A Memorial Service for Lavenia Ray Miles will be held Saturday March 22, 2014 2:30 PM at Emmanuel Baptist Church 4211 Old Hwy 12 Starkville MS.
Lavenia Miles, the daughter of Lonnie Mac and Atlie Ray, was born on February 25, 1923. She attended Self Creek School until the age of 12 when she graduated from the 8th grade. She then attended Starkville High School and graduated in 1939 at the age of 16. Her next stop for education was MSCW where she majored in Home Economics earning her BS at the age of 19.
After graduating from the "W" she began her working career at the shell loading plant in Prairie, MS as a chemical analyst. Lavenia met and fell in love with a dashing young man named Wallace Miles who was, at the time, attending radio school at MS State College. The two were married at Camp Pickett, VA after Wallace joined the United States Army Air Corps. Lavenia went on to become the first female civilian ambulance driver at Camp Pickett. She was awarded the position due to her ability to "double clutch" (a skill her father, Lonnie Ray, had taught her). Lavenia and Wallace returned home to Starkville after his tour in the Philippines.
Lavenia taught General Science at Starkville High School in 1956 and 1957. Though her term at SHS was short, she is still to this day revered by many as "the best teacher I ever had." Lavenia entered into a career working for the USDA at the Boll Weevil Lab on the campus of MS State University. She continued her education while working and rearing seven children and eventually earned her Master’s degree at MSU in Entomology at the age of 52. She authored multiple publications on 'Boll Weevil Eradication' and also produced a patent. Her work carried her to the Mississippi Delta where she aided in research toward containing and eliminating the sugarcane borer, along with several other crop invading pests at the Stoneville, MS USDA Lab. Her last stop on her USDA tour of duty was the Fire Ant Research Laboratory in Gulfport, MS. After several years of research there, she retired from the federal government.
Not one to sit idly by, Lavenia went on to obtain her license in real estate and worked as an agent on the Gulf Coast for several years. She also returned to the public school system and taught elementary school before returning to Starkville in 1996 to finally retire at the age of 73. Upon her return to Starkville in, she resumed painting which yielded countless paintings that the family will treasure.
Her accomplishments were many and her talents overflowed; however, she will best be remembered for her exceptional ability to find the best in everyone. Even though she was a woman of high moral fiber, she was fair, nonjudgmental, and accepting of others. She touched many lives, and those who have experienced her kindness are honored to call her "Sisi." She had a hand in raising so many more children than her own seven. It was seldom that family members were the only ones present at the supper table.
Her last years in Starkville were spent surrounded by family, friends and loving care givers: Eddie Pearl Gibbs, Virginia Boyd, JoAnne Howard, Mary Purnell, and Betty Skinner. There are not enough words to express our gratitude to these wonderful, caring, and loving ladies!
She leaves behind seven children who loved her dearly: Wally Miles Starkville, MS, John Ray Miles Starkville, MS, Rita (David) McReynolds Starkville, MS, Esther (Chuck) Berman Woodinville, WA, Dicye (Billy) Murphy Cedar Bluff, MS, Kim Miles (Harley) Burke Watsonville, CA and Lonnice (Rex) Fields Starkville, MS. Eighteen Grandchildren: Denise Miles, Molly Jennings, Michael Miles, Joe Miles, Wade Miles, Lauren Miles, Connie McReynolds, Davey McReynolds, Dustin Berman, Chelsea Berman, Melanie Jennings, Caleb Murphy, MaryEsther Elam, Mark Murphy, Craig Burke, Jennifer Burke, Chris Burke, Dalton Fields. Nine great-grandchildren : Austin Miles, Brittany Miles, Jennifer Miles, Emily Jennings, Lucy Jennings, Laura Jennings, Mackenzie Murphy, Cole Elam, Logan Murphy. A loving brother: Eugene “L.E.” Ray Bay St. Louis, MS and loving sister Rita Joyce (Larry) Futral Starkville, MS. Numerous nieces and nephews. Special “adopted” daughters: Renea Bowles, Cynthia Crosswhite, Patsy McLemore. A very special friend Ben Smith.
She is preceded in death by her husband of 53 years, Wallace Miles, her parents Lonnie and Atlie Ray, sister Agnes Lambert and daughter-in-law Brenda Wade Miles.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Adaton Methodist Church cemetery fund, Adaton Baptist Church building fund, Elizabeth Chapter 73 OES.