Meadville Tribune

Obituaries (Archives)

August 1, 2013

Dorothy Brennen Miller

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Dorothy Brennen Miller died peacefully on July 24, 2013 in Rochester, N.Y., where she had been a resident at the Episcopal Church Home since 2009. She was 95 years old.

Born in Gardnerville, Nev., on May 5, 1918, Dorothy was the daughter of Dr. William H. and Marie A. (Black) Brennen (later Jensen). She lived most of her life in Meadville before moving to Rochester to be close to her daughter.

A 1939 graduate of Allegheny College, Dorothy received her Masters Degree in Theater Arts from the University of Iowa a year later. While a student at Allegheny, Dorothy participated in the Civil Pilot Training Program and received her pilot’s license in 1940. It was at the Meadville Airport that she met her husband, Franklin M. Miller, an avid private pilot. Married in 1941, Dorothy and Franklin shared many adventures and a wonderful life together for nearly 60 years before he died in February 2001.

Mrs. Miller taught English at Meadville Area Senior High School for 24 years. She started the Drama program, served as chair of the English Department and introduced the Advanced Placement Program in English to MASH in the early 1960s. Teaching was her great passion, and she influenced the lives of many students, prodding them to do more than they thought they could and encouraging them to think and write clearly. She was proud to have conceived and produced the combined community, high school, college production of Rogers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma,” which inaugurated the opening of the new senior high school building in 1962.

Dorothy received a John Hay Whitney Fellowship to attend the Institute of the Humanities at the University of Oregon during the summer of 1964. She was awarded a Fulbright Grant that supported an exchange of English teachers for the 1967-68 academic year between MASH and the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, a college preparatory school in Penrith, England.

Throughout her life, Dorothy was involved in many Meadville organizations, serving on the Board of Directors for the Meadville Medical Center, the Hillside Home and the Keystone Construction Company, a Meadville firm led by her husband. In 2007 Dorothy received the Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the Northwestern Pennsylvania chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, a testament to her commitment to the Meadville community.

She was an active member and long-time supporter of the Meadville Unitarian Church, and contributed for many years and in many ways to her alma mater, Allegheny College. In the 1940s Dorothy was one of the founders of The Valley Players and remained an active participant in that community theater group throughout the 1950s. She was a long-time member of the Women’s Literary Club, the Meadville Medical Center Auxiliary, and the Hilltop Garden Club.

One of Dorothy’s great joys was traveling — by land, water or air — and in her lifetime she visited every continent on the globe except Antarctica. With Dorothy serving as navigator, she and Franklin flew his Beechcraft Bonanza across the country many times and as far a field as Cuba and Haiti. They piloted their own boats on many bodies of water including the Great Lakes, the New York Barge Canal and waterways of Florida and Canada.

Dorothy is survived by her two children, Dr. Lohring S. Miller of Springfield, Ore., and Danica (Miller) Eskind of Rochester, N.Y.; her sister, Caroline (Brennen) Ameden; five grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; sisters-in-law, Shirley Anne (Miller) Wermund and Alice (Kruska) Miller; a niece; nine nephews; and several great-nieces and great-nephews.

The family suggests any memorials be given to a charity of your choice.

If you knew Dorothy Miller, wear something red this week (or orange, yellow, purple, turquoise, green or any other bright, distinctive color) and share your memories.

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