By David Carroll

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)- Former Hamilton County District 6 Commissioner Lou Miller died Thursday afternoon at the age of 86.

Mrs. Miller was first appointed to the Commission seat in 2004 after the death of her husband Ben, who had been the District's Commissioner for almost 20 years.  She won a two-year term in the August 2004 election, but was defeated in a bid for a full four-year term in 2006.

Known as a sharp dresser with radiant red hair, Mrs. Miller was known for her attention to detail, an penchant for doing her homework, and never being shy about her opinions.  District 7 Commissioner Larry Henry said, "I have missed her whispering advice into my ear ever since she left the Commission.  She was one of the finest ladies I have ever known."

Born Mary Louise Lankford in 1924, "Lou" married Ben F. Miller Jr. on Valentine's Day 1947.  Ben was well known as a University of Tennessee football player and a Dupont plant supervisor before his entry into the political scene.  He never lost an election, and usually ran unopposed in District 6, which includes portions of Lookout Valley, East Lake, Red Bank and north Chattanooga.

Mrs. Miller had a busy career of her own, retiring after 20 years as manager of Chattanooga Human Services' Main Street Neighborhood Center.  She was a graduate of Central High School and the Edmondson School of Business.  The Millers were members of Brainerd Presbyterian Church.  Lou, an avid gardener, was active in numerous social and garden clubs.  She also proudly carried the Democratic banner, holding office in Young Democrats Club and the Democratic Womens Club.

Current District 6 Commissioner Joe Graham called her "a mentor to me, she was right along side me during my campaign last year.  Lou became a great friend. She became my coach and I will be forever grateful to her for her generosity and good advice."

Last October Graham and other Commissioners honored Mrs. Miller and her late husband by naming a judicial conference room in the Courts Building in their honor.  She gracefully acknowledged the honor, saying that when she was reunited with her late husband, "this is one of the first things we'll talk about."

She is survived by two children, three grandchildren, a great-granddaughter and several nieces and nephews.  

Visitation will be 2-4pm Saturday and 2-4pm Sunday at Chattanooga Funeral Home East Chapel (S. Moore Rd.) Services will be Sunday 4:30pm at funeral home Chapel, with Rev. Ron Ragon and Jonathan Schwartz officiating. Interment will be at Chattanooga National Cemetery, with graveside services Monday at 9:30am.