Thelma M. Miles, a counselor for human service organizations, who often went beyond the call of duty to help individuals and families recover and rebuild their lives, died Tuesday (Aug. 25, 1998) in Sisters Hospital after a brief illness. She was 52.
Since 1994 Mrs. Miles served as a substance abuse counselor at a women's halfway house operated by Women for Human Rights and Dignity. Constance Eve, one of the founders of that organization, said Ms. Miles did much more than her title implied.
"She just went beyond the call of duty. Thelma didn't know what a job description was," Mrs. Eve said.
She said Mrs. Miles not only counseled women who were fighting drug addiction but began parenting classes at the halfway house. She was also involved in helping to organize and staff special activities for the women and for six months served as interim director of "Moving On," a program that aided homeless women.
"She was part of our mission. She shared our vision from within," Mrs. Eve said, adding that some of the women who were helped by Mrs. Miles are scheduled to speak at her funeral.
Born in Buffalo, the former Miss Gary, attended Schools 6 and 87. She attended Bennett High School and went on to graduate from Bryant & Stratton Business Institute. She continued her education at Erie Community College and Empire State College at the University at Buffalo, where she earned credits that qualified her as a rehabilitation counselor.
Mrs. Miles was a secretary for Child and Family Services from 1969 to 1983. At Sisters Hospital, she was a substance abuse counselor in the Pathway program for seven years. She had worked at the halfway house since 1994. She received awards for outstanding service at her places of employment and had been named Mother of The Year by Women for Human Rights and Dignity.
Also active in Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Mrs. Miles taught Sunday school, performed in the choir and was a member of the Junior Trustee Board.
Surviving are a daughter, Melinda Miles; a son, Clarence; her father, John A. Gary; and a grandson.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday in Bethel AME Church, 1525 Michigan Ave. Burial will be in Forest Lawn.