By Stacy Smith

She keeps a piano keyboard in her room and has helped some of the Certified Nursing Assistants with vocal problems so that they can sing again in their churches. Yes, Ms. Millie McDonald is still working at her musical direction now from her room at Crowne Health Care of Greenville.

“I went to Montgomery for a little ole heart checkup and woke up having had a triple bypass surgery,” said Ms. McDonald. “For some reason, I could not walk. When I coughed, I cracked my ribs. Upon entering Crowne Health Care, the therapy department immediately started working with me. Through their diligent efforts over three-months, I learned to walk again.”

“As soon as she was able to move herself around the facility, she was visiting others in their rooms to offer support and encouragement,” said Sandra Medley, Director of Social Services at Crowne Health Care of Greenville. “She has even inspired some residents to go to an activity who had never been before.”

For 45 years, Ms. McDonald taught music in public schools, as well as teaching private voice and piano lessons. She was a soloist for a number of churches in Birmingham and the Director of Music for churches in Fort Deposit and Greenville. She enjoys opera and has performed in many operas including in Carmen, Die Fledermaus, and La Boheme. She has also been the musical director of many musicals include Mame, South Pacific, The Sounds of Music, Hello Dolly, Guys and Dolls, any many more.

“I have been fortunate to be able to prepare students for college music degrees including carrying groups of students to sing at Carnegie Hall in New York City five times,” said Ms. McDonald. “I have a Facebook page and try to keep in touch with my former students who sing in Nashville and with various opera companies across the United States.”

She has three daughters, seven grandchildren and one great grandchild. She named her daughters Dawn, Dusk and Day because of their birth hours. “Once upon a time, before cell phones, my daughter Dusk was away at Sneed State Community College in Boaz, Alabama,” said Ms. McDonald. “Her older sister Dawn had told her to call her if she needed anything, and to call collect. Feeling free to do so, she called saying, ‘This is Dusk calling Dawn collect.’ Day was visiting Dawn in Birmingham. Day answered the phone and informed the operator, ‘Dawn is not here. This is Day and I will accept the call.’ The operator quipped, ‘I bet you will,’ and hung up.”

“Several years later, author Anne George wrote a mystery titled, Murder Boogies with Elvis,” said McDonald. “She chose to use these three names for sisters in her book.”

Remarked Sandra Medley, “Ms. McDonald is like a ray of sunshine to both staff and residents. She has a great, positive attitude.”

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Editor’s note: This is the fourth story in a 10-part series about the finalists for the 2016 Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant. On July 15, we’ll post a story about Ms. El Reposo Nursing Facility Linda Slay.

Stacy Smith, APR, is a freelance writer based in Birmingham, Alabama.