Shirlee Miller

September 23, 2020


Shirlee Mae Miller, aka Grandma Squirrely Miller, born March 22, 1927 and passed away on Sept 23, 2020. Shirlee was born to doting parents, Lillian, a woman who could prepare a lobster dinner for surprise guests, and Minnesota state legislator and liquor store owner, Alfred Otto (DFL). They only let her have one roller skate, a fact she bemoaned until the end. Highlights from her early life: Shirlee sang at jazz clubs and taught dance at Arthur Murray. She was secretary to the president of Schmidt brewery, a job she got after pretending she could use the company’s new-fangled, bigger-than-a-living room printer. After everyone went home for the day she figured it out and became a roaring success. At twenty-four she married ad man, Loren Miller, a promising guy who became a raging alcoholic. Shirlee was a reluctant housewife of the 1950’s, not often interested in cooking or cleaning. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, after working all day, she made us a “goddamn roast” when she felt compelled, and it almost never turned out.  Often, she’d suggest deli as an alternative. “I got some of that good potato salad.” She gave birth to three children and made coffee for everyone in the neighborhood multiple times a day. She was still offering to make a cup of coffee for visitors until the end, even when she couldn’t stand. Shirlee will be remembered for her unsurpassed ability to love unconditionally, even though many of us could have sometimes used conditions. Although she insisted her whole life that she had no talent (while marveling at everything her family did), Shirlee was smart, funny, and rumor has it that she was valedictorian of her high school class. All of her children and grandchildren carry her humor, irreverence, and democratic values. She loved coffee, cigarettes (which she quit frequently), cocktails with her girlfriends who called her Rose (Golden Girls), and her family. She hated every haircut she ever had. 

She is survived by her children, Maridee Tschida (Brian), David Miller, Lori Miller; grandchildren Samantha Tschida (Terrell), Colin Tschida (Katie), and Paula Nystrom (Juan) and Paula’s mom, Jody, who was always there for her. She also was the proud great grandmother to Lila, Daphne, Silas, Dagny, Otto, Murray and baby-to-be, Lilith. She was predeceased by her loving parents and sisters, her once-promising alcoholic husband, a million animals she never wanted but fed anyways, and her loyal dog, Curly. We love you Grandma Shirlee. Thank you for the values you instilled in us all, the amazing love, acceptance and respect you showed to each of us and others.  We all understand why there was a Shirlee Miller fan club at your assisted living. We are lucky to be your family.

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