Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Remembering Pauline (Miller) Pollock Murray

Pauline (Miller) Pollock Murray
Age 16

It’s been nearly four years since we lost aunt Pauline Pollock Murray.  She died June 8, 2007 at Port Arthur, Texas.  She had lived in nearby Vidor, Texas, most of her life and reportedly never overcame an ear infection and a subsequent case of pneumonia when she died at age 79.

Pauline Louise Miller was the tenth of eleven children born to German-Russian immigrants Peter and Dora Miller, who had moved to Whitney, Nebraska in 1927 from the Scottsbluff area.  Pauline was born on October 19th of that year, and she was the first of only two Miller children born in Whitney.  Younger sister Evelyn was born about three years later. 

As is true for most of the Miller family, little information remains about their years in the small Dawes County community of Whitney.  Pete and Dora Miller moved several times after they met and married in Longmont, Colorado in 1909.  Their residences included Chicago, Illinois; Watertown, South Dakota; Bayard, Nebraska; Scottsbluff, Nebraska, and perhaps another place or two in the North Platte River valley region around Scottsbluff.  They were among several German-Russian families from "the valley" to move to the Whitney area after creation of Whitney Dam and the irrigation district that brought new opportunities to the region.

The old Whitney School was built in 1922
Pauline was 12 years old when she participated in a Whitney Grade School operetta entitled “The Golden Whistle,” in which she portrayed the Fairy Queen.  It was performed in the Whitney School on March 15, 1940. Interestingly, the building in which that operetta took place still stands – but its future appears bleak.  The adjacent newer Whitney School will close permanently at the end of this school year, marking the first time in 125 years that there's been no school in Whitney.  The Chadron Board of Education, which now governs all public schools in the county, intends to sell off the property. Rumors have abounded for years that the “old” Whitney School – shown here – would be torn down.  That prospect now appears imminent. 

Bertha and Pauline
By the way, you'll find a picture of Pauline as the Fairy Queen, along with several other photos of Pauline and other Miller family ancestors/descendants, in the Miller Family Gallery.  

As she approached her teen years, Pauline wanted to go to Texas, where her older sister Bertha had gone some years earlier.  One family story says that Pauline's mother was reluctant and unwilling to allow her young daughter to make the trek, but that older sister Bertha suggested to Pauline that she simply cry while asking Grandma Miller for permission to go.  It apparently worked!   

After making the move to Texas, Pauline met and then, in 1948, married Olen Pollock.  They would have four children – Paulette, Mike, Sharon, and Linda.  All of the children and their families have remained in Texas.

Of all the children of Pete and Dora Miller, we doubt that any were any more a person of faith than Pauline.  As with most families, the Pollocks certainly had challenging, rewarding, sorrowful and joyful times.    It was revealing to me that after her divorce from Olen, they both found a civility with one another that served the family well.  

But good fortune smiled upon Pauline and she married again – to Mitchell Murray, who had grown up in Louisiana.  Like Pauline, he also had four grown children.  Mitch and Pauline wed in February 1971 at Vidor and made there home there for many years.   

After Mitch passed away in 1997,  Pauline remained in their home for a while, but eventually moved to a nice retirement complex on the edge of Vidor.

This photograph of Pauline and her children was taken in May 2000.
Standing left to right are Linda, Mike, Sharon, and Paulette.
Shortly after aunt Pauline passed away in 2007, we wrote the following:

“I believe it was her strength of character and Christian faith that kept the family close. She told me after Mitch died, that she found great solace and joy in having her children near and so supportive of her and -- just as importantly -- one another. They have helped each other through good times and bad, and they were there for their mother as she ended her stay on earth.”

Grandma Miller was surely looking down and saying, "Well done, my loving daughter."