LIMA — When the Miller family decided to dedicate 90 children’s books to the Lima Public Library, they made sure that each book included the “Mrs.” on each book plate that reads “In Memory of Mrs. Gloria Miller-Byerly.” Because if they didn’t, they weren’t sure that the hundreds of kids-now-adults she once taught would recognize the name without the honorific.
“She was a spunky little gal,” Sherry Miller said.
Friday, the family honored Mrs. Miller-Byerly with a memorial of 90 children’s books hand-picked by the family with the help of the experiences and memories they have of the former Shawnee educator that recently died at 92.
“When I came up here and saw all these books, I thought ‘yeah, Gloria would dig this,’” Sherry said. Sherry is the wife of Miller-Byerly’s son Mark.
“It’s a big deal for us,” Children’s Librarian Arin Burton said. “We get to honor an educator, and we get to give new books to the kids in the city.”
In a way, Miller-Byerly gets to pass on her ideals through the books, Sherry said. The family were careful in what books were chosen for the memorial gift. They chose books like “Lucky Louie,” which features an Australian Shepherd dog, because of the family’s affinity for the breed, or books to help kids who suffer from anxiety due to Sherry’s job in the schools. Sherry said the only reason she works as a speech pathologist with young children today is because of Miller-Byerly’s role as a career cheerleader, which influenced her to pursue a job in education.
Even the act of giving itself was something Miller-Byerly would have done.
“She believed in returning kindness,” Former coworker John Bos said. He had worked with her in the ’80s when Miller-Byerly spent her time as principal at Elmwood and Maplewood. “If you were kind to her, she’d pass it on to five other people.”
Former music teacher Cheryl Quay also worked under Miller-Byerly’s administration, and she said she remembered her strengths in getting to know children holistically and working to address any problems they may have had outside of school as well as the problems they had inside.
Sherry said the book memorial was a good way to honor Miller-Byerly instead of the standard flowers that individuals may give to grieving families, and she’d like to see more families get behind the idea — as a way to spread someone’s influence beyond their death.
“Any time we can give new books to kids, that’s awesome,” Burton said.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.