In memoriam: Missionary emeritus David Lee Miller, 90

David Lee Miller, 1928-2021
IMB Photo

David Lee Miller, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel in Brazil, died Aug. 30, 2021. He was 90.

Miller was born Oct. 29, 1928, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, to the late Fred Merle Miller and Fay Claycomb Miller. He graduated from Lower Merion High School, Ardmore, Pennsylvania, and received the Bachelor of Arts from Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania. According to his family, he accepted Christ and felt called to missions through the influence of a college professor. The course of his life was set, they said, and he never wavered, changing his major from engineering to philosophy.

After college, Miller moved to Southern California to attend Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, where he earned the Master of Divinity in 1953. In a church youth group in Pasadena, his family said, Dave fell in love with Glenda McCauley, a nursing student at University of California, Los Angeles, who shared his heart for missions.

After graduating from Fuller, Miller served from 1953 to 1956 as an U.S. Army chaplain for the hospital in Fort Lee, Virginia, and later for company headquarters, 53rd Infantry Regiment, in Alaska. Dave and Glenda were married on Dec. 18, 1954, and Glenda joined Dave in Anchorage.

When Dave completed his army service, he and Glenda moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where he earned the Master of Theology from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

From Louisville the Millers moved to Shouns, Tennessee, where Dave was pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church for four years. In 1961 the Millers boarded an ocean liner with three children under 5 bound for Brazil, where they would serve as Southern Baptist missionaries for the next 30 years. They studied Portuguese in Campinas before moving to Garanhuns and then seven years later to Recife. Dave was the executive secretary of the Pernambuco Baptist State Convention of 165 churches and was instrumental in uniting two Baptist conventions. Dave’s passion was for evangelism and church planting.

In 1975 Dave began work on the Doctor of Ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas. He completed his dissertation while in Recife, mailing chapters back to his professors.

For 16 years, Dave served in various roles at the 700-student North Brazil Baptist Theological Seminary in Recife. Prior to serving as president from 1985 to 1989, he served as a professor and as director of Theological Education by Extension, post-graduate studies and the doctoral program.

After retirement, Dave worked with New Hope First Baptist Church, Cedar Park, Texas, and Hillcrest Church, Austin, Texas. He enjoyed planning mission trips to Brazil, teaching Sunday School, planning evening services for seniors and faithfully visiting nursing homes, hospitals and homebound members. He also worked in prison ministry, counseling inmates.

His family said in his obituary, “Dave kept detailed prayer journals in his tiny handwriting that he went through daily. Chances are if you knew him, he was praying for you. He was genuinely interested in people and their stories.”

Dave is survived by his wife of 66 years, Glenda Miller; three children, Nancy Johnson (Wes), Paul Miller and Marjorie Paranaguá (Hélio); and three grandchildren.

A graveside service was held Sept. 7, 2021, at Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery, Killeen, Texas.

Read an obituary here.