New London – They could make a Saturday Night Live skit about the perils of being Ann Miller’s personal assistant. Imagine trying to shlep her between social occasions, while knowing delays would be numerous and inevitable. There’s always one more conversation remaining for a woman who either knows everybody. Or everybody knows her.
“Anyone who knows her,” Miller’s daughter Kimberly was saying the other night, “knows she holds on to dates and names like nobody else. ‘Hey, I know your uncle’s cousin’s mother!’ Nobody else can make these crazy connections. It’s wild.”
But then, this is what happens when, in the words of Miller’s friend Sherry Adams, “Ann always did what she was meant to do. They don’t call her the mayor of New London for nothing.”
Ann Miller: a 39-year teacher in the New London public school system. A New London native and New London High grad. A forever Whaler with a magnetic charm that always left her place a better place.
They had a retirement party for Miller last week at Filomena’s in Waterford, hundreds popping in and out to honor and salute the proudest Whaler of them all, who is done with lesson plans and report cards forever. Ah, but this woman who always left you feeling better about yourself isn’t getting away without a few trumpets for her contributions.
Ann Miller is a main artery to our corner of the world’s social construct, a rare soul in this region of hard markers who always elicited a grin when her name arose in conversation. On the topic of Miller, Ann: Nary was heard a discouraging word.
“Ann has this very motherly way with everybody,” says Beth Connors, who belongs with Miller to a six-woman social cartel known as the “Softball Moms” who gather occasionally for, well, wine and other less important things. “She talks to everybody about everything. She remembers every detail. It’s a gift.”
Miller began teaching typing at New London High. She finished with computers at Bennie Dover. She coached her daughters in softball in Waterford. But while Lancer Blue ran deep, Miller’s veins are still pure green and gold.
“Her Whaler pride was not matched,” Kimberly Miller said. “My dad (Glen) is from Waterford. He’s Mr. Waterford. My mom is Mrs. New London. To this day they go back and forth. Listen, I’m a Lancer. But I’m so proud to be associated with New London because of my mom.”
As Connors said, “She’d show up at a Waterford game in green and gold. I’d go, ‘you forgot to change.’ Ann goes, ‘Sorry, I gotta represent.'”
The softball moms just returned from a gathering in Florida. They’re still talking about the car ride from the airport to the hotel which became an impromptu sing-along. Miller chose the song “Rhinestone Cowboy” to the everlasting delight of the group.
“She’s very funny, very witty, always has a zinger,” Adams said. “I always refer everything back to softball with Ann. She coached Alyssa (daughter Alyssa Hancock) and with Denise (Spellman). She genuinely cares. She tells stories about kids now and she realizes that she taught their parents as well. Now even grandparents. Just a great person.”
There is no one story that’s ever going to define Ann Miller. There’s no one thing. It’s a million little things. She was there. Every day. For 39 years. And she did it happily. For her city. For the Whalers. And this — yes, this — is what makes a community. There is no nobler endeavor than to be the region’s leading social conduit.
“Not many people can say they made it 39 years in one school system,” Connors said.
And in New London, too. This would qualify Ann Miller for something between a Congressional Medal of Honor and the Nobel Prize. Except that it was all in a day’s work.
“My mom assimilates with every group,” Kimberly said. “Not everybody can be so comfortable in so many different groups like that.”
Indeed not. Happy retirement, Ann. And on behalf of pretty much everybody else around here … and sorry, Carly Simon … But nobody ever did it better.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro