Friday, July 13, 2012

Remembering Charlotte Miller...

We were saddened by the news that Charlotte Miller had died last week.

According to her family, she passed away on Sunday, July 1, 2012, while being transported from her home in Metaline Falls, Washington, to the hospital in nearby Colville.  She was 87 years old.

Charlotte and brother Gerald
“Aunt Charlotte,” as she was known by so many of us, was a product of the tough Depression years.   But we never heard her complain about how tough things were – and they were plenty tough for the Flock family of northeast Nebraska, where she was born and raised.

Charlotte Lavonne was the 12th of 13 children in the family of Lyman and Charlotte “Lottie” Flock.  Born at Loretto in Boone County Nebraska on September 13, 1924, her family moved to nearby Bartlett and eventually to the community of Spalding, Nebraska, where Charlotte began school.

Lyman Flock “did a little bit of everything,” Charlotte once told us.  He worked in the wheat fields, at the Gambles store in Spalding, and on a road repair crew.  Whenever and wherever he could find a job during those early years of the 1930’s, Lyman went to work – including work as caretaker for the cemetery.  Complicating things was Lyman’s health, which took a sharp turn for the worse in 1934. He suffered from “double pneumonia” and kidney failure.  Lyman died on May 7, 1934 at 62 years of age.

His wife, Lottie, was left with little more than several children who needed to be fed and cared for, including their 9-year-old daughter Charlotte, and Gerald, who was the youngest in the family.

Within months, the widow Flock—along with her youngest children, Charlotte and Gerald – moved to Chadron, where her older sister, Mary, and family lived.  Charlotte attended school at both Chadron Prep and the city school system.  And it was in Chadron some years later that she met Fred Miller from nearby Whitney.

They wed on June 2, 1942, but with the United State in the throes of World War II, it was just a matter of a few months that Fred was drafted and was on his way to basic training with the Army Air Corps in California.  Their first child, Jean, was born in Chadron in 1943.  After training in Lincoln, Nebraska, and then Chicago, Illinois, Fred was assigned to installations ranging from Kearns, Utah, and Indianapolis, Indiana, to Fresno and Glendale, California.

Charlotte and Jean were able to join Fred when he was assigned to duty first at Moses Lake, Washington, and later at Ephrata.  Their second child, Pete, was born in nearby Wenatchee in February of 1945, and Fred was discharged from the Army Air Cops nine months later -- on Armistice Day of 1945.

After a short stint back in Chadron after the war, The young Miller family packed up and headed back for Washington, where Charlotte’s mother and other family members were living.  It was the summer of 1947.  While Fred worked at a variety of jobs, two more Miller children were born:  Wayne in 1948 and Charlie in 1950.  Both were born in Ione.

Within a few years, Fred and most of the boys were working at the Lehigh Cement plan in Metaline Falls.  And it’s there that the Millers made their home and raised their family.

Charlotte and Fred were able to watch their children grow, marry, and have families of their own.  Delightfully, the children all have remained in eastern Washington, where they’ve raised their own families.  Watching their children and grandchildren grow up – and then having them near in their later years – was a joy.

From their modest house perched on a hillside overlooking the Pend Oreille Rive at Metaline Falls, Washington, Fred and Charlotte enjoyed the home that they had created for themselves and their descendants in this beautiful region of America.  They camped, fished, celebrated birthdays and enjoyed the fruits of their labors.  The above photograph was taken when Fred and Charlotte celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.  Left-to-right are:  Pete, Charlie, Jean, Fred, Charlotte, and Wayne.  Thanks to Pete Miller for sharing these photos. 

We've added this and a few other photographs of Charlotte, Fred, and the Fred Miller family in our Miller Family Gallery. 

Fred died suddenly in late December of 2005.

And now, almost seven years later, Charlotte will join Fred as her ashes are scattered along the landscape of the Pend Oreille valley.