Bainbridge Island, WA – Carolyn Rae Miller, an active citizen and matriarch of a large and loving family, died at the age of 93 on December 16, 2021, of natural causes. Equally at home in front of a campfire or at a Seattle Opera gala, she taught by example that every meal is a chance to connect.
Born in Sequim, WA on May 18, 1928, she was the third daughter of Ira and Ida Fritz. Her immigrant ancestors had rowed to Sequim Bay, climbing the forks of the Dungeness River to the farm in 1891. A glade and cabins at the headwaters of Dean Creek were Carolyn’s spiritual home.
After graduating from Bremerton High School in 1946, Carolyn enrolled at Montana State University, promising Pi Beta Phi and skiing Bridger Bowl until she transferred to the University of Washington two years later. There she met Lt. Roger Miller, a WWII naval aviator, completing his BS in mining engineering.
Carolyn and Roger were married on September 9, 1950 in Bremerton, creating a 62-year union inspiring for its warmth and shared service to others.
The first stop in a life of seven moves was Omak, WA, where she was a social worker and Roger ran a tungsten mine 22 miles away on a horseback trail. Next stop, Gouverneur, NY, followed by a mining camp above Healdsburg, CA, then Memphis. They had had a son (or two) at each stop.
Every summer, she returned to the Fritz farm to backpack, dig clams, make wild berry jam, and let her boys loose in the woods with their cousins. Often, she made the whole trip alone: thousands of kilometers, navigating with maps.
In 1965, they moved to Vermont, where she hiked, skied, studied art history and taught weaving. At Church of Christ in Hanover, NH, she has been active for over 20 years in leadership and Bible study.
Active in Republican politics, she recruited and trained women candidates and worked to keep the ERA on the GOP platform as an RNC delegate. She led Richard Snelling’s successful campaign for governor, but lost two races, the last by six votes. In recent years, she said her party left her and she donated to Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
Nest emptied, Carolyn and Roger left Vermont in 1990 to retire on Bainbridge Island, where she reveled in easy trips to the symphony, opera, ballet, the art museum of Seattle and a quiet cabin on Sequim Bay and the mountain house his father built.
At their home in Murden Cove, hardly a week went by without overnight guests. When Roger passed away in 2012, she was carried by his remarkable community of friends. She died in the home she loved, her son Brad holding her hand as the light faded from Mount Rainier and the creek.
She is survived by her sons Matthew (Mia) of Portland, OR; Todd (Deanna) of Boise, ID; Bradford (Rebecca) of Port Townsend, WA; Kirk (Donna) of Helena, Montana; and Dean (Tracie) also from the Olympic Peninsula; 12 beloved grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews and dozens of “adopted” daughters and sons.
She was predeceased by her husband Roger, by her parents Ira and Ida Fritz and by her sisters Irene Conca and Dorothy Eck.
In recognition of reasonable COVID precautions, no public memorial services are planned at this time. Donations in his name may be made for the Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church flower account, for eye research, or to clean up accessible water systems in developing countries.
Published by Valley News on March 6, 2022.