Kathryn (“Katie”) Miller,
at the age of 90 in Vernon B.C.
Katie was the youngest of seven children born into a family that travelled across Canada in the 1920’s at the direction of her father William “Willie” Davidson. During a part of that westward journey by the family Katie was born on a farm near in Provost Alberta. The farm was isolated and the task of registering the birth was delayed and sometime subsequently fell to a hired hand who managed to get both the spelling of her name and the birth date wrong. This lead to confusion about the actual day of her birth, a fact that she would sometimes exploit to choose a day in June that suited her for the celebration of her birthday.
The family’s journey ended in Vancouver where growing up in the depression was not easy. The family benefited from the contribution of her mother Josephine and her brothers and sisters: Marion, George, Ken, Walter, Eileen and Jack. Her older sister Marion was given responsibility for the younger children, including Katie, and she proved to be an excellent guide.
Katie attended Lord Byng High School and excelled at sports. Swimming and diving were particular favourites and she competed in platform diving, eventually winning a place to represent Canada at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Sadly, she couldn’t afford the cost to travel to Europe and world events erased further opportunities to compete at this level.
With war looming, Katie married her high school sweetheart, Norman Spencer, who signed up and went overseas as a pilot. He was listed as missing in action following a flight to France and, like many of his generation, he did not return.
Katie loved music and dancing and told of weekend excursions to Bowen Island for dances. It was on an excursion to Comox after the war ended that she caught the eye of another handsome pilot, James (Dusty) Miller, a farm boy from Saskatchewan who had spent his war years flying in Europe, India and China with the RAF and RCAF. Dusty and Katie were married in Toronto. Dusty stayed an active pilot in the RCAF serving with 435 and 436 transport squadrons. They moved many times during his air force career – to places such as Centralia, Claresholm, Barrie, Edmonton, Toronto and Ottawa. As a result they made many enduring life-long friends.
Katie and Dusty eventually retired to a home they built by themselves in the Coldstream Valley near Vernon B.C. She was happiest when she was making others happy. Their house was a centre of hospitality and Katie produced wonderful meals for family and friends that were often served outside poolside. Her love of singing was re-kindled in Vernon through her involvement with the Sweet Adeline’s singing group. Singing gave her wings, and even in her final days the songs she sang with others and by herself provided comfort and set her free.
Dusty pre-deceased Katie in 1991 but she is survived by her three sons, Jamie (and Elizabeth Kozub -Vernon), Rusty (and Patti McCunn-Miller – Calgary) and John (and Karen Miller – Calgary). She is also survived by her extraordinary care giver Nicky Johnson and her four legged best friend and companion Patty. She also has four beautiful grandchildren – Birch, Katie, Allie, Tyler and many nieces and nephews (including Elizabeth, Marion, Kathryn, Marie, Susan, Val and others .Also an extended family of special friends including Leanne, Laura, Grace, Helen, Jimmy and Darlene Kicey and Jack and Gwen Hairsine.
Katie was loved by many and will be missed by all. She was a special person with a welcoming smile and an easy laugh.
A remembrance of Katie’s life will be held Saturday June 25, 2:00pm to 5:00pm in The Fireside Lounge, at the Views Coldstream Meadows. Please call 250-275-4963 if you have questions. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the North Okanagan Hospice Society, a special place where she spent her final days.