Beverly Jean Miller

Beverly Jean Miller

A Life Fully Lived

Beverly Jean (McConnell) Miller passed away on December 2nd from complications due to Alzheimer’s disease.  She was 72.  Beverly was born in Vale, Oregon, to Hugh Alexander and Ruth Elizabeth (Shaw) McConnell.  She and her brothers, Wayne and John, lived on the family farm until they moved to Salem, Oregon.  Beverly graduated from South Salem High School and received a BS in social science and English from the University of Oregon.  At the UofO she met William (Bill) Miller, and they were married after their graduation.

Over their nearly 50 year marriage, Beverly enjoyed a variety of careers as the family moved within the US.  She began teaching junior high school in Oak Harbor, WA, and later taught in Champaign, IL, and Tucson, AZ.  While in Tucson their first son, Britt Alexander, was born.  After moving to Manhattan, KS, their second son, David Allen, was born.  Beverly received a MS in journalism from Kansas State University, and then worked as a reporter and the Lifestyle Editor at the Manhattan Mercury.  She received a number of state and national communication awards for her work.  Beverly became Project Manager of the Kansas Safety Belt Education Office, a federally funded statewide safety project housed in the extension services of Kansas State.

In moving to Salt Lake City Beverly volunteered for the congressional campaign of Karen Shepard, and when Karen was elected to the US House of Representatives, she became a member of the congresswoman’s staff.  For a decade Beverly served as Executive Director of the Utah Clean Cities Coalition, a federally funded advocacy voice and organization promoting alternative fuel vehicles and the reduction of fossil fuel usage.  The National Clean Cities Coalition awarded Beverly numerous prestigious awards, including being named the first “Outstanding Clean Cities Coordinator of the Year”.  For several years she could be seen driving around Salt Lake in her Honda Civic wrapped in an image of the city with the words “Cleanest Vehicle on Earth” emblazoned across it.

Beverly’s mother, Ruth, provided a strong example to her for be actively engaged in her community.  An activist by nature, Beverly served on the board of trustees of the Utah Heritage Foundation (now Preservation Utah) and the Literacy Action Center, and was involved with the Utah chapter of the Association of Women in Communication, and the Utah Women’s Alliance for Building Community, among other community organizations.

Her sons, Britt and David provided an immense amount of joy throughout her life, and she derived great pleasure in their development and growth into engaging, wonderful, and thoughtful men.  She also fully enjoyed her daughters-in-law and grandchildren; and was delighted that her first two grandchildren were girls, as they were the first girls in her family since she was born.

Beverly enjoyed international and domestic travel, and she and Bill traveled extensively in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the U.S.  She could not conceive of traveling without an architect along (Bill’s an architect, and emeritus university faculty member and academic administrator).  The joy of reading and music filled her life as well, having played violin in the Salem Junior Symphony.  Time on the Oregon sea coast was a particular pleasure, and she delighted in visiting family and friends throughout the US.

About ten years ago her family noticed that Beverly was having cognitive difficulties, and she was subsequently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  At this time, Bill decided to retire so the two of them could devote themselves to what enjoyable times were remaining.  Being the consummate advocate she was, Beverly became engaged with the Alzheimer’s Association of Utah, and she and Bill served nationally as Alzheimer’s Advocates, traveling to Washington, DC to lobby Utah’s congressional delegation to support Alzheimer’s funding.  Always willing to discuss her Alzheimer’s, Beverly gladly became the subject of several newspaper and television pieces on coping with the disease and caregiving. The family would like to thank the staff at Osmond Senior Living – Memory Care, and Tender Care Home Health and Hospice for their support and care of Beverly.

Beverly was preceded in death by her parents, Hugh and Ruth McConnell.  She is survived by her husband Bill; sons Britt (Katie Tonkovich) and David (Heather) and grandchildren Isabelle, Penelope, Lucas, Benjamin, Landon, and Dawson; brothers Wayne (Darlene) McConnell and John (Lynn) McConnell; and family throughout the country.

A Celebration of Life will occur at City View Mortuary at 2:00 PM on January 12, 2019 (go to www.cityviewmortuary.com).  In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations in Beverly’s name to the Alzheimer’s Association of Utah or the University of Utah Center for Alzheimer’s Care, Imagining and Research.

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