Edith Jane McMillan, 57, of Durham and formerly of Unaka, passed away peacefully Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, surrounded by friends and family after a tough but brief battle with cancer.
She was supported in her battle by “Team Edie,” who fought with her throughout her illness and were with her at the end.
She was known as Edie by her family and affectionately as “E.D.I.E.” by her large circle of friends and co-workers.
She was preceded in death by her father, Dallas F. McMillan Sr., and survived by her mother, Frankie Miller McMillan; brother and sister-in-law, Dallas F. McMillan Jr. (Buddy) and Jennifer Murdock McMillan and their children, Connor John McMillan and Camryn Lane McMillan, who were the apples of her eyes. She also is survived by her life sisters and “Team Edie”members Mary Gilbert, Glenna Maynus, Ruth Vienneau, all of Durham, Karen Melich of Pittsboro and Team Edie members Dave Melich and Ken Gray, along with many other close friends in the Triangle region.
Edie was born in 1960 South Pittsburg, Tenn., at South Pittsburgh Regional Hospital, which is now a Haunted House attraction and may explain much of her personality. She spent her childhood in Marion County, Tenn., and attended Jasper Elementary School along with Marion County High School until 1976, when the family moved to the Unaka community in Cherokee County. Edie then became a Murphy Bulldog and graduated in 1978, being voted Most Unforgettable and a member of Who’s Who Among American High School Students.
She then attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was happily a member of the celebratory crowd on Franklin Street during the 1982 NCAA Basketball Championship celebration. Edie graduated in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and began a career of research at Research Triangle Park.
She first worked for Northrop Services as an EPA contractor and then began a long career with the Burroughs Welcome Drug Co. and its following identities of Glaxo-Welcome and GSK as a toxicology researcher, ending her career as a quality assurance auditor for GSK. She was an outstanding leader in the N.C. Chapter of Quality Assurance, and served many years as the membership chair and encouraging student participation.
Known for her sharp wit, quick tongue and love of a great story, Edie was a voracious reader who loved travel, music, art films, theatre and the art of socializing.
She volunteered many hours for non-profit organizations, promoting the arts in the Triangle area, including the International BlueGrass Music Association festival in Raleigh and MerleFest in Wilkes County.
For many years, Edie was a staunch supporter of the Man Bites Dog Theater, rising quickly from volunteer to board member. She also volunteered many hours at the Carolina Theatre in Durham and headed volunteer efforts for their annual Documentary Film Festival.
Edie was an animal lover, especially of cats, as evidences by her artwork and home decor through the years.
She was an ardent supporter of equal rights for all peoples and stood by her convictions throughout her life, backing down to no one or no group.
While she never married or had her own family, her friends were her family and her friends’ children were her children. She was especially fond of Ruth Vienneau’s two daughters, Claire and Autumn.
Edie traveled around the world many times for both work and pleasure, visiting faraway places such as Bejing China, Peru, Italy, India, Scotland, Amsterdam, Australia and France. She traveled extensively in the United States, her favorites being San Francisco and New York City, and she visited her Gilbert family in Canada on many occasions.
A memorial service for friends and family will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, at Murphy Rehabilitation & Nursing Center.
A celebration of Edie’s life is planned for spring 2018 in Durham, date and location to be determined.
In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to the Carolina Theater at www.carolinatheatre.org and to the feline rescue shelter in Durham, N.C. Safe Haven for Cats, at www.safehavenforcats.org.