Miriam Donaldson

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 17, 2008

Miriam Evers Donaldson, M.D., Colonel (ret.), of the U.S. Air Force, died peacefully, surrounded by family members and friends, at her home in Opp on Thurs., Oct. 15, 2008, after a long illness. She was a remarkable woman, beloved by her family and friends.
Miriam was born Jan. 12, 1933, in Opp, the only child of Vermelle Evers Donaldson and Henry Ellis Donaldson. She grew up in Opp where she was an active outdoorswoman and sportswoman. She was a skilled angler and hunter. In her teens and 20s, she regularly competed in the state Women’s Golf Championship tournament.
Miriam attended Opp public schools, graduating from Opp High School in 1950.
After working for the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce and selling commercial real estate in Montgomery, Miriam decided to become a doctor. After attending the University of Alabama, she transferred to Huntingdon College from which she received her undergraduate degree in 1960. She then attended and was awarded her medical degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1965.
Following her internship at Oschner Hospital in New Orleans, La., she was engaged in private practice in Denton, Texas, from 1967 to 1974, where she also served as the Director of Student Health at Texas Women’s University.
In 1974, Miriam enlisted and was commissioned as a medical officer at the rank of major in the U.S. Air Force. Her first posting was to Eglin Air Force Base in Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., where, after a series of promotions, including promotions to lieutenant colonel in 1977 and to full colonel in 1982, she was assigned to serve as the Chief of Hospital Services at Iraklion Air Force Base in Iraklion, Crete, Greece, in 1983 and 1984.
She returned to the U.S. in late 1984 and served on the medical staffs at Maxwell Field in Montgomery and again at Eglin Air Force Base, receiving a series of awards for outstanding service before she retired from the Air Force in 1989.
Miriam was a flight surgeon with 89 flying hours in the O-130 aircraft, and a member of the Association of Military Surgeons, the Society of Air Force Flight Surgeons and the Uniformed Services Chapter of the American Academy Family Practice. She earned and maintained during her career medical licenses in the states of Alabama, Florida and Texas; and was a diplomat of the American Board of Family Practice and the National Board of Medical Examiners.
Her service awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, AF Commendation Medal, AF Organizational Excellence Award, National Defense Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Award, AF Overseas Long Tour Ribbon, AF Longevity Service Award Ribbon with two oak leaf clusters, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon and AF Training Ribbon.
Upon retirement, Miriam moved back to her beloved hometown, Opp, taking up residence in her late parents’ home at 1302 N. Main St. and a rural pond house which she renovated north of town.
Miriam was the last of seven generations of her family who lived and prospered in Covington and Coffee County in farming and related agricultural businesses. Miriam always retained a special regard and affection for people who live in rural areas and who live close to the land. She lived her life fully and lived it on her own terms.
She is survived by her cousin Norma Evers Sikes, her husband, Griffin Sikes, of Tuscaloosa, and their children, Griffin Sikes, Jr. his wife, Ann McKimmon Sikes, and their child, Claire Sikes; Margaret Sikes Land, her husband, Robert Land, and their children, Carolyn Land Williams, Ben Land and John Land; Nancy Sikes Dillard, her husband Joel E. Dillard, and their children, Miriam Dillard and Clay Dillard; Anne Sikes Hornsby and her husband, Joe Hornsby; Steve Sikes, his wife, Lucy Arnold Sikes, and their children, Harper Sikes and Evers Sikes; and Clay Sikes; her cousin Patricia Evers Caton, her late husband, Jimmy Caton, of Andalusia, and their children; Jim Caton, Jr., his wife, Susan Richardson Caton, and their child, Adam Horne; Greg Caton; Todd Caton, his wife Jackie Norris Caton, and their children, Stephen Caton and Hope Caton; and Cindy Caton Studstill, her husband, Charles Studstill, Jr., and their child, Charles “Bo” Studstill, III; and her cousin Patsy Morgan, her husband, Richard, of Dothan, and their children, Jennifer Sentenn, her husband, Stephen, and their children, Andy Sentenn and Jill Sentenn; Richard Morgan, Jr, and his children, Christopher Morgan and Brooke Morgan; Martha Doty, her husband, Jeff Doty, and their children, Matthew Wambles and Krystle Doty; and special friends, Dr. Monica Stewart-Bentley and Ms. Sally Shaner.
Miriam’s family and friends would also like to make known their sincere appreciation and gratitude to the staff of the Comfort Care Hospice in Andalusia for the care and comfort they provided to Miriam during the last months of her life.
Services will be held at the First Baptist Church in Opp at 11 a.m., today, Fri., Oct. 17, 2008, with burial following in the Opp City Cemetery. Pallbearers will be Griffin Sikes Jr., Robert Land, Joel E. Dillard, Joe Hornsby, Steve Sikes and Clay Sikes. Visitation will be held one hour prior to the service.
In lieu of flowers, charitable contributions may be made to Comfort Care Hospice in Andalusia or to a favorite charity