Marie Miles
Marie Miles
Marie Miles
Marie Miles
Marie Miles

Visitation at Funeral Home

2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Sunday, January 14, 2024
Preston Funeral Home
153 South Orange Ave
South Orange, New Jersey, United States

Funeral Mass

10:00 am
Monday, January 15, 2024
Our Lady Of The Lake
22 Lakeside Avenue
Verona, New Jersey, United States

Final Resting Place

12:00 pm
Monday, January 15, 2024
Hollywood Memorial Park
1500 Stuyvesant Ave
Union, New Jersey, United States

Obituary of Marie D. Miles

For Marie’s loved ones unable to attend her Visitation, on Sunday, January 14th, starting at 3:00 PM, we will be making it possible to attend online via livestream please click on the link below:


Obituary: Marie Dégrace Miles
A Celebration of the Life of Mrs. Marie D. Miles

Mrs. Marie D. Miles (née Marie Dégrace Désinor, known lovingly as “Tatoune”)  was called home to our Lord on the evening of December 27, 2023. She was born on January 21, 1925 in Poteaux, Gonaïves, Haïti, the child of Izélie Pierre and Normilus Désinor. She was one of 12 children, two of whom died earlier in Marie’s life. She was the last surviving member of the entire first generation of her family.

Marie was just 14 when her mother died, leaving her to be raised by her eldest sister Roseanna and her brother-in-law Florain Joseph “Parraiń” DuBois. Both of them also cared for her father Normilus and her other youngest siblings. It was at this time when Marie was finally able to enroll in school. There, she first fell in love with reading.

Marie had to leave school at the age of 17 with a third grade level of education to work and contribute in the care of her younger siblings and family. Being a versatile, young lady, Marie became a gardener, seamstress, hairdresser, and saleswoman. She travelled most times on foot or on a donkey with her older sister Alcénaïse/Aïde to go “en voyage,” to sell and purchase goods in local and far away villages and towns. The two sisters would begin their journey before sunrise and wouldn’t return until late night or even the next day. While these tasks and responsibilities may have been daunting to others, Marie found joy in the cultivation of garden vegetables and fruits to nurture and sustain her family and bring “en voyage.”

Marie Dégrace was a devout Catholic from her upbringing to her last breath. She grew up seeing her father saying the Rosary in the afternoons after he came from work as a laborer. He also took the children to the church next door to their house every Sunday after their mother got them ready.  It was through the church choir that Marie found and developed her life long love of singing, bringing new life to hymns and songs through the years with her melodious, heartfelt voice.

This beautiful voice was the perfect complement to Marie’s endless ability to love others and her compassionate soul. Marie was an elegant, beautiful young woman who’d been courted by many suitors, one of whom was Louis Louis-Jacques. The two of them had three children: Jocelyne, Edvard, and Lyonette Louis-Jacques. However, after a few years, their romantic union dissolved, and Marie was left to raise three young children. She was in her early thirties. Marie leaned on her faith in God, prayed, and worked hard to sustain her family. In 1960, her oldest sisters and close friends found ways to help her to emigrate from Haïti to the U.S. by way of Canada.

In his poem “Mother to Son,” Langston Hughes wrote: “life… ain’t been no crystal stair,” a sentiment that spoke truly to the new struggles which Marie faced in 1960s  America. She worked as a housekeeper, traveling from East New York to Manhattan to different buildings where she wasn’t allowed to enter through the front doors. Despite the multitude of other difficulties, the determined Marie Dégrace had to fulfill a mission: to send for her children left behind in Haïti in the care of her adult niece, Rose-Marianne Yanyanne” Léocal.

Thankfully, God answered Marie’s prayers. In the streets of Manhattan, she became acquainted with a very dapper, mature gentleman named Levi Miles. They soon realized they were meant for each other. They married on May 26, 1964 in Brooklyn, New York. Soon, they birthed a child whom they named Melinda Miles. Working together, the couple succeeded in bringing Marie’s older children from Haïti to the U.S. on Christmas Eve 1965.

In 1967, Levi and Marie D. Miles moved their growing family from Brooklyn to a larger apartment in Far Rockaway, Queens, NYC. Marie resumed housekeeping part-time and sold Fuller brushes door-to-door. Though she had a third grade equivalent education in Haïti, Marie learned how to read, write, and speak English by reading newspapers and listening to her husband and children communicate. She did all this while taking care of her children and her retired, disabled husband.

Marie studied United States History and obtained her U.S. citizenship in 1972. Soon after, she learned to drive under the tutelage of her young adult nephew, Joseph Charles, after which she obtained her driver’s license in 1974. Prior to this point, her eldest daughter Jocelyne left for college and only son Edvard was trying to find his own path in NYC. After obtaining her license, Marie drove her husband and remaining school aged children to Wilmington, North Carolina, the place where Levi was born and wished to retire.

