Laura Mae Cramer Miller

Laura Mae Cramer Miller of Belmont, MA was born in Linn, MO on July 30, 1922 to Lola Zewicki
Cramer and Buell B Cramer. Her father was an educator and her mother was a homemaker.
During her school years her family lived in Smithville, MO where she attended elementary,
junior high and high school. She started college at age 16, majoring in social studies, and
graduated from the University of Missouri (MU) in 1943. From early childhood she always
wanted to be a teacher. She taught history, social studies and English for nine years in
Montgomery City, Marshall and Webster Groves, all in Missouri, and at the Baker School in
Brookline, MA.

In 1948 Laura married John Preston Miller, whom she had known since childhood from
Smithville, and a University of Missouri graduate. As a 20-year old student studying chemistry,
John had been recruited by the US Army to work in Los Alamos, NM on the Manhattan Project
helping to develop the atom bomb. His exposure to the mountains of New Mexico drove him
to change his major to geology when he returned to MU after the war. The newly-weds moved
to Cambridge, MA for John to earn his PhD in geology at Harvard University. During his first
faculty position at Pennsylvania State University, Laura gave birth to the first three of their four
children. In 1954 John was offered a faculty position in Harvard’s geology department. The
family lived first in Arlington and then settled in Belmont where their fourth child was born.
John was a popular professor and Laura was busy raising children and being involved in their
schools. Many summers involved driving across the US — stopping to visit family in Missouri
and to see friends and colleagues in other locations – to Santa Fe, NM where for John did
fieldwork for the United States Geological Survey in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
In 1961, after working in New Mexico, John became ill and died from complications from
bubonic plague, a disease not uncommon in the desert areas of the Southwest but unfamiliar to
East Coast doctors. Laura was left with four children, ages 10, 8, 7 and 7 months. Many families
in Belmont as well as members of the Harvard University geology community were helpful and
supportive over the next several years.

Tragedy struck again in 1973 when son, Kirk was taking a semester off from college, driving a
cab. During a period of deep tension in Boston, he was robbed and murdered. That death,
tragic by itself, was compounded by the death 12 years earlier of John.
Despite these terrible losses and dedicating much of her life to maintaining her husband’s
legacy, Laura had a rich and full life. She worked for Executours, Inc., founded by her friend
Ellen McKenny Fahey, giving historic tours of the greater Boston area, relocating people when
their companies moved to Boston, and planning conventions. She opened her home to
international students at Harvard and Boston University and traveled with Friendship Force to
Australia and New Zealand. Raised Methodist and Presbyterian she became a Unitarian
Universalist and was a longtime member of First Church in Belmont where she was involved in
the Sanctuary program for Central American refugees, co-sponsored the resettlement of a
family from Viet Nam to Belmont, and was active in the Transylvania Partner Church program,
including visiting the partner church in Romania. She was involved in METCO and raised money
and support for students from Boston to attend school in Belmont. An active member of
Belmont Against Racism (BAR) in the 1990s she helped organize meetings and events to
promote awareness of racism and activities to counter it. In 2008 she received the Martin
Luther King Jr. award from BAR.

Laura had friends of all ages in nearly every state and many countries. She traveled extensively
in the US including driving across the country in 1967 with her four children ages 16, 14, 13, and
6 where the teenagers played the radio very loudly. She visited Poland, France, England, South
Africa, Japan, Hungary, Romania, New Zealand, Australia and Spain, and on many of those trips
was hosted by people she knew.

