(Sept. 13, 1920 – Feb. 10, 2013)
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On Sunday evening, Feb. 10, 2013 our mom, grandmother, and great-grandmother passed on to be at rest with her Lord. She was surrounded by family during the last days of her illness and decline, and was at peace in her final moments.
Born on Sept. 13, 1920, Mary Anne Miller was born in York, Neb. to Bert Derby and Elva Marie Prohaska. She was the second oldest child of nine children.
Mary Anne was preceded in death by her husband, Floyd Leslie Miller (2007); her great-grandson, Joshua Miller, and all of her siblings. Those siblings are listed, here, by birth order (youngest to oldest): Richard Wallace Derby, Frank Norman Derby, William Albert Derby, Ruth Leon Derby, Frances Arlene Derby, James Louis Derby, Ida Mae Derby, and Dorothy Lee Derby.
She is survived by her son, Rocky (Pat) Miller of Capitan, N.M.; and daughters, Melody Corbin of Alpharetta, Ga. and Vicki (Mike) Pratt of La Palma, Calif. Her surviving grandchildren are Keith (Angie) Miller of El Paso, Texas; Kyle Miller of Seattle, Wash.; Noelle (Nick) Larson of Ball Ground, Ga.; Melissa (Wade) Steiner of La Fayette, Colo.; Tawnia (Adam) Grone of Westminster, Calif.; and Kiley (Ryan) Waddington of Lakewood, Calif. Other surviving family members include her sister-in-law, Kathryn (Frank) Derby, and many nieces and nephews throughout the country who loved her and will miss her.
She was so proud of her 10 beautiful surviving great-grandchildren: Nicole and Natalia Miller; Winter Miller; Lyndsey and McKenah Larson; Jack, Sadie and Charlie Steiner; Reese Waddington, and Jackson Grone. Mary Anne also has another great-grandchild 'on-the-way' who, unfortunately, will never know her.
Many who knew Mary Anne would describe her as a woman of strong will and determination, one who felt she knew what was 'right' and what was 'wrong' – and one who would always speak out about her belief in Christ, from which she never wavered. She held many positions of responsibility within the church, and literally volunteered a lifetime of service to her church and church families.
In the mid-1960s while the family was living in southern California, Mary Anne earned a degree in education from the Cal State University of Northridge. From there, she went on to receive her master's degree. She was an educator for 35 years, in private Christian schools and public school systems.
Mom was a talented, creative and hard-working woman who was always driven to levels beyond what most of us feel would be necessary. This kind of drive accounts for the fact that she was in her late 80s before she finally stopped the back-breaking task of making quilts while leaning over the bedside to hand-stitch and tie every one of them – and she made hundreds! While most of us look beyond the machine-made methods, to the design and the beautiful dramatic colors, it was always her outspoken belief that "A quilt is just not a quilt unless it is hand-tied!"
Throughout her entire life, Mom continually wrote a lot of prose and poetry. There were religious poems, mostly – Some were even put to music and published. There were also stories of Dad's service in the Army, as well as her life as an Army wife. Lastly, she had been writing her own life's story. We believe she was on the 2nd edition of this writing when she passed. She has left a veritable room full of her collective works.
Mom was an avid football fan – particularly for Nebraska's BIG RED team. On every game day, we all recall her sitting in the living room, shouting at the plays on TV, and wearing her Big Red shirt in dedication to the cause. In her mind, Big Red's standings were always better than what was written in history – but that was part of her charm.
As we family members will forever remember, she would always recount the days when she walked home from her school classes in York, at a blinding speed of "one mile in five minutes." She would never relinquish her position of that proclamation – even though the proven track record for 'running' a mile had confirmed otherwise.
One last memory which deserves sharing with her friends is that of a family holiday dinner at one of the kids' homes. The table was set with beautiful china and glassware. The turkey had been set on the table as a glorious centerpiece, and we were all ready to eat. Mom had just finished saying the 'blessing.' When our bowed heads were raised, Mom noticed the water goblets at each setting. She quickly got up from the table, grabbed her (and Dad's) glasses demanding, "What is this?! – You know good and well your Dad and I don't drink!" – She took the glasses to the kitchen and poured out the water. It was determined, later, that she thought all liquids served in 'stem' ware had to be an alcoholic beverage!
We all just looked at each other, smiled, and then raised our own glasses of wine in recognition of one more great memory.
So, Mom: For all you have accomplished in your life – and for your obvious intentions to always do what was right and proper, we all love you. You will be missed.
Oh, and by the way... Please give Dad a hug for us. With love, Your Family.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service, www.dokkennelson.com.
Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service
113 South Willson Avenue Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Feb. 17, 2013