Earl James Miles, March 23, 1918 — Jan. 1, 2013, of Columbia

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 | 9:34 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Earl James Miles, 94, of Columbia, passed away Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at Lenoir Woods. He was born on March 23, 1918, in Bunceton, Mo. He was the ninth of 13 children born to William “Dee” Miles and Lemmie Crump Miles. All of his siblings preceded him in death.

Earl was educated at Dunbar High School in Bunceton and began work at an early age. At age 18 he enlisted in the CC Corps, where he worked as an assistant foreman to construct the Washington State Park located in Southeast Missouri. He was discharged in 1939 and moved to Columbia to find work. Earl was employed over the years as a chef at the Wigwam Restaurant, Boone County Hospital and the Holiday Inn.


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Shortly after his arrival in Columbia, Earl met and subsequently married Clara Susan Gray who became his lifelong partner. They were married on April 14, 1940 and were married for 64 years until her death in 2004.

Earl dedicated his life to Christ and was an active member of Log Providence Baptist Church. Later Earl and his wife Clara became charter members of Progressive Missionary Baptist Church. He was the Senior Deacon, a Junior Layman Counselor, a member of the Brotherhood Choir and taught Sunday school. Earl and Clara were very involved in the church and community affairs. They worked faithfully for many years serving in the church’s food pantry and “The Lord’s Kitchen” which he and his wife founded. He, along with Clara and other investors, was very active in the development and construction of Miles Manor. This was the first subdivision in Columbia focusing on African-American home ownership. This was the fulfillment of Clara’s vision.

Earl leaves to cherish his memories two loving daughters: Beverly Jean Collins (Remie Chikasu) of Victorville, CA; Wanda Sue Ballenger (Whitman Maurcie) of Harbor City, CA; six grandchildren: Sherry Collins of San Diego, CA; Sheila Tippen (Keener) of Columbia, MO; Alonzo Ballenger of Inglewood, CA; John Collins, II (Tracey) of Rialto, CA; Shelley Williams of Monrovia, CA; Whitman Earl Ballenger of Harbor City, CA; eleven great-grandchildren; fifteen great-great grandchildren; a sister in law: Corrine Miles; a goddaughter: Susan Franklin; nieces; nephews; cousins; friends; and a church family who all thought of him as “grandpa.”

Friends will be received from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Thursday, January 10, 2013, at the Millard Family Funeral Home. Funeral Services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Friday, January 11, 2013 at Progressive Missionary Baptist Church with the Reverend Roderick Williams, Sr. officiating. Interment will take place at Memorial Park Cemetery. Arrangements are under the direction of MILLARD FAMILY Funeral Home, 12 East Ash Street; Columbia, MO 65203. (573) 442-7112. Condolences may be left for the family online at

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