Obituary: Jean Abigail (Hill) Miller
Following a quite unexpected and brief illness, Jean Abigail (Hill) Miller, age 87, made the final ascent to the mountains beyond on the sunlit autumn afternoon of September 7, 2016. She died of pneumonia, entering this final stage as she approached her entire life, with unparalleled grace and dignity.
Jean was born on March 9, 1929 to Kenneth and Ethel Hill in Denver. She graduated from South High School, followed by the University of Denver, where she was Phi Beta Kappa and a member of the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women. Accepted to Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago, she chose instead to have a family, as it was difficult at that time to be both a physician and a mother. She married Dwight Dean Miller on April 7, 1951 and moved to the Colorado mountains to run Miller’s Idlewild Inn. Together they built Ski Idlewild in 1958. They had four children and many wonderful dogs. Jean’s life was defined by her great passions: her family, nature, exercise, service to her community faith, and intellectual pursuits. She was a loyal and supportive wife, and by necessity, was patient and had a good sense of humor. As a mother, she encouraged her children’s passions, and modeled for them pride in work, love for each other, loyalty, and responsibility. Her walking over hill and dale was renowned, and continued to the week before she died, when she won her division in a 10K trail race in Massachusetts. Her service to the County is legendary and included many, many years on the East Grand School District Board of Education, the Grand County Library Board, the Grand County Historical Association Board, and 60 years as the Church of the Eternal Hills organist and pianist, including many years as choir director. Jean was also an avid volunteer for National Public Lands Day. Throughout her life Jean was a champion of women’s rights (including equal pay for equal work) and was a staunch defender of the environment. Her friends were many and varied and reflected both her interests and her very finest qualities. Her intellect was formidable and intact until the very end. Most recently she enjoyed the local writers’ group, a weekly theological discussion at Church, the piano club and writing for the GCHA Journal. Jean’s overarching philosophy was to be useful and make the world a better place; in this regard, she was a force of nature.
Jean survived her intrepid husband, Dwight Miller (1928-2012), and in turn is survived by her children Martha and her husband Bill Johnson (Tucson, AZ), James and his wife Liza (Boulder, CO), Jack and his wife Jeannie (Grand Junction, CO), Sarah and her partner Ray Vesty (Oxford, MA). Jean had nine grandchildren and one great grandchild: Katherine Graves and her husband Ryan, Jamie Coleman and her husband Aaron, Sean Graves, Michael Miller, John Miller, Henry Miller, Rebecca Rulnick, Victoria Rulnick, Patrick Miller, and Macayle Grimes. Jean leaves her beloved dog Boots, and many, many friends.
A memorial service will be held at the Church of the Eternal Hills in Tabernash at 11 a.m., October 1. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to The Grand County Historical Association, P.O Box 165, Hot Sulphur Springs, CO 80451; The Church of the Eternal Hills, P.O. Box 300, Tabernash, CO 80478; or the Grand County Animal Control – Pet Pals Program, P.O. Box 1972, Granby, CO, 80446
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