Juanita Ardel Lora Miller, 95, New Market, Va.

Syracuse Journal-Democrat

Juanita Ardel Lora Miller, age 95, passed at her home in New Market, Virginia, at around 3 a.m. on May 15, 2020, following a prolonged struggle with pulmonary hypertension and heart disease.  Her son, Paul J. Murphy, was present.   

Juanita was the youngest of four girls born to Mae Meyers and John Ulysses Grant Gariss of Nebraska, City, on July 22, 1924.

Father was the descendant of  emigrants from Hemel Hemstead, England, who landed at Roxbury, Mass., on Nov. 4, 1631, and later fought in the American Revolution.   

The family made its way West, settling in Nebraska in the 1800s.  

Surviving a difficult childhood, resulting from the death of her mother a year after her birth, and the Great Depression, Juanita graduated from St. Bernard’s Academy in Nebraska City.  

She, as did her sisters, contributed to the war effort in WWII as a genuine “Rosie the Riveter, ” helping build B-26s and B-29s at the Martin Bomber Plant in Omaha.  

Once, her hair got caught in the bit of the driller on the other side of the wing they were working on.

She survived.  

That same year, Juanita married Arnold Murphy, also of Nebraska City, and a son, Paul James Murphy, was born in 1943.  

Unemployed after the plant closed, hard times again befell her, but she persevered, and attended the Kansas City Institute of Practical Nursing and the Penrose Hospital School of Nursing, in Colorado Springs, Colo., becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN).  

Juanita also completed Dental Assistant training and became Vice President of the Dental Assistant’s Association of Colorado Springs.  

She moved to Colorado at the age of 38.  

It was there that she began riding and became quite the horsewoman, riding trails all over the Rocky Mountains in the 1960s and 70s with her colleagues at the Colorado Springs Riding Club, of which she was Secretary. Juanita was also a long time member of the Beta Sigma Phi Sorority.  

In 1987, she and her husband George Miller settled in a large house in New Market, Va.—a house once owned by the first cousin of First Lady Ellen Wilson.  

They opened the  Red Shutter Farmhouse Bed and Breakfast there, and operated it until 2006 when Juanita’s son purchased the house and business.  

Juanita was a beautiful woman, inside and out, and a dedicated mother.  

Her singular purpose in life was to ensure that her son had a better life than she had in her early years.

She provided a permanent home for him to always return to and encouraged him to make his own decisions in life.

She loved him unconditionally.  

Judy Allen, Juanita’s closest niece, recalls that her aunt was a socially active but soft spoken person; someone who stood firm in her beliefs but was never argumentative, and always an attentive listener.  “We never had a single argument,” Paul says. “Juanita was always on the go, and liked to try new things-new hobbies and interests...she also had an infectious laugh and a cute giggle,” Judy remembers.

Juanita Miller is survived by her son Paul J. Murphy, Ph.D., her grandson Matthew Murphy, daughters-in-law Susan Murphy and Julia Murphy, four nieces, Judy Allen, Barbara Lee, Jody Brown, Kay Bryant and two nephews, Richard and Bobby Berthold, and their families.  

She was laid to rest beside her loving husband George Miller at St. Matthews Cemetery in New Market, Va., on May 20, 2020.

Services were conducted by the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church of Harrisonburg, Va.  

While her body slumbers here on earth, we can be confident that her soul is now safe in Heaven.