As a child, she thought nurses — robed in white, glimpsed in hospital windows — were angels on Earth. On walks, she would always ask her aunts to visit the hospital in Greensboro, South Carolina, where she grew up, so she could stand still and in awe. Soon, little Miriam “Mac” Sellers would grow up to be an angel herself.
Sellers died Tuesday at age 97 at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, where she worked 30 years. When she began there as a nurse in 1956, the hospital was a single building called Hall County Hospital, with nursing student classes on the top floor. She worked up the ranks quickly to night supervisor, a position she held for 20 years, and later director of nursing until retiring in 1986.
Nursing was her life’s pursuit, her youngest son Bruce, 67, said. She is survived by Bruce and her oldest son, Bill Sellers III, 72.
Longtime co-workers said she was an incredibly hands-on and hardworking manager who would go above and beyond for patients.
“If a patient needed something to eat, she’d go to the dining room or kitchen and find a sandwich,” said Sonya Hancock, who worked with Sellers for two decades. “If someone needed a medication on a floor that they did not have access to, she’d go to the pharmacy.”
She looked striking in her nursing outfit, Hancock said, and Sellers insisted that nurses wear their traditional white uniforms and caps.
“The first impression I ever had of her was she had that stiff white uniform and that lovely hat, and she was a very attractive lady,” Hancock said. “She was very decisive and could be firm, but she was very fair. Early on as a student and young graduate I was probably a little intimidated by her presence.”
But after retirement, Hancock and Sellers stayed close, even becoming regular bridge partners.
On- and off-duty, Sellers was known for her candor, dry wit and love for public service, said Veran Smith, who worked as a nurse under Sellers’ supervision for many years.
“She was quick to take me under her wing,” Smith said. “And she mentored me as a student and as a nurse.”
Smith maintained a friendship with Sellers even after Sellers retired. She often had lunch with her and other friends. Gainesville’s Southern Baked Pie Co. was one of her favorite places to order from.
Sellers was known as a dedicated reader of American history. Her own family tree stretches back to before the Revolutionary War as a descendant of the McCauley family, one of the oldest families in North Carolina, according to her obituary. Sellers' family vacations often meant touring battlefields.
But even with deep American roots, her son Bruce said she couldn’t shake her Scottish heritage.
“She was a simple, unassuming person,” he said. “She was Scottish, and that meant she didn’t care for all the hoopla whenever she got an honor or anything.”
Her home is nearly bursting with books about U.S. presidents, first ladies, the Civil War and whatever else Sellers could get her hands on, Bruce said. He took care of her in her old age for the last 10 years since her husband, Bill, passed away, and she was as sharp as a tack until the end, Bruce said.
Bill was as passionate about trains as Miriam was about nursing. He helped restore Engine 209, which currently sits in a park at the intersection of Jesse Jewell Parkway and West Academy Street. And Bill’s extensive and detailed model trains still run in his old basement, Bruce said, so the house is still bursting with Bill’s and Miriam’s passions.
“Both of our parents knew what they wanted to be,” Bruce said. “We really won the parent lottery.”
A graveside funeral service will be held for family and friends at 11 a.m. June 2 at Memorial Park Cemetery. Little & Davenport Funeral Home is handling arrangements.