Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)


May 24, 2014

Elinor Jeanne McDermott Miller 1926-2014

ASHLAND — Elinor Jeanne McDermott Miller passed from this world Thursday, May 22, 2014, in Versailles.

She was born Nov. 24, 1926, in Huntington, W.Va., the daughter of Patrick Joseph and Marjorie Jackson McDermott.

Upon graduating from St. Joseph’s High School in Huntington, she attended Marshall College where she earned a degree in chemistry. It was in physics class that she met her husband, Charles R. “Charlie” Miller, a World War II veteran of the U.S. Navy, who passed away in 1978. The story of how they met was one of her favorites. After the war there was a shortage of books so the students had to share with the person next to them. They were seated alphabetically so Miss McDermott was seated next to Mr. Miller. The rest was history.

During these years she joined the Civil Air Patrol and learned to pilot small planes. It was also during this period that she became intrigued with photography and had her own darkroom, an interest she kept throughout her life.

 After completing college, she concentrated on family and raising children. The young family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1957, when Charlie was transferred by Ashland Oil. In 1962, they relocated to Ashland. During this period she still made time for photography and working on civic, social, wildlife and environmental issues, church and garden club projects and more. Her motto was that she would be “the rose’s thorn in the side of society.” As her children grew up, she began working at photography full time, first having her own business then working for Ashland Oil as corporate photographer. She finished her career working as a chemist for Ashland, Inc. until her retirement in 1990.  

 Travel was one of Elinor’s many pursuits. She traveled the world, first with Charlie, then with her many friends. A highlight was her month-long trip to Cali, Columbia, in 1994, with Father Jay Von Handorf to help at the Catholic mission. During this trip, ministering to the Hispanic population became another passion. She also remained busy in retirement volunteering at the Greenup County Library and the Commonwealth of Kentucky Library boards and continued being an active member of Holy Family Church. Elinor moved to Lexington in 2010 to be closer to her family.

In addition to her husband and parents, Elinor was predeceased by John Foose, a classmate from elementary school. The pleasure they took in their companionship and travels together was a source of joy to them and to their families.

Elinor is survived by her three children, Christine Donahoe (Patrick) and Michael Miller (Jane) of Lexington, and Matthew Miller of Swansboro, N.C. She leaves four grandchildren, Brennan Donahoe (Annette Manlief), and Charlie, Robbie and Taylor Miller. Robbie, as well as all of those with special needs, held a special place in her heart; great-granddaughter, Emerson Donahoe brought her much joy during her final years.

 Also surviving are her siblings, Mary Catherine Murphy of Deland, Fla., and James McDermott of Wheeling, W.Va.

Her family would like to especially thank Father Jay, who was such a good friend to our mother for so many years, and the folks at Liberty Ridge in Lexington and Taylor Manor in Versailles who took such wonderful care of Elinor during her final years.

Her family and friends will miss Elinor but rejoice in knowing she is dancing again with Charlie to the music of one of heaven’s great swing bands. We will continue to carry her spirit and lessons forward. May each of us continue to grow through life as she did.

A funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 27, 2014, at Holy Family Church in Ashland with the Rev. Jay Von Handorf officiating. Burial will be in Spring Hill Cemetery in Huntington.   

Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, May 26, 2014,  at Steen Funeral Home-Central Avenue Chapel in Ashland.  

In lieu of flowers, donations are requested to the Catholic Diocese of Lexington, Hispanic Ministry Office, The Catholic Center, 1310 W. Main St., Lexington, KY 40508, to be used for the needs of the Hispanic community, such as books in the prison/jails, training for leaders and emergency assistance.

Condolences may be made to steenfuneralhome.com.

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