In Wilmington, she continued to be a homemaker and raised Lyonette and Melinda. Lyonette left for college out of state. Levi died on September 3, 1982, around the time her youngest daughter, Melinda, moved out of state to college. Her only son, Edvard, died on March 24, 1983. Suddenly, Marie found herself alone, sad, depressed and missing her family. At this time she strengthened her religious convictions, prayed, and trained and sought employment as a nurse’s aide with the state of North Carolina. Being a family-first person, six months after her granddaughter Uzelia was born to daughter Jocelyne, Marie joyously consented to provide care for the young infant while Jocelyne established herself in her career. Marie relocated to Irvington, NJ in 1983. 

As time passed, Marie happily found herself traveling back and forth between East Orange, NJ and Wilmington, NC to help as more grandchildren entered the world. She was there to help as her youngest daughter Melinda welcomed Marie’s second granddaughter Melisa in Wilmington. Then two months later, Marie returned to NJ where Jocelyne had already given birth to Marie’s third granddaughter Fleurette. Less than 3 years later, she was on the road again to help Melinda for the birth and care of Marie’s new and only grandson, Daren. She lived with her eldest daughter’s family but continued to travel as the children grew and helped however she could.

Through it all, she continued to rely on her faith to strengthen her. She joined the Roman Catholic parishes of St. Leo’s in Irvington, Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament and St Joseph’s  in East Orange, and back to St. Leo’s in 1996. She even got baptized again as an adult because of her dedication to Christ and desire for salvation.

Despite traveling to and fro, Marie Dégrace lived mostly in NJ, being a second mother to Jocelyne’s children, caring for them as they grew into adulthood. For her pastimes, Marie enjoyed exploring books about the history of Haïti, which she shared with her grandchildren. She read Alex Haley’s “Roots” and the Bible in Haitian Créole, French, and English. Aside from the aforementioned love of singing and horticulture, she happily took care of her kids and grandkids’ pets, including a goldfish that lived 16 years because of her. She also loved to watch TV. Some of her favorite shows were pro wrestling (WWF), the 700 Club, People’s Court,” “The Price Is Right”, Good Times,” and the ETWN Catholic Network.

Marie Dégrace was strong and healthy and lived a relatively accomplished life despite her ups and downs. However, in October 2018, she was hospitalized for sudden acute and chronic illnesses. Due to those illnesses, she was unable to return home to her family after hospital discharge. She agreed to move into a Long-Term Care facility in West Orange, NJ. Needless to say, nursing home life was mostly unbearable for Marie. It became worse for her during the Covid-19 quarantine from 2020-2021 when she could only see her family through daily brief FaceTime sessions. Thankfully after lockdown ended in June 2021, her daughter Jocelyne with the help of granddaughters Uzelia and Fleurette were able to actively participate daily in her care at the nursing home. However, on December 7, 2023, recurrent acute illnesses cause Marie to again be hospitalized.

Recently when asked what she wanted for a present on her upcoming birthday, Marie responded my family.”  It was after this last hospitalization that her wish was granted. After discharge on December 16, 2023, her family took her home to Verona, NJ to live with and be cared for by her granddaughter Uzelia and family. Marie was overjoyed! On December 27, 2023, she transitioned to her final home with the Lord, surrounded by her cherished family, which is all she desired.

As the last surviving first generation member of her family, Marie was preceded in death by brothers: Normil Désinor (and spouse), Pierre-Charles “Moïse” Désinor (spouse Titoi), sisters: Roseanna (spouse Florain Joseph Dubois), Alcénaise (spouse Lécas Léocal), Yaya Désinor (spouse Alphonse), Lydie Désinor Amédé, Germaine (spouse Antoine Adelson), Marie Uranie “Ninie” (spouse Rock Charles), Marie Ocíla “Tante Soule” Désinor, nieces: Adèle Archer (spouse Pépé Franco), Edith Léocal (spouse Joseph Cantave), her husband Levi Miles, her daughter-in-law/maid of honor Sandra “Tontie” Miles, her son Edvard Louis-Jacques, and numerous other nieces and great nieces, nephews and great nephews, other relatives, and friends.

Mrs. Marie Dégrace Miles leaves behind her dear ones to cherish her memories; daughters: Jocelyne Louis-Jacques, Lyonette Louis-Jacques, and Melinda Miles; honorary son: Moïse Cambronne (spouse Yanick); grand-children: Uzelia Hall (spouse David Hall), Fleurette Louis-Jacques, Melisa Miles, Daren Jackson; great grand-children: Moiralena Miles, Justin Green, Levi Green; nephews and niece: Joseph, Jacqueline, Serge, and Alix Charles; goddaughter: Clunie Désinor, and great nieces and nephews: Jacsine Theodore, Asia and Imani Charles, Anne and George Franco; plus numerous other nieces/great nieces, nephews/great nephews, other relatives and friends.

In lieu of flowers donations to one of these charities would be appreciated.

Catholic charities site:

Habitat for Humanity's site:

World Food Program:

Doctors Without Borders:


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