Funeral services for McLennan County Commissioner Patricia Miller, 65, have been scheduled for 11 a.m. Feb. 10, at the Base, the county’s multipurpose facility at the Extraco Events Center.
Miller, who had served on the McLennan County Commissioners Court since 2019, died Sunday at Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center, where she had undergone surgery.
Justice of the Peace Dianne Hensley confirmed Thursday she ordered an autopsy following Miller’s death, having been summoned to the hospital Sunday afternoon by the chaplain service. Hensley said she was advised that questions had arisen about the cause of death, “and out of respect for the family, I ordered an autopsy to find out for sure.”
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Hensley said American Forensics in Mesquite is performing the autopsy, the results of which she did not know late Thursday afternoon.
Baylor Scott & White Health released a statement Thursday, saying, “We join with our community in mourning the loss of County Commissioner Patricia Chisolm-Miller and expressing our gratefulness for her years of service as a trailblazer and advocate for the people of McLennan County.
“We extend our sincere and heartfelt condolences to her family and loved ones. Out of respect for patient privacy laws, we are unable to provide any information.”
Justice of the Peace David Pareya, a colleague of Hensley’s, said in general, a JP would get involved in a death at a hospital if an intake doctor felt he or she did not have enough information to sign a death certificate. He said justices of the peace may order autopsies, toxicology screenings “or the mere drawing of blood” to determine cause and manner of death. He said results are important not only to friends and family but also to the institution providing treatment.
McLennan County Judge Scott Felton said Miller’s family and staff are planning funeral services. He and Commissioner Ben Perry will speak, and the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office will provide an honor guard.
Felton said he and other county officials are focused on honoring Miller this week, and he has given little thought to naming someone to fill the seat until a general election in November. Miller’s term would have expired in 2026.
“If a vacancy occurs in the office of county commissioner, the county judge shall appoint a suitable resident of the precinct in which the vacancy exists to fill the vacancy until the next general election,” says Chapter 87 of the Local Government Code, which addresses filling vacancies.
A subsection applying only to a county with a population of more than 300,000 requires appointments within 60 days of a vacancy occurring. That stipulation would not apply to McLennan County.
Visitation for Miller is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 9 at McDowell Funeral Home, 1725 Gholson Road, and from 5 to 8 p.m. that day at Toliver Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, 1402 Elm Ave.