Anybody who met Sabina Miller knew the Great Neck stalwart was more whirlwind than woman, a boundless supply of energy and charitable spirit packed into a four foot nine inch frame.
“My mother was a force of nature,” Miller’s daughter Eleanor Burnick said. “She was energetic, she was giving, she was loving, she was caring, she would give you her ear. She was incredibly worldly. She loved involving herself in her community. She was a Great Neck institution.”
A frequent fixture in the Great Neck Record for her countless good works in the community, Miller at different points served on the ethics board of North Shore University Hospital, headed up the local chapter of the Lions Club, worked extensively as part of Kiwanis, hosted several shows on what is now North Shore TV (NSTV) and held a seat on the Great Neck Plaza Beautification Committee among many, many other things. But to her friends and family, the philanthropist and world traveler was a loving family woman with a knack for making smiles; who never wanted the spotlight to linger on her for very long.
“She had a wonderful sense of humor,” Miller’s son-in-law Daniel Burnick said. “Almost everything she did she would say something that was outrageously funny. She was always trying to laugh and enjoy life.”
Nearing the end of her ninth decade Miller remained active and independent, abiding by her “use it or lose it” philosophy with her physical mental health even as dementia began taking its toll on her a little more than a year ago. Miller and her daughter kept in touch over the phone and facetime daily after the former moved into an elder facility and the latter moved to Alabama. So Burnick knew right away when her mother began to feel ill on Monday evening, April 27.
“A week before she started sounding a little tired, but nothing crazy until Monday,” Burnick said. “She picked the phone up and she was struggling, I mean struggling.”
Burnick called the nurse’s at her mother’s facility, who immediately rushed her to the hospital. Still speaking through FaceTime through the ordeal, Burnick saw just how quickly COVID-19 progressed through her mother. After less than 36 hours, Miller passed on the morning of Wednesday April 29.
To say Miller’s death was shocking to Burnick would be an understatement. With her mother’s facility on lockdown and staffed by caring professionals, Burnick didn’t expect Miller to catch coronavirus at all, let alone fall victim to it so quickly. She hoped her mother’s experience would serve as a powerful lesson to anybody still taking the pandemic lightly.
“This COVID is so unbelievably dangerous for older people,” Burnick said. “They are at such a risk, and people are walking around Great Neck and New York not thinking anything of it. It can change literally in the blink of an eye, which is about how fast it was.”
The Kiwanis Club of Port Washington has established the Sabina Miller Community Service Scholarship to honor their longtime member. Anybody looking to honor Miller’s memory can make out a check earmarked for Miller to either:
NSTV at 1111 Marcus Ave., Suite LL27 in Lake Success