Mildred Thelma McMillan Ransom, 101, formerly of Cumberland, MD and residing in High Point, NC, died peacefully surrounded by family on January 20, 2018. She believed in living life fully, and living joyfully for today. She would say, “This is our day to live. Yesterday is past, what is the plan for tomorrow? God will take care of it. Thanks be to our Lord.” She believed in giving service to God, the importance and strength of family, and love and hospitality to others.
She was born to Freeland Alexander and Myrtle Plummer McMillan in a cabin in Crumpler, Ashe County, North Carolina on June 14, 1916; Flag Day. It was the time of the latter half of World War I and the Whole Nation celebrated her arrival as flags were flown. “It was too far inland for a stork. The doctor rode a horse and brought me in his saddle bags.”
In 1920, her family moved to Jarrettsville, Maryland, where she grew up on a farm. Her father was a tenant farmer until he could save enough to get his own farm. She went to elementary school at Mt. Horeb, a one-room schoolhouse for grades 1-6 and she lived 5 miles from the high school, grades 7-11, which she attended from 1928-1932. Sometimes she rode in a horse-and-buggy and sometimes she hitched a ride on a milk truck making its rounds to the farms.
In June of 1929 she was involved in an accident that changed her life and damaged her right leg. She spent five and a half months in St. Joseph’s Hospital, in Baltimore, Maryland. After spending a year at home recuperating, she decided to pursue a career in nursing. She spent 2 years caring for the infant son of her English teacher until she was old enough to enter Nurse’s Training at Union Memorial Hospital School of Nursing, which she attended for 3 years, graduating in 1938. She then completed additional training in psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
She was working in obstetrics and gynecology at Union Memorial when she met her future husband. Leland Bracher Ransom was a second-year medical student at Johns Hopkins Medical School when he started courting her by bringing her ice cream. Mildred worked at Union Memorial until Leland was ready for his internship in New York City. They were married on March 16th, 1939. Their first child, Carole Anne, was born on October 9, 1940 and their second child, Leland Bracher, came on November 9, 1941. Her sister Georgia came to live with her in New York, worked as a nurse, and helped with the children while Leland stayed at the hospital while on duty. Leland’s Internship at New York Lying-In Hospital was interrupted when he was called to serve in the Army in the Pacific Arena. He was away for 2 years. Mildred and children went to live with her parents while he was away. When he returned he established a medical practice in Cumberland, Maryland. They had four more children: James Laurence, David McMillan, Susan Kay, and Jennifer Lynn. Mildred never worked again full-time as a nurse other than in growing their six children and through volunteer work. One son, David, was disabled with cerebral palsy and this led to Mildred’s ongoing support of The Children’s League, an organization that meets the needs of children with special needs in the Cumberland area.
The Church has always been an important part of Mildred’s life, and her faith in the Creator God has sustained her through the difficult times in her life. She was baptized at age 15 in the Methodist church in Jarrettsville, Md. Later, when she and her husband moved their family to Cumberland, MD, she united with First Presbyterian Church, and finally felt “at home” in that church. She was very involved in the life of the church. She became active in the United Presbyterian Women (UPW) in their outreach programs: Christian Neighbors, Meals on Wheels, and others. She served two terms as President of UPW and twice attended the triennial meetings at Purdue University which she found tremendously inspiring. She also served on various other church committees, was the first female to be elected to the governing Session of First Presbyterian Church in Cumberland, MD, and was ordained as Ruling Elder in February 1966. She has worked on numerous committees including one Pastoral Nominating Committee and served 20 years as Clerk of Session. In addition, she was the Baltimore Presbytery Commissioner to the General Presbyterian Church USA Assembly in 1977. She has always had a passion for outreach and supported various missions of the church. She was part of a delegation that traveled to Korea to see the hospital that the First Presbyterian Church in Cumberland helped to build. Later, when she moved to North Carolina, she joined Westminster Presbyterian Church partly because it was a “great mission church”. Her husband’s care needs made it difficult for her to participate in church life like she did in Cumberland. Later as her own health deteriorated she managed to attend at least the first Sunday of the month when she could receive communion and reconnect with friends. Her favorite hymn was “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” and of course she loved to hear the bagpipes play.
