Terrie Miller is the winner of AWCI’s 2014 Pinnacle Award, the association’s highest honor. Terrie is the first American woman to be presented with this award, and because her husband Bruce won the award in 1999, that means Terrie and Bruce are the first married couple to have “Pinnacle Award bookends.” (Anne J. Daly of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, was the first woman to win AWCI’s Pinnacle Award.)
Terrie is best known to AWCI members as the person responsible for instituting the AWCI Cares program and getting it off the ground. AWCI Cares, which was established in 2005, provides financial support through grants offered to AWCI members in need.
With her boundless energy and enthusiasm for life, many people who know Terrie compare her to the infamous battery brand mascot, the Energizer® Bunny. From raising their two children while Bruce worked at the company he founded in 1954, Denver Drywall Company, to climbing to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro with her granddaughter in the 2000s, Terrie is known for getting the job done.
Making the Office a Family
When their two children were grown, Terrie turned her attention to Denver Drywall Company, where she made and impression as a go-getter but also brought a sense of family to the company.
Jill Dollar, DDC’s former controller, noted that Terrie was “a very good businessperson. She was astute financially.”
Dollar adds that Terrie and Bruce “worked, amazingly to me, well together. Husband and wife—that’s tough. You would never have known. It in the office they were business associates, worked well together. I think respected each other and enjoyed the difference of ideas and could look at both sides of an issue.”
Ernie Satolongo, former DDC safety director, said, “She brought … the family values. As busy as her schedule was here at the office and with the company, she always had time for her family. … She really felt that Denver Drywall was an extension of the family, and what [Bruce and Terrie] provided was just a great place to work.”
Terrie’s contributions to the company’s growth often surprised employees, but no one was more surprised than Bob Davis, former DDC engineer and project manager. When he was an ambitious new estimator, he decided to put in some overtime on a Sunday. That’s when he discovered Terrie cleaning the office. Davis said he was a little shocked to find someone in the office on a Sunday afternoon, but once he realized who it was, he was surprised “because she was essentially cleaning up after us.” He says he was “really impressed that she would come and do that and clean a big office for a bunch of construction personnel who aren’t necessarily always careful about what they do, and she spent a good, long time doing it that afternoon.”
But Terrie always kept an eye on her children, even after they had grown. When daughter Sudee was newly married, Terrie recognized that there was value in going after jobs with the Women’s Business Enterprise designation.
Sudee says, “I had no money, so mom decided to kind of be the backer. We were going to be partners; she was going to be the money and I was going to be the workhourse.”
Adds Bruce, “Terrie was watching the payrolls and Sudee spent time out in the construction site to make sure that our guys were turning the time in like they were supposed to. They got the certificate and worked very well for several years.”
So after raising two children, she helped with the family business, then was instrumental in helping to start another family business. Terrie just didn’t quit, even when she was diagnosed with cancer. For a week she focused on getting her life organized for those she would leave behind.
And then she changed her mind.
“She said, ‘I’m not going to give any of my stuff away,” Bruce tells us. When he asked her what changed her mind, Bruce says she replied, “I’m not going anyplace.”
“And that was the beginning of ‘hey, I can whip it,’ and she whipped it,” Bruce says.
Terrie’s friend, Carol Chambers, says, “I learned from her how strong a person can be when they face adversity. She would give me little books about inspiration and there were many times I thought, ‘Terrie, you are my inspiration.’ I don’t need a book to tell me what I need to do to live each day, she was a perfect example of what to do.”
Terrie and Bruce Miller also consider AWCI to be their family, according to their son, Gregg. “AWCI is it’s not just a place that they go to a convention or go out of town for a meeting,” he says. “They go there to interact with other individuals who are in the same position as them.”
And “being there” for family and friends is what makes Terrie, Terrie. From attending committee meetings and Continuing Study Committee trips, to starting new AWCI programs, Terrie has been a constant at AWCI meetings for decades.
Hope Nabity, one of the AWCI women who helped start the AWCI Cares program, said that “Terrie, along with some of her close friends in this association, realized that there is a need for us to do what we can to help those in emergencies. They formed CARES, they worked countless number of hours on setting guidelines, ensuring that the confidentiality of those who are applying. And to this day, over $100,000 in grants has been given to families in times of emergency.”
Chambers, another AWCI Cares founder, had this to say: “Working with her on AWCI cares has been a joy and a lesson in determination. This compassionate and generous woman worked tirelessly to make our goal of helping others a reality.”
And that is just the kind of spirit and attitude that will earn you a Pinnacle Award from AWCI.