Mary Bernadine Lahey Miller died peacefully at her home in Houston, Texas on December 13, 2018. Bernadine was born on May 11, 1920 in Ft Worth, Texas to Mary Margaret Kane and Michael James Lahey, both of Irish descent. She is preceded in death by her parents, her loving husband of fifty years, James S. Miller, and her three older brothers: M. Eugene Lahey, William Francis Lahey, and Michael R. Lahey. She loved her brothers and their children and is survived by 10 nieces and nephews and their families.
Bernadine was a tomboy from the start, always trying to keep up with her brothers. She was born in the year women got the right to vote, a fact that she was very proud of. Mike, her brother who was 8 years older, taught her to read, ride a bicycle, dance, type, and drive—she had no time for dolls. She attended a high ranking Texas catholic girls’ school, Our Lady of Victory Academy, for grades first through twelve. Fifty years after her graduation, she returned to be selected “the most successful alumna.” After high school, Bernadine attended the University of Arlington for two years, then transferred and graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 1942 with a degree in business administration.
Amidst war times, Bernadine moved to Houston, Texas to begin her professional life—a successful career characterized by her tenacity, flexibility, and willingness to learn new things. She started her career at Vinson and Elkins LLP, a large international law firm before joining Texas Gulf Producing Company as the assistant to the CEO, Lawrence S. Reed. She was an integral part of the group, and indispensable help to Mr. Reed, as the small exploration company grew into the largest independent oil corporation on the New York Stock Exchange when it was sold in 1964. For the rest of her professional life, she remained in concert with Mr. Reed, a run of 57 years. Along the way, Bernadine continued to hone her formidable expertise in accounting and taxation, completing an additional two years of advanced courses at the University of Houston and, in 1970, was in the vanguard with a personal computer on her desktop. Her love of accounting and tax work kept her actively working on her computer until her death at age 98.
In her personal life, Bernadine was active in Siena, a professional women’s organization at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, for over 65 years. Siena is named for the Italian Saint Catherine of Siena, who was venerated for her independence. The organization established a scholarship endowment at St. Thomas and has a dormitory now named for it. Bernadine was also a longtime member of the business sorority, Delta Rho Delta, Omega Chapter. A devoted Catholic, she served on the advisory committee of Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Houston for 15 years. She was a docent at Rienzi for many years and donated her time to AARP preparing tax returns at the Houston Public Library.
Her family and friends were her greatest joy, and she was always the first to suggest an outing and a visit. Year after year, she organized family reunions to pass on the Lahey history to younger generations. She was also an impressive bridge player—many times, her teachings to her loved ones were delivered during a lesson or game—even though she was fiercely competitive!
Always looking ahead to the future, as Bernadine reflected on her life at 98, she marveled at the changes she had seen toward attitudes of women in the workforce. She said, “attitudes have all changed in two generations so I know there is hope for changing the minds of women in other cultures who bow to their lot of complete dependence—it can be done. I sincerely believe that getting women to think for themselves will move the world toward peace.”
A remarkable woman of faith, family, and friends, she will be missed.
In remembrance of Bernadine, contributions to the Bernadine Miller Scholarship at the University of St. Thomas are welcome. Please contact the development office at the University of St. Thomas for further assistance (firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-525-3100).