She was very active in the Cumberland community in terms of volunteer service. As a young mother she belonged to the Mother’s Monday Club. While her children were young and in school, she was active on the PTA, was one of 36 members of the Citizens Advisory Council in 1972, and supported the drive by the Board of Education that led to including sex education in the High School curriculum. Other community organizations in which she was active included the Medical Society Auxiliary, Sacred Heart Hospital Hospice, the Garden Club of Cumberland, and Friends Aware. She applied her nursing skills in her role on the local board for the Allegany County Chapter of the Red Cross, the Health Planning Council of Appalachia, MD, Inc., and the Family Planning Clinic for the Health Department. She was also an active member of PEO, both in Cumberland and later in Greensboro. Her hobbies in her spare time between raising children and community service were gardening, conservation, reading, and getting acquainted with grandchildren. She took great care with her correspondence, and always wrote out a rough draft of important letters. Her letters were both erudite and inspirational.
In 1999 she moved to Greensboro, North Carolina with her husband to be near 3 of their children. She spent the next four years caring for her husband who was becoming more frail with Parkinson’s Disease. At his passing in April of 2003 they had been married for 64 years. Theirs was a marriage to be envied as they were devoted to each other. After the death of her husband Mildred continued to live alone in their ranch house for five years. On February 7, 2008 she moved to Pennybyrn, a Continuing Care Retirement Community, where she lived independently in her own apartment. She became the informal greeter for new residents there as she made a special effort to invite them to eat with her and introduce them to the other residents. The friendships she formed there were very special to her.
Near the end of August in 2015 she had a stroke that changed her life once again. Following the stroke, she was no longer able to walk, and many of her activities of daily life were difficult if not impossible for her to perform independently. Her daughter, Jennifer, took a year off from work to provide a home for her where she could still tend her violets, keep up with current events, and correspond with friends and family. That year she received 100 cards for her 100th birthday and on June 14th, 2016 approximately fifty friends came to her home and the following Saturday, nearly fifty members of her family came for a second celebration. As her health and strength declined she returned to Pennybyrn the following year to be nearer to her friends there.
Mildred is predeceased by her parents, Freeland and Myrtle McMillan, husband Leland Bracher Ransom, son David McMillan Ransom, who died in March 1960, at age 11, brother Bradley McMillan, Brother-in-Law William and his wife Carola Ransom. She is survived by two sons Col. Leland B. Ransom II, USAF, Ret. and wife Patricia and Dr. James Laurence Ransom, MD, Ret. and wife Margaret, and three daughters Mrs. Carole Mullan and husband Jim, Dr. Susan Collins, PhD, RN and husband F. Lee Collins, RN, Ms. Jennifer Ransom-Smith, RT, twelve grandchildren, nineteen great-grandchildren, her sister Ms. Georgia Keesey, and nephews Loyal, Alex, and Rodney Carlon. Mildred has led a long and plentiful life and she will be greatly missed in the world.
Friends will be received at the Scarpelli Funeral Home, P.A., 108 Virginia Ave., Cumberland, MD, on Sunday, January 28, 2018 from 1 to 3 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m.
A funeral service will be conducted at First Presbyterian Church, 11 Washington Street, Cumberland, MD, on Monday, January 29, 2019 at 11 a.m., with Rev. Howard Newman and Rev. Caroline Kelly. Friends will be received at the church for one hour prior to service.
Interment will be in Sunset Memorial Park.
In lieu of flowers memorial contributions in Mildred’s name may be made to: The Children’s League, P.O. Box 267, Cumberland, MD 21502
Condolences for the family may be left at www.ScarpelliFH.com.