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Margaret E. Miller '46

Margaret Edith Barton Miller (October 16, 1922 - June 2, 2014). Margaret Miller, formerly of Port Angeles, died in Ghent, New York, at the age of 91. Born in Brooklyn, New York City, to Thomas and Marie Barton, she was the second of five children. The family moved to Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, where Margaret lived until she left for college. Margaret's lifelong strong spirit came from her dad, a U.S. Marine, who encouraged her to reach for the stars and challenge the limitations women faced. She attended Antioch College and had many enriching experiences, including internships at the newspaper The Chicago Defender and at a home for unwed mothers in Virginia. While living in Virginia, she attended classes at a black college and never forgot the chilling examples of segregation she observed. Margaret intended to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II, but the war ended just as she obtained her pilot's license. Margaret married David Miller at Antioch in February 1945. After graduation, they moved to Durham, North Carolina, where David attended Duke University Medical School. Margaret worked as a medical secretary until their first child was born in 1948. Four more children would follow within 9½ years. The family moved to Boston in 1950 so David could complete his medical residency and cardiology fellowship. After he completed his education at Harvard, the family moved to Maryland, Arizona and in 1959 to a small town in Monterey County, California, where David joined a private medical practice. David took a six-month leave of absence from his medical practice in 1960 to work with Dr. Albert Schweitzer at the Schweitzer Hospital in Lambarene, Gabon. Margaret held down the fort, caring for her five young children, their dogs, cats and two horses, aided by good friends and neighbors. Margaret was active in the community, serving as Girl Scout troop leader, president of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and swim coach. She began the first foreign exchange student program for the high school. She was also an active member of the Bridge Club and the Sherry Club, and attended St. Mark's Episcopal Church. Those were happy years, and lifelong friendships were made. In 1966, David's medical career took them to Honolulu, Hawaii, where Margaret completed her master's degree in education at the University of Hawaii, then to Atlanta, Georgia, in 1968. In 1970, David divorced Margaret after 25 years of marriage to marry Rhena Schweitzer. Margaret raised her three children who were still at home and re-entered the workforce at the age of 47 as an elementary school teacher and reading specialist. Working with children was her love, and she impacted many a child's life by her innovative methods of teaching, her patience with the children and her joy in teaching them to read. Margaret was known for her generosity, bringing food from her home for her students who would have otherwise gone hungry. She was an active member of St. Bede's Episcopal Church. In 1988, Margaret retired and moved to Port Angeles to be closer to her oldest daughter and family, especially her two young granddaughters. From 1988 to 1992, she worked for Peninsula College and the state of Washington, and volunteered with the National Park Service. She built her dream house in 1990 and transformed her 2 acres into beautiful gardens (although she was sometimes outsmarted by the deer). In 2009, she moved into a cottage on her youngest daughter's and son-in-law's land, where she lived happily, enjoying the friendships of her son-in-law and her amazing caregiver, Michelle Welch. Four years later, she moved into an elder community, Camphill Ghent, in upstate New York, where her daughter, Deborah, was the administrator, allowing Deborah to be with her every day. Margaret made many friends during her 24 years living in Port Angeles, particularly at the Port Angeles swimming pool, where she was a fixture until her move to New York. Her lifelong love of swimming began at a young age when her father taught all of his children to swim and enrolled them in the YMCA swim team. Margaret was a competitive swimmer for many years. Her passion for swimming touched several generations, as she taught all her children and many of her grandchildren to swim. She was a talented golfer and tennis player, and a sun-worshipper. She was an avid reader, walker, music lover, gardener, nature and animal lover, and was a member of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church for many years. Margaret personified action and independence. She took the curves life threw her in stride, maintaining her father's philosophy of getting back up, shaking yourself off and moving forward. In times of sadness, she was the person who kept our family together. She was a fiercely loving and protective mother. She was also an exacting mother who expected her children to exhibit the values she and our father instilled in us, from minding our manners to excelling academically and choosing a profession that would make a difference to other people. Her love and belief in her children and grandchildren superseded all else. Although her health precluded her from attending church later in life, her faith remained strong. She met the changes in her health and living situation with grace, humor and strength. She was never bitter but was thankful for God's blessings. Margaret is survived by her youngest brother, Dewey (Martha) Barton of New Smyrna Beach, Florida; her five children, Madeleine (Keith) Harrington of Port Angeles, Deborah Grace of Chatham, New York, Susan (Michael) Sheppard of Buckinghamshire, England, John (Kerry) Miller of Bloomington, Minnesota, and Pamela (Mark) Hawney of Port Angeles; 12 grandchildren; three stepgranddaughters; four great-grandsons; two stepgreat-grandchildren; and three nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents; her siblings John, Robert and June, all of whom are buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia; and by her ex-husband, David. Per Margaret's wishes, her body was cremated. A funeral service will be held at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 510 East Park Avenue in Port Angeles, on Saturday, August 2, 2014, at 1:30 p.m. with a reception to follow. Contributions in her name can be made to the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society (www.ophumanesociety.org/donate) or Camphill Ghent, Chatham (www.camphillghent.org).