A new scholarship has been established through the Northwestern State University Foundation to benefit students majoring in elementary education. The Doris Carroll and Thomas Lawrence (T.L.) Miller Scholarship will be awarded to a student with at least a 3.0 grade point average with a demonstrated financial need.
Virginia M. Atwood, Ph.D., of Nicholasville, Kentucky, established the scholarship in memory of her parents, who were longtime residents of Natchitoches and supporters of NSU.
T.L. Miller was a civic leader and businessman, a member of the Pecan Growers Association, board member of People’s Bank and Trust in Natchitoches, a 33rd degree Mason, and Shriner in Natchitoches. He was chairman of the Welfare Board for 22 years and was named the Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year in 1975.
According to his grandson, Michael Adkins, T.L. Miller spent many years on his farm with his cattle and pecan operations, which is now Miller Farm Road subdivision, an area that was used in the filming of the movie “The Horse Soldiers.” He worked with Dr. Arthur Allen, a professor of biological sciences at NSU, to develop the Miller Pecan through a grafting process.
“T.L. and Doris moved their family home the day Pearl Harbor was being bombed,” Adkins said. “They raised three children there while T.L. grew his novelty business – juke boxes, cigarette machines, slot machines – then expanded into commercial and residential real estate. He once told me, ‘With your hands you’ll make someone else wealthy. With your mind, you’ll make yourself wealthy.’”
Doris Miller enjoyed donating her time to First United Methodist Church as church secretary and through work with the Mudder’s Club, a ceramics group that sold wares at the annual Fall Market to raise money for special projects at the church.
“She spent many hours in her yard, which was a showplace for azaleas and dogwoods, many times winning Yard of the Month,” Adkins said.
Both T.L. and Doris gave back to their community, selling raffle tickets for everything, even after their children graduated from Natchitoches High School.
“I believe this caring and giving back to the community and its children was part of the reason that the field of education was chosen by their two daughters and oldest granddaughter,” Adkins said.
Atwood and her sister, the late Linda Miller Adkins, both earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education at NSU and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren are also NSU graduates. Linda Adkins, who passed away in 2017, had a 32-year teaching career in the Natchitoches area.
“An ideal scholarship recipient would have successfully completed a fair amount of college level coursework, show a firm commitment to elementary education and have been admitted to the elementary teacher education program,” said Atwood, who taught in elementary schools for eight years. She holds a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University of Texas and retired from the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Kentucky.
Pictured: Announcing the establishment of the Doris Carroll and Thomas Lawrence (T.L.) Miller Scholarship at NSU are, from left, Melinda Adkins Young, Dr. Virginia Miller Atwood and Michael Adkins.