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Minnie Miller


1934 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Minnie Miller Obituary
Minnie Miller, 81, of Blackfoot, Idaho, passed away on May 25, 2016, following an extended illness.  Many people have known Minnie, but few had any idea how this feisty lady came to pass.  
She was born on the wrong side of the tracks in Warren, Pennsylvania to Frank and Imogene Maze Bonavita, on Dec. 15, 1934.  Neither of her parents had the luxury of a high school education; both worked, instead, helping families survive the Great Depression. Theirs was a "mixed marriage" they said because Frank was a "dago" and Jean was Shanty Irish. They laughed, they played cribbage after supper, and Saturday nights they danced to Stardust at the Marconi Club. Their home was a short uphill trek from her father's job at the Struthers Plant; he walked that path five days a week; they never owned an automobile.  
If riches are in the eye of the beholder, the Bonavita family was priceless: Aunties, who loved you to death, pinched your cheeks, and always brought a covered dish. Uncles with names like Tony and Rico, who wore pegged pants and mustachios, and stopped off after work at Chementi's Bar.
 Frank Bonavita, better known as "Flat," was a town character.  Loquacious and outgoing, he was the local expert on baseball.  His gravelly voice echoed above any crowd as he needled umpires, or encouraged the kids he coached. Everybody knew him; everybody liked him, and everybody loved the little red-headed girl at his side. Minnie was Flat's daughter. She too was loquacious and outgoing, and Flat told people she'd been vaccinated with a phonograph needle. The talking never stopped. Minnie was co-president of her senior class in high school, and anchored the Warren High cheerleading squad (that would be Fannie, Frannie, Sally, Barbie, Jackie, and Minnie.) 
After high school, Minnie trained in nursing at St. Francis Hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania. Two years later, with an RN diploma in hand, she and lifelong friend, Betty Lou Franco, set out on their own to see the country. They got as far as Evanston (Illinois) Hospital, where Minnie met August "Bud" Miller, a third year med student at Northwestern University Medical School.  
Minnie and Bud were married on June 14,1958. After finishing med school they moved first to Seattle, for his internship and residency at Swedish Hospital, then on to Mississippi where Bud was base surgeon at the 3505th USAF Hospital at Greenville.  Their journeys ended in 1963 when Bud joined with his father, Dr. August Miller, Sr., as a family doctor in Blackfoot. Idaho.  
Minnie arrived in Blackfoot unprepared for the culture shock that would follow. When her beautician asked "Were you and the Doctor married in the Temple?" She replied, "Why no, we're not Jewish." 
To the clerk who inquired which Ward she was in, she responded, "I don't know; what are we voting on?" When she suggested the family eat out for supper and Bud asked where she'd like to go, she said, "How about this Steak House that everybody talks about."  And when the missionaries knocked on her door, she invited them in for coffee.
A partial list of Minnie's favorite things would include: sugar cookies, crème brulee, flamingos, and Minnie Mouse.  
Decorating for holidays - any holiday, but mostly Christmas.  
All things Italian, from pasta to Pavarotti.  
Bling.
Golf and bridge: conversational, not competitive.
Gift shops, greeting cards, and finding something absolutely perfect to give to a friend.  
Raising three good kids, and watching them grow into three great adults.  
Dancing, laughter, and being last to leave a really fun party.
Being a nurse, and working in her husband's family doctor office.
Serving Sunday brunch with Belgian waffles made from scratch, and fresh Mimosas; in a dining room filled with good friends who retold the same wonderful stories for the umpteenth time, long into the afternoon or sometimes past twilight.
Cheering for Notre Dame football, and making a few small bets on the Irish (the stakes were always higher when the opponent was BYU). Minnie once paid off Barney Goodwin with an $11 check for a $10 wager. 
The extra buck, she said, was to cover his tithing. And Veneta Gustaveson, of all people, once placed an ad in the personals: "Dear Minnie, Hail Mary, full of Grace, Notre Dame in Second Place!" In later years, Minnie dearly loved the Thursday evening phone call from Lee Durney, her bookie, bringing her the latest point spread on Saturday's game.
And finally, doing something nice for someone who wasn't expecting it.
Minnie worked tirelessly on a variety of projects she believed would make her town, Blackfoot, a better place. To name a few: Jensen's Grove Park, the Hospital Charity Ball, the Christmas Tree Fantasy, the Hundred Mile Bicycle Ride, and the Task Force that brought us the Blackfoot Performing Arts Center. She was honored by several groups, and granted a lifetime membership in the Blackfoot Chamber of Commerce.
Minnie is survived by her husband, Dr. August "Bud" Miller, Jr.; children, Diane Lockhart (Burt), Steve Miller (Heidi), and Craig Miller (Amanda); grandchildren, Elizabeth (Adam), Drew (Jess), Derek, Cetera, Preston, Connor, and Adelyn; great-grandchildren, Meah and Lydia; and sister, Frankie Zavinski.  
Minnie was preceded in death by her father, Frank J. "Flat" Bonavita; mother, Imogene Bonavita; and sister, Susan Chatham.
Minnie requested no funeral service. A celebration of her life will be held at a later date, yet to be determined. No flowers please, and no contributions; however if someday she crosses your mind, do something nice for someone who wasn't expecting it.
With many thanks to Aspen Home Hospice, 1 Assist Care, and to Liz and Chris Riley for your enduring support. Arrangements under the direction of Hawker Funeral Home in Blackfoot.
Published in The Morning News on May 31, 2016
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