Barbara was born in Aberdeen, SD, to the late Edwin and Lucille (Trautman) Miller on April 10, 1929. She survived the dust bowl, the Great Depression and her father’s death in 1941, far too young, to pancreatic cancer.
After graduating from Aberdeen Central High School (1947) and the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) with a Bachelor of Arts in Education (1952), Barbara became engaged to Kenneth R. Knutson of Rapid City, SD. Barb taught kindergarten as ‘Miss Miller’ in Eau Claire, WI, until their marriage on August 1, 1953 in Aberdeen.
During their early years of marriage, Barb continued to teach (in Minneapolis, Duluth, Hibbing and Roseville, MN), serving as the main breadwinner while Ken finished medical school and went on to complete his residency in pediatrics.
The couple moved to Wausau in 1961 where Ken (Dr. Knutson) joined 11 other physicians to form the Wausau Clinic, which ultimately became the Wausau Medical Center and precursor to the Marshfield Clinic-Wausau Center.
Wausau also proved an ideal place for Barb and Ken to start their family. They adopted Sarah in 1962, Paul in 1964 and Mary Louise in 1966.
Barb's signature trait was putting others first. She was a devoted wife, mother, homemaker, and community volunteer. She made countless sacrifices to support Ken's medical career, and to ensure that her children had every opportunity available to them. She led Brownie and Cub Scout troops. She chaperoned school trips. She attended innumerable school functions, sporting events and music performances while her children were growing up. She was active in St. John's Episcopal Church, the John Marshall School PTA, Wausau East Backyurjax, Marathon County Humane Society and the YWCA.
The quintessential needlework artisan, her family never wanted for beautifully knit sweaters, elegant home made outfits, and hand sewn quilts that were the envy of neighbors and friends. As if that weren't enough: Her back yard attested to her love of gardening. Her dinner table displayed her gourmet palate and spirit of culinary adventure. Her home decor and furnishings showcased her eye for interior design.
In more recent years, Barb looked forward to the sun on her face on the patio on bright summer days and to warming herself by the front lounge fireplace to cut the chill of winter. She was an avid observer of the birds on the feeder outside her window and the clouds as they formed across the horizon portending a storm. She lovingly tended two orchid plants, one of which bloomed for the first time in years the whole last month of her life. She never lost her sense of style, and insisted on dressing in fashion until the end. She treasured the company of friends, including a "round robin" chain-letter group that she managed to keep going since graduating high school (70 years is a lot of letters!). And while ice cream may be greatly missed, there is no comparison to the joy she must now feel at being reunited with her beloved Kenny, who she lost to cancer over 26 years ago (January 31, 1997).
She is survived by daughter Mary Louise Knutson (Michael Nelson), jazz pianist in Minneapolis, MN; son Paul Knutson (Heidi Schuster), architectural designer in St. Paul, MN; daughter Sarah Knutson, mental health advocate in Barre, VT; as well as by her brother John E. Miller (West Palm Beach, FL); her nieces Rebbeca Miller, Patricia (Miller) Keppler and Kathy (Knutson) Kreidler; her nephew, Chris Knutson; and their partners, spouses, children and grandchildren.
The family welcomes you to join them to remember Barb and celebrate her life on Tuesday, March 28, 2023 at St. John's Episcopal Church in Wausau (330 McClellan Street). Visitation will start at 10:00 AM, followed by a service at 11:00 AM (Rev. David Klutterman officiating), with a luncheon served thereafter.