Skip to main content
UNC Libraries

Phyllis Miller: A Story to Tell - Local Elders Reflecting on Turning Points in Their Lives

93-year Old Grambling's Good-Deed Master

Clipping of Ruston Daily Leader news article on William Rutledge, 2020. Courtesy Phyllis Miller

A Drawing from Vietnam Created for William Rutledge

A drawing created for William Rutledge by the District Chief Lt. Col. Nguyen ngoc Chou when Rutledge was leaving Vietnam. Courtesy Phyllis Miller

At the age of 93, William Rutledge of Grambling, Louisiana has been moving his neighbors' trashcans in from the street and bringing in their daily newspapers for more than 20 years. Grambling is a historically Black city, originally founded by formerly enslaved people. Mr. Rutledge is well-known for running errands for local elders confined to their homes. He is a retired US Army veteran and school teacher. He moved back to Grambling after serving in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He is grateful for his life and his health in the face of major obstacles and close calls, and wants to give back.

Mr. Rutledge is one of the seven Grambling elders who are the focus of Archival Seedling Phyllis Miller's oral history collection. Miller's project focuses on turning points in local elders' lives based on interviews and genealogical research about them and their families. Her ultimate goal is to transcribe and archive the collection in local and state repositories, including the Eddie G. Robinson Museum in Grambling, to ensure access for future generations. Miller created her project in partnership with the Grambling History Committee.

"This is the kind of personal ministry that exemplifies the difference one person can make in the lives of those who directly benefit from his service, and also how one person can inspire others to make a difference in their communities."

- Phyllis Miller

William Rutledge on the Basketball Team

William Rutledge, front row, far right, on his elementary school's basketball team, 1942. Courtesy Phyllis Miller 

Listen to Phyllis Miller describe how she and her team developed their local oral history project through seeking out new skills and archival concepts.