Friday, June 5, 2009
A uniquely creative, energetic and optimistic individual
Ellen J. Miller, 76, of Indian Hill Road, a resident of Carlisle since 1994, passed away on May 26 after a valiant battle with kidney cancer. For 27 years, Ellen was a senior administrator at Harvard Law School. She was the Feature Editor for the Carlisle Mosquito newspaper at the time of her death. Ellen was also the author or co-author of five books: Video – a Guide for Lawyers; All this Reading: The Literary World of Barbara Pym; Images of America: Carlisle; and The Window Shop – Safe Harbor for Refugees. She founded the Barbara Pym Society of North America, which meets each year in Cambridge, and had been an active member of the Carlisle Historical Society.
Ellen, the daughter of Richard and Susanna Joachim, was born in Germany in 1933. When she was six months old, the family, living under the Hitler regime, fled to Amsterdam. As Hitler threatened Holland with the Holocaust, the family moved to America in 1936, settling in Auburn, New York, where Ellen’s father set up his medical practice. After graduating from the University of Rochester in 1955, Ellen earned a Master’s Degree in Television at Syracuse University and worked as a television producer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. With a move to the Boston area in 1973, she joined the Harvard Law School, along with her then-husband, Professor Arthur Miller. At the Law School, she created and organized a new Department of Media Services and served as Director of Education Technology and Director of Administrative Publications.
In her early years at the Mosquito Ellen took over the Carlisle Oral History Project, interviewing people who made special contributions to the community (all are available at the Gleason Public Library and on the Carlisle Mosquito web site). She wrote many interesting feature articles as well, including “Valleyhead: 50 years of healing on South Street” (February 6, 2004), “A wrenching visit to Auschwitz” (October 14, 2005), and “Mother’s Day Memories” (May 11, 2007). Ellen was a member of the Forum staff from 2001 until she became an editor in 2006, and then wrote editorials every third week.
As a member of the Carlisle Historical Society, Ellen served on the board, led guided tours of historic Heald House, arranged programs of historical interest, and wrote the semi-annual Historical Society newsletter.
On May 7, 2007, Ellen and her co-authors of the book The Window Shop – Safe Harbor for Refugees spoke at the Gleason Public Library. The book celebrates The Window Shop, founded in 1939 on Brattle Street in Cambridge to help women refugees arriving from Germany and Austria. The evening’s program was televised on CCTV and is available on DVD from the library.
Ellen’s second husband, Bill Houssell, died in 2000. She is survived by her son, Matthew Miller, her daughter-in-law, Nicole Miller, and grandchildren, Alex Miller and Rachael Miller, of Woodside, California. She will be remembered by her many friends as uniquely energetic, optimistic and hard working. Ellen was a mixture of creativity and practical sensibility. She could get down on her knees and play make-believe with her grandchildren, or command an audience of educated historians.
She was a competitive Scrabble player, although she claimed her national ranking was “dismally low.” Ellen enjoyed each day that she lived to the fullest, whether starting new projects or traveling the world, teaching us all that we only have the day before us to live. Just last fall, she traveled to Russia and Eastern Europe. Among the many adventures of her life, the trip that was most memorable to her was traveling to Germany and finding the names of all her relatives who were not as fortunate as she had been to escape the sad fate of so many Europeans caught up in World War II.
A memorial service will be held at a later date. Donations in Ellen Miller’s name may be made to the American Cancer Society at Cancer.org.
Carlisle students honored at CCHS awards ceremonies
Abel, Victoria - Boston Globe Scholastic Art Award
© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito