Editor’s Note: This is the first of what will hopefully be a monthly feature recognizing folks in our community who quietly go about their way, contributing to our community in the process. Karen Miller was nominated by her daughter Jamie Hynes for her dedication and selflessness in her service of others
OXFORD — Karen Miller, 61, of Oxford has dedicated a majority of her adult life caring and in service of others. Some in her community and another in her home.
Miller lives next door to the house she grew up in where her mother still resides. Her memories are warm and happy thinking about her childhood in Oxford. She grew up in a loving home with two hardworking parents and two siblings.
Miller met her husband, Rick, while traveling in Japan where he was stationed as a Marine. The two of them settled here in Oxford Hills living in Poland for a time. It was during this time that her husband was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and his health started to slowly decline.
While caring for her husband, Miller was a mother to their only child, Jamie, along with all the responsibilities that come with running a household. During the earlier years after her husband’s diagnosis, he was able to have some independence with the aid of a wheelchair for about 10 years. It was at this time Miller volunteered at Oxford Elementary School for some eight years.
As her husband’s health worsened, he lost his sight, his hearing and the ability to communicate well. They decided to build a home in 1989 beside Miller’s parent’s house. This allowed Miller to stay home and care for her husband as only she knew she could do. “He was happy. He never complained.”
Miller was able to leave the house for some time each week with the help of the veteran’s hospital. They sent out a caregiver every week to care for her husband. Miller also had the help of a close friend who was willing to learn all of the equipment that her husband needed for his constant care.
She was emotionally supported by her family and her best friend, Bunny. “Bunny was my rock. She has supported me through everything for about 35 years. We talk every single day, even when she is in Florida for the winter.”
With that free time, Miller often volunteered at the Oxford Helping Hands Food Pantry and the Stephens Memorial Hospital Thrift Store in Norway both of which she still volunteers at currently. Passionate about her work, Miller said, “I love my volunteer work! I enjoy meeting and talking with the people that come in and the folks I volunteer with.”
Miller continued to care for her husband until his death in September of 2017 and now dedicates her time to her volunteer work and her four grandchildren whom she adores.
Miller said of her late husband, “He never, ever gave up right up until his very last breath. I thanked him for letting me take care of him. It was such an honor.”