his life.

MILLER: This is Martin's wife.

JOANNA PISTORIUS: When Martin talks about me or types about me, he always starts smiling.

MILLER: Joanna was a friend of Martin's sister. And the two of them first met over Skype.

JOANNA PISTORIUS: I was a manager for the social work team for a hospital social work team.

MILLER: Joanna says the thing that drew her to Martin.

JOANNA PISTORIUS: I turned around, and it was just this guy with this big smile. And it's such a warm personality.

MILLER: . Was the way he began to interact with her.

JOANNA PISTORIUS: Unfortunately, I'm one of those people, I say something and then I, more often, need to say sorry I said it.

MILLER: But not with Martin. When she asked him how things work in the bathroom or what people do around you when they think you are not there.

JOANNA PISTORIUS: If I ask him anything, he'll give me an honest answer.

MILLER: And that perked her ears.

JOANNA PISTORIUS: There's no pretend.

MILLER: That first night, they talked for hours.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: She would speak, and I would type my response.

MILLER: The sister and the other friends drifted away, and Joanna just stayed there in front of the screen.

JOANNA PISTORIUS: I just really liked him.

MILLER: After that, she just kept wanting to Skype with him.

JOANNA PISTORIUS: Yeah. OK, well, he's in a wheelchair, and he doesn't speak. But I love this guy. He's amazing. It just so quickly turned into love.

MILLER: As for Martin - after over a decade convinced that he would be alone forever, he was pretty happy.

MARTIN PISTORIUS: My face would hurt from smiling so much.

JOANNA PISTORIUS: (Laughter).

MILLER: They were married in 2009. Martin was 33 years old.

SPIEGEL: One story about this poor man trapped in his own body for 13 years, another about someone who is bombarded by horribly violent images - do you think maybe our first show is a little bit heavy?

MILLER: This was a heavy show. (Laughter).

SPIEGEL: Yeah. Let's hit the dance music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SAN FRANCISCO")

THE MOWGLI'S: (Singing) Well, I've been in love with love.

SPIEGEL: This is INVISIBILA. It's a party, everybody.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE MOWGLI'S SONG, "SAN FRANCISCO")

THE MOWGLI'S: (Singing) Something binding us together, you know that love is strong enough. And I've seen time-told tales about that.

SPIEGEL: INVISIBILIA from NPR News is me, Alix Spiegel.

MILLER: And me, Lulu Miller.

SPIEGEL: The show is edited by Anne Gudenkauf, the best editor in the world, with help from Eric Nuzum, Matt Martinez (ph) Porschia Robertson-Meegas (ph) and Natalie Kaseka (ph). Production help today from Brendan Baker (ph) and Brent Balmon (ph).

MILLER: And now for our moment of nonsense.

I'm not reading it. I was totally not reading it.

SPIEGEL: OK. But I want to take it away.

MILLER: (Laughter) To take it away.

MILLER: I can't do it without you. I wasn't even looking at it.

SPIEGEL: Join us next week for more INVISIBILIA.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

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Valor: One-Man War on Arundel

When former college football star Hugh Barr Miller Jr. joined the destroyer USS Strong in August 1942, he knew he’d see combat. What he didn’t expect was that within a year he’d end up a castaway, fighting a one-man war on a small South Pacific island.

Born in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 1910, Miller grew up on a farm in Hazlehurst, Miss. After high school he enrolled at the University of Alabama and, though of only medium build, became a star on the 1929–30 Crimson Tide squads, helping spur Alabama to victory in the 1931 Rose Bowl. After earning a law degree in 1933, Miller practiced in Mississippi until joining the Navy in 1939.

Following various staff postings ashore, Miller was assigned to the then-building Fletcher-class destroyer Strong. By February 1943 the ship was supporting American operations in the Solomon Islands. Just after midnight on July 5, while bombarding New Georgia in advance of amphibious landings, Strong was struck by a torpedo launched blindly by a Japanese destroyer 11 miles away. Soon after the destroyer USS Chevalier took off most of its crew, Strong broke in half.

Miller had just managed to free two sailors trapped on the main deck when the ship sank beneath him. As he hit the water, several of the doomed destroyer’s depth charges detonated, knocking him unconscious and causing severe internal injuries. When Miller came to, he found himself the senior officer among a group of survivors clinging to a cluster of damaged life rafts and floater nets. Over the next three days the men drifted at the mercy of the currents. Several of the more severely injured died, and Miller sent the fittest men ashore in the damaged rafts to seek help.

