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Katherine Elizabeth Bryan Miller

July 10, 2010|By MARLO BARNHART
  • Katherine Miller and her 10 children pose for this picture taken last Christmas at Broadmore Assisted Living.
Submitted photo,

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail runs "A Life Remembered." Each story in 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 Katherine Elizabeth Bryan Miller, who died June 28 at the age of 82. Her obituary appeared in the June 30 edition of The Herald-Mail.

WILLIAMSPORT -- At first glance, Katherine and Edward "Catty" Miller weren't too different from many young couples starting out their lives together during the 1940s.

Catty toiled in the construction field and Katherine put in 17 years at the United Way of Washington County and then seven years with the U.S. Census Bureau. Katherine also raised 10 children during those years -- four of them by herself after her husband's death 25 years ago.

"I was the eighth child and I was her favorite," said Patti Mills, now of Roanoke, Va.

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Patti quickly added that her mother made each of her children feel that they were her favorite, too. During a last visit with her at Broadmore Assisted Living, each child took a turn introducing themselves to their mother as her favorite.

David Miller calls himself child No. 6 and son No. 4.

"She loved her family and enjoyed family reunions ... all of them," David said.

Each summer, members of the various branches of the Bryan and Miller families would gather and Katherine never missed them.

"I'm glad she showed me how important family is," David said.

David's wife, Linda, was added to the family from the beginning and later, when her mother died, Katherine took Linda and her siblings into the fold.

"I will always remember how big her heart was," said Aaron Miller, Katherine's 10th and last child. Aaron was 12 when his father died, one of four children still at home.

"She filled the father role ... baseball, Scouts, dates, first jobs," Aaron said.

Eddie Miller was the fourth oldest child and he said his most vivid memories center around the dining room table that always was laden with good food and good conversation.

"There was always a little extra if someone just showed up," Eddie said.

Carolyn Hardt was the second child and first daughter.

"My earliest memories were that there was always a crib in mom's bedroom," she said.

Katherine had her first child, Vaughn, when she was 20 and her 10th child, Aaron, when she was 45.

"It was difficult getting alone time with mom, but she did her best to be there for each of us," Carolyn said. "Sometimes, she'd call us the wrong name, but we still joke about that."

Kathy Himes, the third daughter and seventh child, keenly remembers her mother finding the time to sew a lot of her clothes and also doll clothes when she was young.

Despite the age difference between the 10 siblings, Carolyn said the family always has made an effort to keep close, especially when Katherine's health was declining.

"We'd try to get together about once a month," Carolyn said. And for holidays, a calendar was developed so each was handled by a different sibling so all could gather together.

"It's a longtime tradition," Carolyn said.

Katherine's brother, Harry Bryan, remembers growing up with his sister, who was four years older.

"There were six of us and then our parents raised two nephews, too," Harry said.

The Bryan family grew up in Pinesburg, where Katherine and Harry attended a two-room school.

"Katherine was always playing the piano and she learned it by ear," Harry said. "We'd gather around and sing -- family and friends, too."

Teresa Koons said her mother always had time for her, whether it was to listen or to provide a shoulder to cry on.

"Though there were 10 of us, she knew we were all different," Teresa said.

And that didn't stop with her children, son Bryan Miller said. The fifth oldest, Bryan said his mother reveled in the joy of grandchildren, too.

"They called her grandma," he said. "She came to their events and they visited her at home."

Son Mark Miller was the ninth child and he said he always will remember how his mother made everyone's birthday special.

"We didn't have a lot, but mom always let us pick the dinner we wanted on our birthday," Mark said.

As the oldest child, Vaughn Miller said he recalls that their father was away at work a lot, so his mother was the day-to-day disciplinarian.

"She dished it out with a fly swatter," he said, noting that it made a lot more noise than impact on the child being scolded.

"Our house always attracted a lot of kids in addition to us," Vaughn said.

When commenting on his mother, Aaron said he believes she would have said she hadn't done anything to deserve such a tribute. The consensus from all 10 of Katherine's children seems to disagree with that.

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