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Sjieuwke Miller

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Sjieuwke Anna Miller 1928-2012 HOOSICK, NY - "My God she's beautiful" was a common remark from those people who saw her, even toward the end of her life after 2 years of a debilitating illness. Sjieuwke Anna Miller, 83, of Hoosick, N.Y., died peacefully June 23, 2012 at her home with her son and caregiver, Paul. Born Sjieuwke Anna Fokkema in Uithuizen, Groningen, The Netherlands on July 18, 1928, she was the daughter of Catharina Wiersma and Jan Fokkema. Known in the U.S. as "Anne", she grew up in Den Haag (The Hague) with her Frisian parents where Frisian was the first of 7 languages she learned. As a young girl in The Netherlands during World War II, she and her family endured many hardships: watching battles waged just outside their home, having their home ultimately bombed and destroyed by a mistaken RAF raid, and, with her older sister, would often risk their lives by raiding Nazi food storage in order for family survival. Also, for 4 years, her family hid a Jewish boy who later was the best man in Anne's wedding. After the war, Anne graduated from the Gemeentelijk Gymnasium School in Hilversum and then studied medicine at the University of Amsterdam where she received her Medical Degree. A gifted athlete, she played volleyball for the university's men's team. Anne came to the U.S. in 1953 to work during the summer with other European college students in Bolton Landing, N.Y., on Lake George. She worked at the Blue Mill Restaurant and met a young Adirondack minister named Joel Miller. Forgoing a medical internship at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady, she instead followed Joel and on December 29, 1956, she married him in Delaware, Ohio - where Joel was serving as Episcopal minister at St. Peter's Episcopal Church. While in Ohio from 1956 to 1961, she taught languages (French and German) at Ohio Wesleyan University. While in Ohio, her nickname became "Ingrid" because of her resemblance to Ingrid Bergman and due to the difficulty in pronouncing Sjieuwke. Anne and Joel moved to Hoosick Falls, N.Y., in 1961 where Joel served 3 area Episcopal Churches. At this time Anne began teaching French at Bennington High School (Ben-Hi). She then taught French at Hoosick Falls Central School (both high school and at times elementary) for 28 years and retired in 1989. While teaching, she received her Master's Degree in Education from North Adams College in Massachusetts. She returned to HFCS again when needed in the 1990s and even did a half year of teaching in 2002. Her love for her profession and her students was evident in her teaching, making her a much-beloved teacher. She was famous for making her classes fun and often entertained her students with her juggling skills. She led numerous high school trips to Europe with her French classes. She was the perfect tour guide, speaking all the various languages of the countries they entered. She led many adult trips to Europe as well. Along with her husband, Anne was a vital part of St. Mark's Episcopal Church and the community. She showed great dedication to the church, serving as organist from 1961 to 2009, singing in the choir, organizing and leading the handbell choir, and participating in the St. Hilda's Guild and the Altar Guild. Even after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2010, she continued to sing in the choir at All Saints Episcopal Church in Hoosick. An accomplished musician, she also played violin for the Sage Symphony in Bennington, Vt., and sang soprano with The Blanche Moyse Chorale in Marlboro, Vt. She performed several times with the chorale at Carnegie Hall. Anne was especially devoted to her family. She would travel to the Boston area each week in the mid-to-late 1990s to visit her daughter and share in her grandson, Gerrit's, early years. She loved to be home spending time with family and friends, creating flower arrangements, teaching piano, and participating in church activities. Anne had a lifelong passion for learning. She loved linguistics and could decipher the origin and meaning of just about any word or phrase. Because of this, she was often sought out to translate documents into English for local businesses. During the last 2 years, she was able to spend time with her children and grandchildren. She especially enjoyed accompanying her son Paul to his various job sites throughout New York and New England and going to local concerts. A timeless beauty known for her elegance and grace, she was beautiful both inside and out. She was commonly mistaken throughout her life to be 20 years younger than her actual age. Above all she will be remembered by family and friends for her kindness, compassion, and humility and her unique sense of humor. Elegant and graceful, she had great style and a wonderful fashion sense. Always the consummate hostess, warm and inviting, she nurtured and loved her family, friends, parishioners, students, and all whom she met. Her life ended much as she lived it, with quiet dignity. She is survived by a sister, Francine Kampman of Lochem, The Netherlands; son, John Peter Bernard Miller of Bolton Landing, N.Y., daughter, Katryn Margretha Miller of Groton, Mass.; son, Paul David Gerrit Miller of Hoosick, N.Y.; and grandsons, Gerrit Harlan Boldt of Groton, Mass. and Owen Alexander of Londonderry, Vt. She was predeceased by her husband, Joel and a sister, Gretha Spoel, of Oosterbeek, The Netherlands. FUNERAL NOTICE: There will be no funeral service. A memorial service will be announced at a later date.

Published in Bennington Banner on July 2, 2012
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