Carolyn Rae Miller, 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 by a campfire or at a Seattle Opera gala, she taught by example that every meal is a chance to connect.
Born in Sequim, WA, May 18, 1928, she was the third daughter of Ira and Ida Fritz. Her immigrant forebears had rowed to Sequim Bay, climbing to the forks of the Dungeness River to homestead in 1891. A clearing and cabins at the headwaters of Dean Creek were Carolyn’s spiritual home.
Upon graduating from Bremerton High School in 1946, Carolyn enrolled at Montana State University, pledging 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 finishing his BS in mining engineering.
Carolyn and Roger married September 9th, 1950, at Bremerton, creating a 62-year union inspiring for its warmth and shared service to others.
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 up a trail on horseback. Next stop, Gouverneur, NY, followed by a mining camp above Healdsburg, CA and then Memphis. They had had a son (or two) at each stop.
Every summer, she returned to the Fritz homestead to backpack, dig clams, make wild berry jam and turn her boys loose in the woods with their cousins. Often she drove the whole way solo: thousands of miles, navigating with maps.
In 1965, they moved to Vermont, where she hiked, skied, studied art history and taught weaving. At the Church of Christ in Hanover, NH, she was active for more than 20 years in leadership and bible study.
Active in Republican politics, she recruited and trained women candidates and worked to keep the ERA in the GOP platform. She managed Richard Snelling’s successful campaign for governor, but lost two races of her own, 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, Seattle Art Museum and to a quiet cabin on Sequim Bay and the mountain home her father built. At their place on Murden Cove, rarely a week passed without overnight guests. When Roger died in 2012, she was buoyed by her remarkable community of friends. She died in the home she loved, with son Brad holding her hand as the light faded from Mount Rainier and the cove she loved.
She is survived by sons Matthew (Mia) of Portland, OR; Todd (Deanna) of Boise, ID; Bradford (Rebecca) of Port Townsend, WA; Kirk (Donna) of Helena, MT; and Dean (Tracie) also of the Olympic Peninsula; 12 grandchildren, and 7 great-grandchildren, beloved nieces and nephews and dozens of “adopted” daughters and sons.
She was preceded in death by her husband Roger, by her parents Ira and Ida Fritz and by her sisters Irene Conca and Dorothy Eck.
In recognition of sensible COVID precautions, no public memorial service is planned at this time. Gifts in her name may be made to Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church’s flower account, to ophthalmology research or to clean water systems in the developing world.