Ulysses Miller couldn't wait until he graduated from Rutherford County's Carver High School to set sail for New York City. It was the only place big enough to deal with his ambition to "make good."
Forty years and several successful careers later, he's back where he said he'd always return and brought the rewards of his successes with him to share with his "home".
Ulysses D. Miller Funeral Services opened its door for business with a recent ribbon cutting and celebration that brought out friends, relatives, business associates and well wishers from Rutherford and surrounding counties. There were even several guests from out of state who had tracked Ulysses' career and wanted to participate in his crowning moment.
His presence in the county will be felt far beyond his name on the business. His funeral service represents a sizable investment that will contribute significantly to the county's tax base and he has created five new jobs with the promise of more to come. It's bright news in a county clouded by economic turmoil.
The road to his success has been anything but easy. Coming out of a segregated school in a segregated school in a segregated society with all of the attendant hurt and disappointment can be overwhelming. It worked the other way with Ulysses. He read everything he could get his hands on, dreamed about doing things that others could only shake their heads about and placing into action plans most wouldn't dare to attempt.
"I've never been afraid to take a chance," he says, summing it up.
And he's been successful at it all.
He has been a traveling hairstylist with Clairol, a registered nurse, and now, a funeral director. He has earned undergraduate degrees in nursing and mortuary science and a graduate degree in Public Health from Hunter College.
Ulysses is a proud man. He's proud of his family, proud of who he is and what he has become. He's also a humble man whose religion tells him to be thankful for his many blessings and to pass on the fruits of his labors. He praises his wife, Doris, for being with him all the way from Rutherford County and back. And he smiles when talking about sons, Latreece and Shayne, both college graduates and now members of his business team.
Those who know Ulysses say he is an inspiration to others and a promoter of education and ambition. He set up a scholarship through the Carver School Alumni Association he headed for eight years. All of that happened while he was still living and working in New York.
He's back home for good now and the county and all around him are the better for it. His life has lessons for all of us who aspire to be better and to do better.
Welcome home, Ulysses.