Patricia Miller, the first woman to serve on the McLennan County Commissioners Court, died Sunday at Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center, according to sources including County Judge Scott Felton.
Miller, 65, reportedly had undergone surgery sometime over the weekend, though sources did not know why she entered the hospital. Felton said he texted with Miller on Friday, “talking about county business,” and there was no indication Miller was ill or had been hospitalized.
“I am numbed and stunned,” said fellow Commissioner Ben Perry. “It appears she had been in surgery, and I don’t know exactly what happened. She and I were very close, and she and I saw many things the same. I used to tease her and tell here she was more conservative than she thought she was, and she told me not to say that. She was a sweetheart to work with. I’m broken-hearted, I’m not going to lie to you. She will be missed greatly.”
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He said Miller “was so spry, active and sweet” that there was no indication “her life was about to come to an end in a brief moment.”
Perry and Felton said Miller protected county employees, championed issues affecting her constituents, such as reducing contamination in drinking water wells, and was attuned to the county’s economic development efforts and attempts to keep the tax rate under control for taxpayers.
Felton said several commissioners had been suffering from colds, coughs and other cold weather maladies, Miller among them. He said during their conversation on Friday, Miller said she was feeling better.
Perry said it was her understanding that Miller’s husband had been sick the past couple of weeks, with what he did not know.
Miller was sworn in as Precinct 2 commissioner on Jan. 1, 2019, and was reelected in 2022. She was the first woman to be elected to the commissioners court and the first Black woman to serve on the court.
She was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Nov. 10, 1958, and moved to Waco with her family at age 10. She had lived in the Waco ever since, attending the former Richfield High School and East Texas State University. She served for several years as office director for longtime Commissioner Lester Gibson.
Felton said commissioners likely will meet Monday to discuss Miller’s passing.