Mary Juanita Miller (nee Berry), age 89, of Sugar Loaf Senior Living, passed away peacefully in her home on Thursday, November 29, 2012, after losing her final battle with pneumonia. Mary was born on May 27, 1923, in Whitesville, Kentucky, as the seventh of ten children on the family homestead. After excelling in high school and driven to explore the world, Mary moved to Michigan.
Determined to contribute to the needs of her country, Mary began building bombers for the war effort and spooning ice cream for the GI’s at the neighborhood diner. Mary continued her college education in secretarial science while working for the Veterans Administration after the war.
An avid ballroom dancer, Mary met Edward Alexander Miller of Detroit, and the two were married in the spring of 1952, settling in the Detroit suburb of Wayne, Mich., her home for the next 35 years. Active in the Catholic church, scouting and youth sports, Mary and Ed traveled extensively across America, staying close to their families and their legions of friends. Mary was an avid seamstress and dressmaker, bedecking her daughters in the latest fashions and tickling everyone’s taste buds with her down home cooking.
Subsequent to her husband’s death 31 years ago, Mary moved to the Twin Cities in 1987 to take on her new role of nanny to her three eldest grandsons. Committed to her task, Mary followed her grandchildren to Winona in 1991.
Mary is survived by her daughters; Nancy and her husband, Rick Schwein, and Cindy Rice of Winona, Minn., and her dear sister-in-law, Jane Berry of Tampa, Fla. Mary’s four grandsons include Scott (Jenny) Schwein of Minnetonka, Minn., Matt (Kayla) Schwein of Edina, Minn., Jeff Schwein of Edina, Minn., and Brandon Rice of Winona, Minn. Squealing with joy, Mary recently welcomed her great-grandchildren, Lucy Nicole, seven- months (Scott and Jenny) and Charles Lawrence, one- month (Matt and Kayla). Twenty-two surviving nieces and nephews are scattered across America.
Mary was preceded in death by her parents, Elmer Lee and Zita Theresa Berry, her siblings, Jessie Lee, Jeremiah, Wilson, John, Lewis, Charles, Robert, Carl and James Clifton. Outliving nearly all of her family and friends, Mary regaled all in earshot of her earlier exploits and continued to cherish life and entertain all around her with her spirited nature. Always up for a challenge, Mary was in constant search for a card or board game of any sort. Active to the end, Mary spent her days coloring portraits for her great-grandchildren.
Mass of Christian Burial will be 10:30 AM, Wednesday, December 5th, 2012 at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart Church, Winona, with Msgr. Roy Literski officiating. Interment will be at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Winona. Visitation for family and friends will be held 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., Tuesday, December 4, 2012, at Fawcett Junker Funeral Home, Winona, with the recitation of the rosary at 7:30 p.m. A visitation will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the church on Wednesday.
In lieu of flowers, memorials for Mary may be directed toward Our Lady of the Snows, Belleville, Ill., or toward assisting World Vision’s efforts to provide life sustaining farm animals to families in Africa.
Words of sympathy or remembrance may be left at www.fawcett-junkerfuneralhome.com. Services entrusted to Fawcett-Junker Funeral Home and Cremation Service, Winona.