Judith (Judy) Hunter Miller

Judy Miller was born Judith Hunter on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1944 in Rugby, North Dakota, and was raised in nearby Maddock by her father Robert, a World War II veteran and barber, and her mother Marie, a schoolteacher.  It was through simple life in this small rural town that she learned the importance of thrift, humility, service and hard work.

In 1965 Judy earned her nursing degree from St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing in Fargo, and shortly thereafter moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where she worked in the operating room at Peninsula Hospital and Medical Center in Burlingame.  Joining her in the move west was her lifelong friend and nursing school classmate Judy Ipswitch (née Gilbert).  The two of them shared many memorable adventures that would nurture and solidify the more carefree and passionate side of Judy’s character.

In 1969 Judy married Warren (Pete) Miller, and in 1974 they and their two sons David and Jonathan moved to Los Alamos, New Mexico.  For many years thereafter Judy focused on supporting and educating her children.  Among her proud moments were coaching a championship-winning pee-wee soccer team and leading a pushcart-derby-winning Cub Scout den.  At Chamisa Elementary School, where both boys attended, she held several important volunteer roles, including tutor and nurse assistant, and was instrumental in coordinating restoration efforts after the devastating fire of 1983, even scrubbing floors on hands and knees the day before reopening.

During this period Judy also became an active contributor to a variety of philanthropic and charitable causes. Whether making visits to elderly community members, cooking meals for those in need, hand-sewing blankets for dogs at the animal shelter, or playing piano at church services, Judy brought a generous and devoted spirit to all her endeavors, giving as much as possible of herself and expecting little in return.

Judy returned to nursing in 1985, working in the operating room at Los Alamos Medical Center, Northern New Mexico Surgical Services and Northern New Mexico Orthopedic Services.  In 1991 she obtained her B.S. in Nursing from the University of New Mexico, deftly juggling classes in Albuquerque with household and parenting duties back at home.  In later years her focus shifted to family practice, women’s health, patient outreach and adult health education, as she continued her career at both Los Alamos Medical Center and the Occupational Medicine Outpatient Clinic of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

After retirement from nursing, Judy remained active with a number of organizations in Los Alamos, emphasizing acts of service.  One of these was the Los Alamos Council on Cancer, where in addition to various administrative and outreach tasks she worked directly with patients undergoing chemotherapy to find wigs and other daily necessities.  Another was the Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church, where she devoted considerable time assisting with maintenance and financial matters, preparing meals for events and caring for the younger children during services.

Throughout all her adult life, Judy truly understood and respected the inherent value of people, places, animals, and possessions. She gave her undivided attention to those around her, used the minimum of resources in her daily life, treated with reverence the land on which she lived, and only bought what she absolutely needed—and only if it was on sale.  Her persistent bargain-shopping, devotion to gardening, expertise in the kitchen, and knack for repairing broken items (not to mention her ability to create new items from scratch), sufficiently bolstered the household finances to allow for many enriching family experiences in Los Alamos and beyond, not the least of which was a college education for her two children.

In the final chapters of her life, Judy could often be found on long walks in the canyon with one of her rescue dogs by her side. After her grandchildren were born, she spent much of her free time traveling between New Mexico and California for extended visits filled with games, arts and crafts, trips to the park and zoo, and story time on the couch. But as much as she enjoyed her travels, she always loved coming home.  Her heart belonged in Los Alamos, where she could stand in her kitchen and appreciate the flowers on her patio, the birds at her feeder and the sun rising over the beautiful Sangre de Christo mountains.  She had built a life here.  A meaningful life that touched so many people in so many ways.  It is left to us, those who knew and loved her, to honor that life by remembering it.