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Alice Miller

September 07, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Alice L. Miller, who died Aug. 27 at the age of 83. Her obituary was published in the Aug. 29 edition of The Herald-Mail.

From 1954 to 1998, Alice Miller served as a foster parent for 37 children. She adopted two of those children and called them 'gift.'

By all accounts, Alice Miller was a busy woman all her life - she raised a daughter and four sons, and worked at Rosen's Department Store and later for Sanitary Disposal Inc.

In her spare time, she was a foster parent for 37 children from 1954 to 1998. Two of those children were adopted into her family, including Kevin Miller, now 16, who is a senior in high school.

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"There were always children coming and going at our home," said her oldest son, Jimmy Hose, who was 12 when his mother separated from her first husband, James W. Hose.

Jimmy said he remembers he and his brothers and sister all had chores as did any and all foster children living with them at the time - all were treated equally.

In the late 1950s, Alice met Chester Miller. At the time, they were neighbors in Pinesburg, and Chester already was acquainted with her children.

"Alice started a teen club on her own in her basement," Chester said. "I got involved in that. One thing led to another and we fell in love."

At the time of their marriage in 1965, Chester worked at the former Snow White Grill on South Potomac Street and Alice was at Rosen's.

Chester said that some of the challenges Alice faced in her early years probably set her on the path she followed through life.

"Alice had tuberculosis as a child and was treated at the Victor Cullen Hospital for that," Chester said.

Unable to attend school past the sixth grade, Alice studied at night and earned her high school equivalency diploma in 1968 when she was 44.

Whatever she learned, she taught Chester. Most important, he said, was how to stand on his own two feet.

"She was a self-motivator," Chester said proudly of the accomplishments of his wife of 43 years. "Her faith drove her."

Chester said he and Alice began fostering children as a couple in 1989.

"She loved children and travel," he said. "We always traveled with the children to Florida and New York and other destinations."

Even as they got older, Chester and Alice continued to welcome children of all ages into their home.

"There was always a crib in the house," he said.

Kevin came to them as a foster child at the age of 3 1/2. He was adopted by the couple when he was 6 and continues to live in the Miller home.

"There are no words to describe Alice's years of devotion to children," said Anne Pittman of the Washington County Department of Social Services.

Pittman said both Alice and Chester were wonderful parents who always had the best interests of the children at heart.

"She was a warm, maternal woman," Pittman said.

Alice's son, Roger L. Hose, built the Maugansville-area home his mother and Chester have lived in since 1984.

"There are two dining rooms with the kitchen in the middle to accommodate everyone in the family," Chester said.

In 1968, Alice wrote a poem called "The Twelfth of November," which her daughter-in-law, Sharon Hose, had framed. It was read at Alice's memorial service.

In the poem, she spoke of an early winter storm that blew the autumn leaves from the trees, canceled school and knocked out power for several hours one day 40 years ago.

But her point was that all of the children were safe in the home while candlelight and a coal furnace provided light and warmth.

"These were my gifts, a time truly to remember," Alice's poem said.

Alice shared her gifts with family and friends, but took no credit for her accomplishments, Chester said.

"When her pastor, Randy Buchman of Tri-State Fellowship, would come over to pray with Alice, he would always tell her that she was the best," Chester said.

Even in her failing health, Alice always would respond to that observation of her great worth with the same response - shaking her head to say no.

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