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Marlene Miller, 1946-2020
Artist, educator, beloved wife
June 9, 2020

arlene Miller and her husband Bob moved to Oriental in 2002. They’d spent 29 years in Wisconsin and wanted to retire someplace warm where they could be on the water. In retirement, Marlene became an accomplished acrylic artist and one of the founding members of the Village Gallery. She loved being outdoors, and being involved in Oriental. “Her being part of the community,” Bob said, “that’s who she was.”

Marlene Kuhn Miller passed away May 13 at her home in Oriental. She was 73.

Marlene was born in Butler, Pennsylvania and attended college at the University of Toledo her freshman year. For her sophomore year, she transferred to West Virginia University. That’s where she met Bob Miller.

Marlene Miller

Bob was a second year grad student. The night they met, Bob had a party to go to and his date cancelled at the last minute. He called up a friend of his and asked her if there was anyone who’d want to go to a party.

Marlene Miller

He was told, “‘Sunshine, across the hall.’ That’s what they called her,” Bob said, “which was her nickname because of her not-so-bright disposition in the morning when she’d get up.”

Marlene went to the party with Bob. Then they started dating.

Within a few years, Bob had graduated and taken a teaching job in a small town near the college while Marlene finished her BS degree in Exceptional Education (eventually earning her MS as well.) “I didn’t want to get too far away from her,” Bob said. “We were getting pretty close.”

Marlene Miller

Three years after they started dating, the pair were married. Marlene told Bob she didn’t want to live in a small town. When he asker her where she wanted to go, she said, “someplace more.”

Bob wrote the Florida Forestry Service “on a lark” and was accepted. Marlene and Bob spent the next three years in Florida, first in Ft. Myers and then in North Miami. At their second Florida location, Marlene took a position working at the Sunland Training Center, working with mentally challenged residents until their next move in 1971.

Marlene Miller

Massachusetts was the next stop. Marlene took on the role of director at a childcare center while Bob went back to school. Two years later in 1973, they moved to Stephens Point, Wisconsin.

They settled in and had a son in 1975. Marlene held a series of positions during their 29 years in Wisconsin. “She would say, ‘You know, after about five, 10 years, I get interested in doing something else.”

Marlene Miller

Marlene worked at an achievement center for infants with disabilities, in the Head-Start program for a multi-county area, as the Education Coordinator for Pediatrics at Marshfield Clinic, and then became the Disabilities Coordinator for Mid-State Technical College.

She and Bob retired together in 2002.

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Before retirement, they’d been looking for somewhere warm to go, a place they could sail. Bob said they saw an ad from Mariner Realty in Sail Magazine, advertising Oriental as the ‘Sailing Capital of North Carolina’. They bought their house here in 2000 and moved in permanently in 2002.

Bob said Marlene had always done crafts and had worked in stained glass for several years in Wisconsin. There was an acrylics class offered at an art store in New Bern.

Marlene Miller

“So we went up there and we both took a class in acrylics. And one of us did a whole lot better than that. And it wasn’t me.”

Marlene had a particular skill in rendering her subjects. “She could paint an animal, a bird or whatever, with an expression that shows some character about the animal. I mean, it didn’t just look like a bird; it looked like a bird with an attitude, you know, or a cat with an attitude kind of thing,” Bob said. “And so she just painted and painted and painted.”

Marlene Miller

Marlene was a founding member of the Village Gallery. She was also involved with the Woman’s Club – serving as president for a time – and the gardening club. She also served on the board of the Oriental Theater and was a member of the Sailing Club of Oriental.

Marlene Miller
Marlene and her granddaughter Riley.

She played with the UHOOs – Oriental’s all ukulele band, and also served as a volunteer Guardian ad Litem for Pamlico County for many years.

Bob and Marlene were regulars at the Silos on Open Mic night and had a reserved table for years.

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“Marlene loved her family, art, music, dancing, and playing her dulcimer and ukulele. She also loved to sail, kayak, fish, garden, and being outdoors.”

Marlene leaves behind her husband Bob Miller, son Casey Miller, daughter-in-law Jessica, and grandchildren Jack and Riley.

There will be a memorial celebrating her life when it is safe for groups to gather.

Marlene Miller

Story by Allison DeWeese.

Posted Tuesday June 9, 2020 by Allison DeWeese

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