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Rosebeth Miller

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PLAINFIELD, Mass., -- Rosebeth Caplan Miller, 56, of Williamstown, Mass., and Fairbanks, Alaska, died on Jan. 16, 2007, in Plainfield, after a long illness. She was born on July 8, 1950, in New York City and grew up in a musical family in New Rochelle, N.Y. Her parents were professional musicians -- her mother, Irene Jordan, a soprano in New York’s Metropolitan Opera, and her father, Arnold Caplan, a violinist in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra -- and Rosebeth studied piano and violin as a child. After graduating from New Rochelle High School in 1968 she majored in French at Syracuse University and obtained a master’s degree in French from the University of Maine at Orono.

While working as a VISTA volunteer in Alaska in 1973 she met her future husband, Randall Miller. They married four years later in Seattle, where Randall was in medical school, and had two children: Daniel, born in 1981 in Bangor, Maine, and Miranda (Annie), born in 1983 in Sedro-Woolley, Wash.

The family lived in Burlington, Wash. from 1983 to 1993, and in Williamstown, from 1994 to 2004, during which time Rosebeth dedicated herself to raising her children. The family were members of Congregation Beth El in Bennington, Vt. Daniel and Annie followed in their mother’s musical footsteps and studied French horn and violin, respectively.

Rosebeth’s life’s work was teaching piano to children and adults aged 4 to 77, with 30 students in Williamstown alone. Throughout her life she sang in choirs and ensembles, accompanied other musicians of all ages, and played violin in the Fairbanks (Alaska) Symphony.

A lover of languages and other cultures, Rosebeth was fluent in French, studied Native Alaskan dialects and taught Hebrew. She and her husband regularly served as a host family for foreign graduate students at the Williams College Center for Development Economics and for minority high school students at Greylock A Better Chance.

In 2004 the Millers returned to Alaska and became active members of the Jewish congregation of Fairbanks. Rosebeth continued to teach piano and play violin and with Randall enjoyed a remote cabin in the deep woods. In late 2006, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, she trained for two weeks with the Red Cross in Fairbanks and then traveled to Gulfport, Miss., to work as a volunteer.

In addition to her husband of 30 years, and her children, Daniel, of Rochester, N.Y., and Miranda, of New York City, she leaves her mother, Irene Jordan; three brothers, Joel Caplan, Rowen Caplan, and David Caplan; and an entire brigade of friends on five continents and in every time zone.

Memorial contributions may be sent to Heifer International at www.heifer.org, where a registry has been set up in Rosebeth’s name. She was a lifelong knitter, and sharing that craft. In honor of her love of knitting, friends may wish to contribute toward the purchase of the gift of a sheep, a llama, or a knitting basket through Heifer International.

The family invites Rosebeth’s friends to join them in sitting shiva, through the weekend, at 103 Jennings Brook Rd. in Bennington, Vermont.
Published in Bennington Banner on Jan. 19, 2007
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