Mariannette Miller-Meeks is the 4th of 8 children born to Fred and Annette Miller. Fred graduated high school and became a Master Sergeant in Air Force often working 2 or 3 part-time jobs as needed to support his family but eventually fulfilling his dream of owning a solo peanut farm in North Texas. Annette was unable to complete high school but worked as a shop clerk, postal clerk, librarian assistant and medical records technician until her health prevented her continuing in the workforce. The family relocated numerous times in accordance with the needs of the Air Force, but resided mainly in Texas.
Although economically challenged, Mariannette's parents often lamented to their children how the lack of a college education prohibited them from managerial roles where they were more qualified than their supervisors. These conversations profoundly motivated Mariannette to seek a college education.
In 8th grade, she decided to pursue teaching as a career despite her parents' displeasure. Her father thought the school system was biased against poor families, but Mariannette loved school and reading. However in 10th grade she and her younger brother were severely burned in a kitchen fire while stationed at Wright Patterson Air Force base in Dayton, Ohio. During this hospitalization she encountered a wonderful physical therapist whom she desired to emulate and decided she would become a doctor to help others as she had been helped. This was not an idea supported by her parents as they did not envision how this dream could possibly be achieved.
Through an Army program that paid for the tuition and books for the last 2 years of a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, she left high school and home at 16 to enter San Antonio Junior College, working full time to support herself. Upon completing 2 years of required courses, she transferred to Texas Christian University and was awarded her bachelors degree graduating summa cum laude and inducted into Sigma Theta Tau the National Nursing Honor Society. She transferred from the enlisted ranks into the officer corps as a nurse at 20 years of age.
Family PictureShe met her future husband while stationed at Walter Reed Army Hospital, and continued to work night shift while procuring the remainder of her pre-med courses. When reassigned to Seoul, Korea, there she completed a Masters of Science degree in Education from University of Southern California because the colleges didn't offer any pre-med courses. After 6 years active duty, she entered medical school in 1982 at the University of Texas and graduated in the top of her class, achieving Alpha Omega Alpha (the national medical honor society).
After completing her residency in ophthalmology at the University of Iowa, she went on faculty at the University of Michigan and was then recruited back to the University of Iowa as the first woman faculty in the department of ophthalmology. She has authored numerous articles, presented national lectures and research, awarded the Charles Phelps Award in 1995 and has been named numerous times to America's best doctors.
She is the councilor for Iowa to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), serves as an associate examiner for the American Board of Ophthalmology, received an achievement award by the AAO, and was inaugurated as the first woman president of the Iowa Medical Society in 2006.
For the past 11 years, she and her husband Curt have resided in Ottumwa, IA where she is in private practice and he is the compliance officer at Ottumwa Regional Health Center (having obtained a law degree at the University of Iowa in 1990 while Mariannette was completing her residency). They have 2 fabulous children, a son, Jonathon who is 20 and in college at Colgate University in Hamilton, NY and a daughter, Taylor who is 17 and graduating high school May 25, 2008.
Mariannette has coached soccer, taught science classes for the 6th grade, served on the parish council of St. Mary's church, president of the Wapello County Medical Society twice, and president of the medical staff of Ottumwa Regional Health Center. Curt has served as chair of RAGBRAI and Komen Race for the Cure and is a member of the Rotary Club and Izaak Walton League.
Mariannette organized a physician recruitment and retention organization to help bring physicians to the Southeast Iowa area. She retired from the US Army Reserve in 1998 after 24 years at the rank of Lt. Colonel and after a 15 month deployment following 9/11, Curt retired in 2006 at the rank of Lt. Colonel. They enjoy watching the wildlife outside the family room window (even had a gray wolf stroll by), walking, reading and attending their teenager's activities.