No assistance came, however, and on the night of July 8 Miller and the five other remaining survivors pulled themselves ashore on a tiny islet. The speck of land was not the best haven, and after the July 10 death of one man, Miller and the four others floated their way to nearby Arundel Island. On that larger island they found water and coconuts, but they soon discovered that Japanese troops had occupied the island. The July 13 death of another sailor and Miller’s own worsening condition convinced him that the only hope of survival for the three remaining enlisted men was to leave him behind. He ordered them to do so, and on July 15 they set out across a nearby sound in an attempt to reach U.S. forces on New Georgia.

To his surprise, Miller didn’t die of his injuries. In fact, his health improved enough for him to begin searching for food. But he also found the enemy: Japanese patrols crisscrossed the island, nearly stumbling upon him on several occasions. On the morning of August 3 Miller found the body of a Japanese soldier and from it recovered socks, shoes, some tinned beef, a bayonet and two hand grenades. The following night he hurled one grenade into the midst of an enemy patrol, killing all five men.

Between August 9 and 14, using additional grenades taken from the dead soldiers and from the bodies of enemy troops washed ashore, Miller attacked several shoreline machine-gun positions, killing their crews. His depredations didn’t go unnoticed, however Japanese troops continued to comb the island in search of him.

On the morning of August 16 a low-flying U.S. torpedo bomber spotted Miller. Within an hour a Marine Corps rescue team arrived in a J2F Duck amphibious biplane, landed on a nearby stretch of calm water and rowed ashore in an inflatable boat to collect the injured but resourceful castaway. They rushed Miller to a forward aid station on New Georgia, and he was ultimately evacuated to the fleet hospital at Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides.

On Sept. 15, 1943, with Red Cross volunteer and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt looking on (see photo at left), South Pacific Area commander Admiral William F. Halsey Jr. awarded the still-recuperating Miller the Navy Cross in recognition of his heroic actions during the sinking of Strong and his subsequent 43-day, one-man war against the entrenched Japanese forces on Arundel.

Originally published in the January 2011 issue of Military History. To subscribe, click here.


Joan Miller Martin Jones Mathews, RN ’62, BSN, MSN, EdD

1998 Distinguished Nursing Alumnus of North Carolina Central University In Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Practice, Education, And Research

I, Joan Delores Miller, was born on April 24, 1937, in Traphill, North Carolina, in Wilkes County, the third child and second daughter of Pearl Campbell and Thomas Calvin Miller. I lived with my maternal grandparents and extended family on a sixty-acre farm. My mother worked for a family in Elkin and my father was a hotel cook. They came home on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons, respectively, and went back to work early Monday morning. I would be excited on Saturdays when we would go to Elkin to ship, visit our parents, and go to the movies. Sundays were spent at church and visiting relatives and friends. Social activities included games, dancing, debates, picnics, and holiday parties.

Education was emphasized in my family, as several family members were teachers and ministers. I began my education in a one-room school in Traphill. Because eight grades were taught in this room, I listened to the lessons for all the students and was able to pass two grades in one year. This school closed, and from fifth grade until my graduation in 1954, I attended Lincoln Heights High School in Wilkesboro. As class valedictorian, I gave my first major public speech from memory no notes could be used.

During my freshman year at North Carolina College at Durham (now North Carolina Central University), I became interested in nursing and decided to transfer to Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing. My goal was to work as a federal government (AID) nurse in underdeveloped countries. In my junior year at Lincoln I withdrew because married students were not permitted to attend. In 1958, I received a diploma from the Durham School of Practical Nursing and ranked first in academic achievement in my class. I was employed on the Obstetric Unit at Lincoln Hospital. Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing began admitting married students and I re-enrolled and graduated in 1962. During the graduation ceremonies, I received two awards: the Excellence in Leadership Award and the Most Technically Competent Award. I received a commendation from the North Carolina State Board of Nursing for being one of two applicants to have the highest score (714 of 800) in obstetrics on the RN licensure examination in 1962. I was working on the Medicine and Surgery Unit at Lincoln Hospital when Mrs. L.Z. Williams, Director of the School of Nursing, smiled and said, “Good Morning, Mrs. Martin, RN,” and I realized that I had passed the State Board of Nursing Examination (the school received the scores before the graduates did). I was elated I was a registered nurse! Thus, my career as a nurse truly began.

As the requirements for various career paths in professional nursing changed, I made changes as well. I continued my education as I changed positions in nursing. I obtained a bachelor of science degree in nursing in 1965 from North Carolina Central University a master of science degree in nursing in 1971 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a doctorate of education in curriculum and teaching in 1997 from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I retired in 1999 from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro as Clinical Associate Professor in Nursing, returned in 2000 as Adjunct Assistant Professor in Nursing, and was reappointed to serve in this capacity until 2011.

