Georgella Miller, a freshman from Inkster, Mich., stepped into a meet and greet in Western Michigan's University Student Center (now known as the Bernhard Center) the night before the first day of the 1963 fall semester.
It was bustling with incoming and returning students, but the crowd didn't stop Georgella from catching the eye of the man she'd share 44 years with before his death in 2011.
The late Ellword “Woody” Miller, a junior football star known campuswide. After a few weeks after Woody and Georgella met, the two began dating.
“He was well known by the full campus and so that made me a celebrity in my dorm,” Georgella said.
The two had similar fields of interest and both prioritized academic success. Georgella majored in elementary education and Woody majored in secondary education. At the time, there were only 500 African American students on Western’s campus.
“We all supported each other and helped each other and tutored each other in various classes,” Georgella explained.
The pair shared many mutual friends through Greek life on campus. Georgella is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and Woody was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. Now, Georgella often hosts get togethers for Deltas from Western and Kappa wives.
“All the people I met while there, I keep in contact with a great many of them,” Georgella said.
One of the keys to their relationship’s success was good communication.
“You need to be honest and truthful and communicate,” she explained. “You have to talk to each other.”
Maintaining a relationship during their time at WMU had its difficulties.
“It takes a lot of effort; it’s not easy,” she said. “It takes a lot so you’ve got to be open to that and sharing, and talking about things and coming up with common decisions. The working together is the important thing.”
Woody graduated in 1965 and moved to Detroit to become a public school teacher. After Georgella graduated, the two wed on July 29, 1967 and Georgella joined Woody in Detroit.
Woody later received a Doctor of Education degree and became a central school administrator before retiring. Georgella received an Education Specialist degree and retired as a local administrator and elementary school principal. The key to their long-term success was the support they provided each other.
“We worked together,” she said. “We were a team when it came to the family and marriage and made decisions together on what to do as a family.”
After 44 years of marriage Woody passed away in 2011.
“It would’ve been longer if he was still here,” she said. “He’d be sitting here with you.”