November 2017

Millie Dunn Veasey

Millie Dunn Veasey

For nearly a century, Millie Veasey has served her country and her community.

She first heard her country’s call when the United States entered World War II. She made up her mind to serve and, in 1942, volunteered for the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). She eventually deployed overseas, where she was stationed for four months in Birmingham, England, and nine months in France. She served as a company clerk and supply sergeant, rising to the rank of Staff Sergeant before being discharged in 1945.

For Veasey, born in Raleigh in 1918, military service not only enabled her to live in other countries, but also to experience a new way of life.

Returning home after the war, Veasey enrolled at Saint Augustine’s College, where she also worked as executive secretary to President James Boyer. She majored in business education and minored in English, graduating in 1953.

But Veasey was not satisfied with only being a student.

The civil rights movement was in full swing, with organizations such as Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) seeking southern volunteers. She joined the NAACP, becoming the first African American female president of the Wake County chapter. In that role, she worked locally and with national civil rights leaders.

“I actually met and talked with Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court Justice,” she remembers.

Veasey retired from the university in 1986 as the director of career planning and placement /cooperative education. However, she continued to be actively involved in helping others and in seeking to make a difference for her community. She taught Sunday school to young children at her church and for many years assisted neighbors in filling out tax forms.

“If I can help somebody to do something they cannot do for themselves, I wanted to do that,” she said, “After all, the next day they might be able to help me do something that I could not do.”

Veasey traces her spirit of caring and service to the grandmother for whom she was named, Millie Gunter Hunter. As a young child, Veasey attended Raleigh’s First Baptist Church on Wilmington Street and watched as her grandmother continually sought to serve others.

“I knew my grandma as a missionary,” Veasey remembers. “That was the grounding force that has really shaped my life all these years. For me, it has never been about me, but about helping and serving others.”

Author: Cassandra Talabi