Friends remember Carrie Miller: 'Her center was a great deal of kindness and compassion'

EUGENE, Ore. - Mourners packed the chapel at Central Presbyterian Church in Eugene on Wednesday as the community gathered to honor the life of Carrie Miller, a well-known homeless woman.

Miller died last week while spending a cold night on the porch of White Bird Clinic in Eugene.

The chapel was filled with Carrie's street family, homeless advocates, and even police officers who had regular encounters with her.

They took turns sharing memories of "Mama Carrie."

"Carrie touched our hearts," said a friend of Carrie that goes by the nickname Eugene Drix.

"She could've been anyone's mom or dad or commander," Drix said. "She had more power in that red-headed heart of hers than you can imagine. It was always offered out as kindness and love."

Before she was homeless, Carrie served in the Navy. She was also a mother of four.

She was well-loved by the organizations that helped her survive, and well-known to law enforcement that often checked in with her on the streets.

Officer Scott Fellman with the Eugene Police Department knew her for the 20 years that she lived in Eugene.

"A very complicated individual," Fellman said. "But at her center was a great deal of kindness and compassion."

The memorial service was not only a time for music and quiet reflection. It was also an opportunity to rally the community around the plight of the homeless, something that Carrie passionately spoke about.

"It's an opportunity for us as a community to rally," said Dan Bryant, pastor at First Christian Church. "To say: never again."

Bryant said Miller's death is a call to action.

"We did that around the death of Major Thomas Egan, 7 or 8 years ago. Created the wonderful system of the Egan Warming Centers. It's time for us to do that again. To create a Carrie Miller Public Shelter," he said.

Bryant's suggestion of the public shelter was met with applause.

"She was Eugene. As we all are," Drix said. "So the best thing we can do to honor is to Carry on."

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