Karen Miller was a devoted mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Her caring ways and generous acts were her legacy to so many lives she touched over the years. A gifted seamstress and people person, Karen was a friend to many and a stranger to none. She never seemed to have a hard time meeting new people and making everyone she met feel comfortable in her presence. She simply adored her sweet family and shared so much of herself with each and every one of them. A true lover of music, especially rock ‘n’ roll, Karen leaves behind a warm collection of fond memories for all who knew and loved her.
So much of the 1940s were characterized by WWII. It’s hard to explain how much of an impact the war had on all aspects of life. Many basic items such as sugar, butter, meat, and gasoline were rationed to ensure that everyone’s needs were met. It was a time of great significance in our nation. By 1945, just a few months before the war officially ended in Europe, Edward and Cecelia Kwiecien (nee Graczyk) welcomed home the oldest of their four children, a newborn daughter, Karen born on January 23rd in Milwaukee. She was born to hardworking parents; her father a glazer, and her mother, an executive assistant. Karen brought great joy into their hearts. They were proud of their Polish heritage and raised their children with many of their most meaningful family traditions.
While Karen was a small child, she lived with her parents and her three younger siblings in an upper flat of her mother’s parents; the Graczyk homestead. More specifically, it was Bartlett Avenue on the east side of town that became Karen’s childhood neighborhood shared with her Aunt Florence, Uncle Andy, and her seven Jaszewski cousins who lived right across the street. Each and every holiday, summer barbecue, and Christmas Eve were spent in this shared space where family was the common thread that wove each of them tightly together. As a young adult, Karen attended local schools including both Riverside and Messmer High School, then she went right to work at Martha’s. In 1966, she married Emil “Lardy” Miller, and they were blessed with four wonderful children; Andrea, Michael, Mark and Jason before moving their family to an eighty-one acre farm in Ojibwa, Wisconsin. For many years, Karen loved to raise chickens, ducks, and goats there until she and Emil ended their marriage. In 1988, Karen moved back home to Bartlett Avenue with the children.
As a mom, Karen was firm, yet fun. Everyone always knew exactly where they stood with her as she was as honest as they come. She loved to dote on each and every one of her children, sharing many of her rich talents and gifts with them. As much as she relished her time as a mother, Karen most certainly enjoyed being a grandmother to her eight lovely grandchildren and one special great-grandchild. Over the years, she shared with them her love of music and the theater by taking them to see many magnificent theater productions as well as concerts. She had a natural ear for music and loved to study the history of many forms of music. She especially loved Opera music. Perhaps, because of her ties to the Florentine Opera where she worked as a wardrobe mistress and costume designer for many years, a job she very much enjoyed. She was also an avid Elvis fan and loved classic rock ‘n’ roll. Karen found much solace in music and saw it as a way of learning more about the world around her.
Karen had many special interests and talents. She loved to sew, especially matching clothes for kids, doing various types of crafting and making special gifts for the family. She volunteered her time with the annual Polish Fest for ten years, even inspiring her family to help out and get involved as well. She loved to travel and especially treasured her vacations to Florida, Las Vegas, as well as the beautiful shores and harbors of the east coast. During her travels, she loved to soak in the rich knowledge of new areas she explored. Always one to enjoy learning, she often spent much of her time exploring the history and culture of the towns she visited. Each and every year she looked forward to the Wisconsin State Fair and enjoyed many Lakefront festivals. Karen never seemed to lack for fun and entertainment as she loved to spend time with people. Her family, however was her everything. There was nothing that she looked forward to more than Christmas and Easter time gathering with her children and grandchildren. Described as outspoken, funny, and always ready to dance or spend quality time with friends, Karen’s presence will be deeply missed.
Karen A. Miller (nee Kwiecien) passed away on November 17, 2016 at the age of 71. Cherished mother of Andrea (Gary) Rogutich, Michael (Jenny Butler) Miller, Mark (Elizabeth Schmidt) Miller and Jason (Liz) Miller. Loving “Granny” of JJ, Tyler, Dan, Trey, Elissa, Maria, Gypsy and Raegan. Great Granny of Bentley. Beloved daughter of Cele and the late Edward Kwiecien. Dear sister of Chris (Sal) Salva, Kiki Hallett and Jimmy Kwiecien. Further survived by other relatives and friends. Visitation will be held Monday November 21 at SS Peter & Paul Church 2490 N. Cramer St., Milwaukee from 4:00 PM until the time of Funeral Mass at 6:00 PM. Suminski LifeStory Funeral Homes Suminski / Weiss (414) 276-5122 www.SuminskiFuneralHome.com