Jo Ellen “Jody” Canada Miller was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma on November 21, 1925 to Juanita Duncan Canada and Russell Lafayette Canada. While Jody was an infant, her family moved to the Harlingen, Texas area where she began grade school. After surviving a hurricane in 1929, the family returned to Tulsa where Jody finished her schooling, before attending Texas State College for Women (now Texas Women’s University). Following graduation with a B.S. in Physical Education, Jody taught at Cottey College for Women in Nevada, Missouri. While in college, she visited Fort Davis and met her college roommate’s brother, Clay Espy Miller. The couple married after Jody’s first year of teaching on June 7, 1949, and within that first year of marriage made their home on the C. E. Miller Ranch at Valentine where she spent her life, raising a family of four sons.
Always active in community life, Jody was a regular volunteer at the Valentine Schools and served as Den Mother for the Cub Scout troop. She taught countless Valentine children how to swim in the stock tank at the ranch. After her children were raised, she became a founding member of West of the Pecos Cattlewomen, serving in many offices of this local group, as well as Treasurer of the Texas State Cattlewomen. In her seventies, Jody traveled the United States for a number of years as a member of the Beef Industry Council, and in 2016 was recognized at the state level of Cattlewomen with a Lifetime Achievement Award in Fort Worth. As avid birders, Jody and Clay participated in the annual bird counts for the Audubon Society. Jody and her birding companion, Pansy Espy, were a familiar sight around the tri-county area as they pursued new and different sightings. She was chair of the Jeff Davis County Democratic Party for over 40 years, as well as being very active in that county Historical Committee. Jody was chairperson and led the effort to renovate the Jeff Davis County courthouse, completed in 2003. She and Clay were founding members of the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute. In 2003, Jody and Clay were honored by the Texas Parks and Wildlife with the statewide Lone Star Land Steward award for excellence in land stewardship.
Jody is preceded in death by her parents, her husband Clay, her brother Russell (Bud) Canada, Jr., her sisters-in-law, Mary Elizabeth (Betty) Byerley and Lucy Mildred Jacobson, and brother-in-law Joseph William (Jake) Jacobson.
She is survived by her brother-in law Leon G. Byerley of Midland, Clay’s cousin and wife, Kimball and Patricia Miller of Fort Davis, and her sons and daughters-in-law: Albert and Maralea of Valentine, William and Jill of Valentine, James and Carolyn of Fort Davis, and Walter and Ann of Horizon City. Her grandchildren are: Clay (Barbie), Rex (Stephanie), Wesley (Alicia), Nicole, Don (Jennie), Jason, Kyla, and Shely (Ryan). Jody is also survived by eight great-grandchildren, a great-great grandson, and a host of nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Bloys Camp Meeting Association (Maxie Watts, 125 Bluebriar Lane, Buchanan Dam, Texas 78609) or the West of the Pecos Cattlewomen Scholarship Fund (P.O. Box 522 Marfa, Texas 79843).
The family wishes to thank the staff of Sunridge Senior Living and at Sierra Providence East in El Paso for their exceptionally kind care of Jody during the last few months of her life.