My experiences in nursing include visiting assistant professor in nursing, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 1984-1997 assistant professor in nursing, North Carolina Central University, Durham, N.C., 1970-1984 instructor of medical-surgical nursing, Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing, Durham N.C., 1966-1968 public health nurse I, Durham County Health Department, Durham, N.C., 1965-1966 and the summers of 1969, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1979 staff nurse, medical-surgical and gynecological nursing at Duke Hospital, Durham, N.C., part-time, 1980-1983, and Watts Hospital, Durham, N.C., May 1973-August 1973 staff nurse, medical-surgeon, gynecological nurse, and emergency nursing at Lincoln Hospital, Durham, N.C., 1960-1965, 1968-1970 and private duty nurse, part-time, Duke Hospital, Durham, N.C., 1976-1977.

During my career I have enjoyed working with students in classes and in various organizations, especially the nursing sorority. I am one of the beta sponsors for the Sigma Chi Alpha Beta chapter of the Chi Eta Phi Sorority at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and have held this position since its chartering on February 27, 1999. I was also beta sponsor when Phi Beta chapter was chartered in 1971 at North Carolina Central University and served in that position until I moved to Greensboro in 1984. I have maintained mentoring relationships with many of my current and former students. Many send me announcements of their promotions, educational pursuits and successes, and personal and family achievements.

Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing emphasized participation in civic, professional, and community organizations. Lincoln Hospital was closely associated with and received support from the community. I embraced this behavior as demonstrated by my role in professional and community-service organizations. Among these organizations are the following: NCA&T State University School of Nursing Advisory Committee, North Carolina Association of County Boards of Social Services (vice president, 2010-2012) Guilford County Board of Social Services (vice chair, 2006-2007) by Guilford County Commissioners for two terms (1/4/01-6/30/07) American Nurses Association Gamma Zeta Chapter, Sigma Theta Tau National Nursing Honor Society Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing Alumni Association (president, 1964, Ms. Lincoln Alumni 1976). Chi Eta Phi Nursing Sorority and life member of the NAACP. I have held positions in these organizations, such as president and committee chairperson. I have published articles in several journals and have completed a master’s thesis and a doctoral dissertation. My public speaking has occurred in settings such as graduation ceremonies, civic and religious programs, and workshops.

Other awards and recognitions include educational scholarships, academic achievement awards, leadership awards, induction into Colden Chain and Santa Filomena honor societies, citizenship awards, a Nurse of the Year for District 11 award from the North Carolina Nurses Association, and being nominated in 1991 for the M.L. King Service Award and Excellence as an organization advisor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In 2009, I received Soror of the Year award from the South East Region, Chi Eta Phi Sorority for my contributions and leadership in nursing and the community. Since 1994 I have sponsored the Woodrow Jones Nursing Scholarship at North Carolina Central University.

I am describing the makeup of my family because I taught nursing using these different names. Students I taught at Lincoln knew me as Mrs. Martin, at North Carolina Central University as Mrs. Martin and later as Mrs. Jones, and at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro as Mrs. Jones, Dr. Jones, and Dr. Mathews. In 1956, I married Joseph H. Martin and had a Lincoln baby, Joseph H. Martin Jr. My son followed me into the health profession and is currently a physician in Atlanta, Georgia. Joseph graduated with honors from Howard University (Phi Beta Kappa) and received his medical degree from Duke University. Following my divorce from his father in 1980, I married Rev. Woodrow Jones Sr. in 1983 and moved to Greensboro, N.C. Reverend Jones died in 1994 following a two-year battle with cancer of the brain. In 1999, I married Louis H. Mathews, who is a retiree from the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Post Office. One of my nursing mentees, Lt. Colonel Elmontenal C. Allens, MS, RN, has adopted Louis and me as his parents.

As I stated at the beginning of my description of my nursing career, it really and truly began at Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing. Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing made it possible for me to have an interesting profession in nursing. I was able to be a leader in nursing and other organizations because of my excellent mentors and the support from colleagues and family to fulfill the predictions of the awards and recognitions received.


‘The Feminist Memoir Project: Voices from Women's Liberation’ edited by Ann Snitow and Rachel Blau DuPlessis

Edited by Ann Snitow and Rachel Blau DuPlessis, The Feminist Memoir Project: Voices from Women's Liberation features the writing of 32 feminist activists, including women like Kate Millett, Vivian Gornick, Jo Freeman, Barbara Smith, and others, who were at the forefront of the feminist movement that grew out of the 1960s. Answering questions like: what made these particular women rebel, what circumstances in the lives shaped their rebellion, how did they maintain the will to keep fighting, and what it was like to be integral to a movement that helped transform life for women in the United States, these essays are empowering and funny, critical and heartbreaking, and will make you think deeply about the long journey of American feminism.


Watch the video: In loving memory of Joan Miller (January 2022).