When Elizabeth "Liza" Keith MacFarland (71c) walked into the Longhorn Steakhouse in Largo, Fla., after work one night in 2012, all she wanted was a margarita and something to eat. Instead, she found the love of her life.
"There he was sitting at the bar, cute as a bug," Liza said of meeting future husband Lee Miller (72c). "I started talking to him. Pretty soon I asked where he was from. When he told me Rome, Ga., it took my breath away. I said, 'Then you've got to know about Berry College.' That's when he told me he had attended Berry. Immediately, I knew I could trust him."
As the pair continued to chat, they discovered that they had attended Berry during the same academic year, although they never met. Forty years and one dinner later, however, Cupid's arrow finally found its mark.
A life-changing experience
Long before it became the bridge that brought them together, Berry helped provide a foundation for both of their lives. Now the pair will offer that same foundation to others through an estate gift that ultimately will fund the Elizabeth and Morrison Lee Miller Endowed Scholarship for hardworking students with limited financial resources. It's exactly the kind of scholarship that would have helped both Liza and Lee during their time at Berry.
Lee studied at Berry for two years before transferring to Auburn University to pursue a degree in engineering. He credits his time at Berry, in particular his classes with the late Dr. Lawrence E. "Dr. Mac" McAllister, with giving him the foundation he needed to succeed at Auburn and in his long career in electrical engineering and management, primarily working in the design and construction of large industrial process facilities in the United States as well as abroad.
"He was phenomenal," Lee said of Dr. Mac. "He taught me more about math and physics in two quarters than I learned my entire time at Auburn. I learned how to listen in class and how to retain information at Berry."
And while at Berry, Lee also learned how to manage a busy schedule, taking classes full time and working 40 hours a week at General Electric in Rome.
Liza, an elementary education major, was no less busy. She too took a full class load and worked full time, juggling jobs as a medical transcriptionist, youth group leader and telephone operator with Sears. "That's why we never met at Berry; we were just too darn busy!" Liza exclaimed, laughing.
Liza left Berry after a year to marry and move to California, where she continued to pursue her education, ultimately earning certification from the International Montessori Society.
Value of Berry
Throughout the Millers' courtship and marriage, Berry has been an ever-present topic of conversation, so it's no surprise that when the pair began to talk about estate planning, their thoughts settled on the school.
"We both strongly value education, which is why we decided to help fund students in this endeavor," Lee said. "Once that decision was made, Berry was our only consideration."
While it might have taken the Millers 40 years to find each other, one thing is certain: The love they share is going to help future generations of Berry students live their own happily ever after.