Celebrating a Century: Observing the Remarkable Journey of NJCU Alumna Bertha W. Miller ‘87 on her 100th Birthday

June 8, 2024
Bertha Wilson Miller '87 100TH BIRTHDAY-FINAL

JERSEY CITY, N.J. | 100 years. On June 8, 2024,  (NJCU) alumna Bertha Dolores Wilson Miller ‘87 celebrates a century of living a full life. As Bertha Miller takes her 100th trip around the sun, she reminisced about her time as an NJCU student and described it as a “crossroads” moment in her professional career.

“I became a reading specialist because I love working with children,” said Mrs. Miller about her reasons for continuing her education.  

Today, Bertha Dolores Wilson Miller, will celebrate her 100th birthday. Bertha’s life story is one of resilience, dedication, and unwavering passion for education, the arts, and community service.

Raised by her loving foster parents, Hester and Robert Wilson, Bertha’s early years were immersed in the values of hard work and getting a good education. She attended Oliver St Elementary School, Robert Treat Jr. High, and graduated from West Side High School in Newark in 1943. During World War II, Bertha contributed to the war effort by holding a clerical position at Prudential in Newark. Her post-war career included jobs to help make ends meet—all while raising three children with her husband, James.

However, Bertha’s dedication to education extended beyond her own children. Driven by a profound love for teaching and learning, she returned to school at the age of 51 — an age when many contemplate retirement. Balancing work and studies, she enrolled at Kean College (now Kean University), earning a B.A. in Early Childhood and Elementary Education in 1981. 

This is when ̽ came into her life. She further enhanced her qualifications with a New Jersey State Certification in Special Education and a M.A./Reading Specialist degree from Jersey City State College (now NJCU), where she became a proud member of the Alpha Upsilon Alpha, Honorary Reading Fraternity. She graduated at the age of 63.

Bertha W. Miller with artwork

Her teaching career, which began in 1966, spanned 25 years. Bertha worked with the Newark Preschool Council Head Start program, Aunt Millie’s Private School, and taught at Hurden Looker Elementary and W.O. Krumbiegel Middle Schools in Hillside, N.J. Her dedication and innovative teaching methods earned her the prestigious "Teacher of the Year'' award from the Hillside District in 1985, a testament to her impact on countless young lives.

Bertha’s influence extended far beyond the classroom. She is a Life Member of the National Council of Negro Women and volunteered with numerous organizations, including Kemco, Stella Wright, Walsh Home, Soweto After School Programs, NJPAC, Project H.O.P.E, and served as a 4H Leader. Her community service spanned decades, demonstrating her enduring commitment to making a difference.

Bertha W. Miller with family
Bertha with her family at the Newark Museum

An artist at heart, Bertha studied millinery, pattern drafting, and line model sketching in New York City. Her entrepreneurial spirit led her to start “Naturally Me,” a home-based baking business specializing in organic products. Her creativity was showcased in her intricate models of Newark City Hall, Lackawanna Station, Krueger Mansion, and the former Tiffany Building, which were proudly displayed at NJPAC in 2016. Further demonstrating her talent, her artwork was exhibited at Kenilworth and Union Public Libraries in 2019.

In 2022, Bertha experienced a pinnacle moment in her artistic career. At the age of 98, she was honored as the oldest contributing artist at the Newark Museum, where her abstract impressionist pieces were showcased during the Newark Art Festival. This achievement marked a crowning glory in her long, multifaceted life.

Throughout her century of life, Bertha W. Miller has faced challenges with grace and transformed obstacles into opportunities. Her boundless energy, love for learning, and dedication to her community have kept her young at heart. As her family — including her extended NJCU family — celebrates Bertha’s 100th birthday, we reflect on a life well lived, rich with contributions that have left an indelible mark on everyone she has touched.

“If I could go back in time I would follow my dreams earlier in my life. That’s the advice I would give anyone in school right now. Follow your dreams because you don’t want to get to 100 and wonder what could have been,” said Mrs. Miller about inspiring future generations of NJCU students.

Happy 100th Birthday, Bertha! Your journey continues to inspire and uplift all who are fortunate enough to know your story.

̽ NJCU: 
̽ is a comprehensive public regional institution of higher learning located in Jersey City, N.J., dedicated to the development of our students, our city, our communities, and our state. We are a game-changing force for our students and have been recognized as one of the top colleges in the nation improving their upward economic mobility. In fact, NJCU has been ranked No. 1 in New Jersey and Top 10 in the nation in the CollegeNET Social Mobility Index for 2023. Whether enrolled in one of our undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral programs at our three locations, NJCU students have access to an affordable, diverse environment, and an exceptionally ̽ive faculty. This prepares them to go on to become the next generation of workers and leaders who improve their communities and the State of New Jersey.



Ira Thor, Associate Vice President for University Communications | ithor@njcu.edu | 201-200-3301

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