Mary Jane Phillips Hastings Miller, family matriarch

January 6, 2014

Mary Jane Phillips Hastings Miller of Seaford passed away while sleeping peacefully Friday, Jan. 3, 2014. She had been under the tender care of the nurses and staff of the Harbour Healthcare Rehabilitation Center in Lewes since 2006.

Born in Laurel June 26, 1913, Mary Jane was the eighth child of the late James Kendall Phillips Sr. and Maggie (Spicer) Phillips. She was raised in Seaford and graduated salutatorian of the Seaford High School Class of 1931. Married on Christmas Eve in December, 1933, Mary Jane was active in many community activities, including Eastern Star, the Seaford Volunteer Fire Company Auxiliary and Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church, where she taught Sunday school and was an officer of the Women's Society.

Her husband, William Allan ("Skip") Hastings, was instrumental in the creation and development of Nanticoke Memorial Hospital and during the 1950s Mary Jane became a founding member of the hospital auxiliary, served as a volunteer nurse's aide, and held Red Cross training sessions in the basement of their home on Nylon Boulevard. During the illness and subsequent death of Skip in 1960, Mary Jane managed the family's construction business, Hastings, Eskridge & Co. Inc., until its sale in 1965. She was president of the Nanticoke Hospital Auxiliary from 1961-62.

In 1965, Mary Jane married Eugene James Miller Sr., superintendent of Bath-Richfield (Ohio) Schools. She and her youngest daughter, Carole, joined Jim and his two sons in their home in Hudson, Ohio. Twelve years later, Mary Jane and Jim retired back to Delaware, living first in Rehoboth and later in Seaford, where they became active in the Seaford Historical Society, with Mary Jane serving as president from 1973-74. Upon the sudden death of her second daughter in 1977, Mary Jane and Jim took in and raised her three grandchildren. Mary Jane was devoted to her family and provided them with strength and wisdom through all of life's trials. She was a great collector of memories and a historian, not only for her family, but also for Seaford and Nanticoke hospital. To many of those who knew her best, she will always be "Mommom Miller," the wise matriarch who spent many wonderful hours in her patio swing giving comfort and advice to the constant flow of visiting family and friends.

She was preceded in death by her parents; all of her siblings; her first husband, William Allan Hastings; her second husband, Eugene James Miller Sr.; her daughter, Margaret H. Hastings; her stepson, Eugene James "Dusty" Miller Jr.; her infant son, Dwight; and her dear friend, niece Doris Purnell. She will be sadly missed by her oldest daughter, Sylvia J. Walker of Rehoboth Beach, and her youngest daughter, Carole H. Carpenter of Milford; other survivors are her stepson, Charles William "Sandy" Miller of North Carolina; a nephew and two nieces; she is also survived by seven grandchildren, Dennis Walker (and wife Terry) of Hebron, Md., Diana Irvine (and husband Rich) of Seaford, Glen Walker of Rehoboth Beach, Amy H. Billy of Santa Barbara, Calif., Christopher A. Hastings of Honolulu, Hawaii, Timothy P. Hastings (and wife Gigi) of Seaford, and Chad B. Carpenter of Milford; she leaves behind seven great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren, Jenny Bailey (husband Danny, children Quinn and Evie) of Hebron, Megan Walker of Hebron, Aaron Irvine (wife Stacey) of Greenwood, Trevor and Shannon Irvine of Seaford, and Devin and McKenna Billy of Santa Barbara, Calif. Services will be held at 11 a.m., Thursday, Jan. 9, at Cranston Funeral Home, 300 N. Shipley St., Seaford, where visitation for family and friends will begin at 10 a.m. Interment will follow at Odd Fellows Cemetery in Seaford.


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