Sophia "Sue" Miller, a retired Evening Sun medical and education reporter recalled for her tenacity, died of Dec. 22 of complications from dementia at the Watts Group Assisted Living in Severn. She was 93 and had lived in Glen Burnie and North Baltimore.
Born Sophia Vrachos, she was the daughter of Soteros Vrachos, who sold fruits and vegetables from a horse-dawn wagon, and Catherine Vrachos, a homemaker.
"By 1920, about 50 Greek families, including mine, had settled in Gloucester, Mass., on Cape Ann, an island connected by a drawbridge to a road that leads about 30 miles north to Boston," she wrote in 1993, a year after she retired. "Gloucester was the perfect choice for these people who, despite prosperity and happy lives in America, remained forever bound to their Greek culture and heritage. ... We learned to spell, to read, to write and to speak in Greek."
Mrs. Miller earned a journalism degree from Boston University and later received a master's degree in liberal arts from the Johns Hopkins University.
While a senior in college, she permanently lost sight in one eye due to a combination of an inflammatory disease, uveitis and acute glaucoma.
"She was quite a force. Because of my mother's nature, when she decided to accomplish something, she was unmovable," said her daughter, Carola Miller Bruflat of Vienna, Va. "She would not let partial blindness stop her."
While a reporter in Portsmouth, N.H., she met her future husband, Carroll Albert Miller, a Baltimorean who was an Army second lieutenant and a Monumental Life Insurance salesman. They moved to Baltimore and lived for many years in Glen Burnie.
She took a part-time job at the Maryland Gazette and Glen Burnie News and later reported for the Annapolis Evening Capitol, where she became interested in science and medicine, as well as in the education and health of special-needs children.
"She ran her competition ragged. She was a crusty local reporter who happened to be female. She was crass and could raise hell over the phone," said Lowell E. Sunderland, recalling a time 50 years ago when he was a college student working for her. "She was a character. She did not tiptoe around anybody's toes. She offended some people, and she was not political."
Of the experience, Mr. Sunderland, who is a retired Baltimore Sun editor, said, "She taught me how to write and how to present stories. She was as sound as anyone I've met in journalism."
She joined The Evening Sun in 1967 and initially covered education and then medicine, including its financing.
"Sue worked hard at covering difficult subjects for The Evening Sun — science, medicine, hospital costs and education," said Ernest F. Imhoff, a retired Baltimore Sun editor. "She did it with only one good eye and a broad vision. She caught details of the entire landscape and wrote accurately and coolly.
"When her fingers lifted off the keyboard, Sue's sharp voice might rise passionately in the newsroom about anything under the sun. She could scrap with editors over story details. Good reporters are like that. She was a force of her own making."
Mrs. Miller won numerous national, state and local awards. She was cited in the Congressional Record for her coverage of the 1979 White House Conference on the Handicapped.
Mrs. Miller also wrote about Dr. Ben Carson at Johns Hopkins Hospital, malpractice attorney Marvin Ellin and former state secretary of health Dr. Neil Solomon. She also covered the spread of HIV infections in the state.
Friends said that Mrs. Miller, when writing about a medical procedure, included its out-of-pocket cost to the patient.
"She felt everybody deserved to know what things cost," said her daughter.
In 1984 she wrote a first-person article, "Out of the Darkness," about undergoing successful cataract surgery and regaining sight in her single functioning eye.
"I can hardly believe what has happened to me," she wrote in The Evening Sun. "It is a whole new world. My apartment, my friends, my family ... Baltimore never looked so beautiful."
Her daughter described her as a "wonderful and loving mother." She enjoyed reading, travel and opera. She also followed politics that empowered women.
Mrs. Miller had been a member of the Glen Burnie United Methodist Church, where she taught Sunday school. She later attended the Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church and Emmanuel Episcopal Church.
Services will be held at 11:30 a.m. Friday at the Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home Inc., 6500 York Road in Rodgers Forge.
In addition to her daughter, she is survived by another daughter, Kathryn Estelle Levy of El Cajon, Calif.; and a grandson. Her husband of 25 years died in 1968.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun