As an Oxford resident who has spent a lifetime working on the University of Mississippi campus, Kenny Miller said one memory that will live with him forever is witnessing James Meredith, the first African American student at UM, on campus.
“We would all watch as he was escorted to class by National Guards surrounding him every where he went,” he said. “He was never alone.”
Today, Miller is head of the Tri Delta cooking staff at Ole Miss, serving as more than just a cook for the young women of the sorority.
“I like to be a father figure to the ladies here,” Miller said, “especially since some are from far away. They need a father-like figure. I’m here to help them in any way they need me, whether it’s cooking their favorite meals or fixing their cars out in the parking lot. Anything.”
Miller, an Oxford native, and his wife, Teresa, love the community. “I love the people, the sports, and I sure do love Ole Miss,” said Miller, who is intrigued by the continuous development of the town.
Miller was raised by a single mother along with seven siblings. “She was my lifeline,” he said. “My mother is the one who taught me home cookin’.”
Miller’s mother worked every day to provide for their family and was the usher at Gordon Chapel Church. After his mother became ill, Miller took over her job at the church and still ushers every Sunday.
The Lafayette High School graduate attended Northwest Community College and boxed.
Four years ago, before working in the Tri Delta house, Miller worked for the Kappa Alpha Order house on campus.
Tri Delta has a complete working staff at the house every day of the week, and a live-in house mother, along with a number of sorority members living in the rooms.
Sorority members said Miller takes time to get to know them, which is difficult, because every year, new members and pledge classes continue to change and grow.
“I love everything about it,” he said. “I get to meet different people each year, and my family here continues to grow. I’m here for them.”
Miller even leaves friendly, motivational notes for the girls to keep their spirits up during tough days.
“The thing I like about Tri Delta is the respect the women have for every employee working in the house,” said Miller.
During holiday season, sorority members often send Miller and his family Christmas cards, and he responds to each of them with his own family Christmas card.
“He is just one of those people that sincerely cares about others,” said member Ross Black. “Mr. Kenny brightens everyone’s day simply by his positive attitude and his welcoming spirit, greeting everyone he comes into contact with and making sure we have a good day.”
Miller also cares about the sorority members families.
“Mr. Kenny knew that one of the member’s mother was having health problems,” said sorority member, Leland Graber, “and personally took the time out to give the mother a phone call to check up on her. That alone shows the character of this man.”
Aside from being the backbone of the Tri Delta house and its residents, Miller is a talented chef. He cooks three meals a day, five days a week, spending every day preparing meals in bulk for over 300 sorority members.
“Mr. Kenny is such a personable and caring person,” said Alexa Arguedas, a Tri Delta member. “He leaves all of the student teachers in our sorority pre-made meals with their names on it for them to take with them every single day. How can you beat that?”
Miller comes up with a complete menu each week for the girls, never missing a day or serving a meal late. He sometimes works Saturday mornings for game days, serving brunch before Grove events.
“My favorite dishes to cook are eggs, wings, and most of all … cookies,” said Miller, who often surprises the girls with fresh homemade batches of cookies throughout their long days on campus.
Miller uses his position on the university campus as a way to make a difference in other people’s lives. His kind attributes do not go unnoticed by the women of the sorority, as they host a staff appreciation week every year dedicated to Miller and his cooking and cleaning staff. During this week, the staff is given a variety of gifts and goodies presented by members.