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Paula Cornwell Miles


1942 - 2019
Paula Cornwell Miles Notice
Paula Cornwell Miles
Paula C. Miles, 76, of Oakmont in Santa Rosa, passed away unexpectedly on March 6, 2019, six months after her husband, Herbert E. Christensen, had passed on. She was born on May 22, 1942 in Painesville, Ohio as the first child of a country doctor and his wife and had a mostly idyllic childhood. Paula distinguished herself early on as a person who, once she decided on a course of action, threw herself into it, from being a drum majorette in high school to helping her dad in his medical practice. She stayed in Ohio long enough to attend Hiram College, earning a BA in biology in 1964, but it was soon evident that although she was a "Buckeye Born and Bred," she was not destined to remain in Ohio. Upon graduation she volunteered for the Peace Corps and committed to two tours in Afghanistan. She made lifelong friends there.
Afterwards she travelled throughout Europe on her Peace Corps pay and later taught high school biology in international schools in London, England and Sao Paulo Brazil. Paula met her first husband at that time and they both attended Louisiana State University, where she earned an MS in Nutrition. Then it was back to Europe where she taught at an international school in Geneva and, also, by the way, restored a 200 plus year old farmhouse in the French countryside.
The next and best chapter in her life began when she went to work as a scientist at the United Nations Environmental Programme and there met the person who became the love of her life, Herb Christensen, who also worked there. These years were filled with love, fun, adventure, intellectual challenges, and international travel. After a few years they returned to Washington DC, and Paula went to work for the US Environmental Protection Agency for nearly a decade. Even then though, she was able to pursue one of her passions by earning a diploma and an award from L'Academie de Cuisine in Washington DC for her exemplary skill in cooking.
Paula and Herb retired to Florida, and moved to a home with a dock on the Inland Waterway, so they bought and refurbished a sailboat, and helped start the Stuart Florida Yacht Club. There they resumed their pursuit of travel, adventure and fun, but also ballroom dancing, gardening, yoga, and her latest passion, watercolor painting. She became an accomplished watercolorist at this time.
In 2006, she and Herb moved to Oakmont California and continued many of these activities. They also were able to host get-togethers with their families living on the west coast. She joined the Oakmont Democratic Club where she worked hard with her neighbors and friends to help Barak Obama's candidacy, developing a phone bank that reached out to voters across the country.
Her last major effort was to care for her husband Herb in his last years. She worked very hard to help him enjoy their last years together. Grief at his passing undoubtedly contributed to her own heart failure.
She is survived by her brother, Tom Miles, sister Margaret Miles, as well as two nieces, Amie and Kathryn Miles; step-daughters Carla, Paula, Candy, Lucy and Laura Christensen; plus six grandchildren, Paul, Jackie, Erica, Heather, Stanley and Marion; and five great-grandchildren.
Paula Miles enjoyed life to the fullest, most of it passionately. The family will gather for a celebration in Ferndale, where she will be interred, on Memorial Weekend, a holiday cherished by both Paula and Herb.
Published Online in the Press Democrat on May 26, 2019
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