Laura was an ardent Red Sox fan, a strong Democrat and a supporter of progressive causes.
She never missed an election. Every day she read The Boston Globe and watched the news and
she followed the 2020 presidential election closely, thrilled that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris
won. She loved presidents Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy and, especially,
Barack Obama. Although she considered herself a Bostonian, she never forgot her Missouri
roots and she returned to Linn and Smithville every year until recently. In 1986 she and her sister donated their grandparents’ house to the Osage County Historical Society. It is now the
Zewicki House Museum and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.
She was a devoted mother and very proud of her children. She was involved in things they did,
such as serving on the board of Boston Children’s Theatre, an organization in which two of her
children were active. It was in her back yard where all the neighborhood children gathered to
play baseball and kick-the-can and hold fairs that raised money for the Jimmy Fund and the
Kennedy Library. She was helpful in her neighborhood and community, always demonstrating
that old fashioned term of “loving kindness”.

She loved many Boston institutions, particularly the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of
Science and of WGBH (Boston’s PBS TV station). For years she would let her children watch
anything on Channel 2 but only one show a week on commercial television. She adored
Masterpiece Theatre and would discuss episodes by phone with her daughter. She took her
children and their friends to see plays, musicals, historical sites and art exhibits. She was an avid
reader and in recent years enjoyed hearing people read to her.
Laura adored her grandchildren and had a special relationship with each one. Even though the
family was spread out across North America they were in regular contact by phone, Skype,
Facetime, Zoom, cards and visits. And she loved her great grandchildren very much.
Friends, including members of First Church, and family kept her going. She lived in the same
house for 61 years where old and new friends were always welcome. All her birthdays were
celebrated including a big one in her back yard when she turned 95. In grade school she had
been told to not sing and to pass out the music instead, but she loved to hear singing and to
sing herself. Singing every night with her son, Roger and her home health aide,
HasifahNamugenyi became an important part of Laura’s routine.

Laura died on November 28, 2020 of acute respiratory failure due to Covid-19 pneumonia. She
is survived by her children Julie Miller Vick (Jim) of Haddonfield, NJ, Sally Miller (Charlie
Albanese) of Bagdad, FL and Roger Miller (Ann) of Cambridge, MA, her grandchildren Emily
Agnew (George) of Toronto, Ontario, John Vick (Amanda Jaffe) of Philadelphia and David Vick of

Los Angeles, step-grandson Tom Albanese (Ashlee), great grandchildren Athena Agnew, Theo
Agnew and Agnes Vick, step-great grandson, Oscar Albanese, her sister, Renna Jordan, her
sister-in-law, Virginia Miller, and eleven nieces and nephews, as well as extended-family friend,
Joe Cornish (Jeff Cuppett). She was predeceased by husband John Miller, son Kirk Miller and
brothers Edwin Cramer and R.V. Cramer.

Arrangements have been handled by Boston Cremation. A virtual memorial service will be held
in the near future and an in-person outdoor celebration will be held in the summer or when it is
safe to gather again. For questions about these events, please contact one of the family.
Donations in Laura’s memory can be made to METCO, the Metropolitan Council for Educational
Opportunity,, the United Negro College Fund, or the
Osage Country Historical Society, P.O. Box 402, Linn, MO 65051.


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30 Condolences

  1. Lorraine Wanham on December 6, 2020 at 11:49 pm

    Julie, Jim, Sally, Charlie, Roger, Ann, Joe, Jeff, Renna and the family and friends I had the pleasure to meet while I visited with my friend Laura. Happy for the great memories! Greetings and blessings to you all.
    Lorraine Xo

  2. Mary C. Curtin on December 7, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    Sending big hugs to the entire Miller family. Clearly some of the greatest neighbors the Curtins ever had. Love you, Mary Curtin-Stevenson

  3. Kate McKenney O'Brien on December 7, 2020 at 4:11 pm

    Dear Roger, Julie and Sally,
    Your mother was so special to the Mckenney family and we are sorry for your loss. We also feel blessed that she played a role in our lives.
    Our mother considered her one of her dearest friends. I know that Laura provided a great deal of comfort and support to Mom when she was suddenly widowed. Mom was delighted when Laura joined the core group of women establishing ExecuTours and Laura made an impact on everyone she met and worked with through her career at the company.
    Actually, Laura’s kind, caring and loving manner made an impact on everyone she encountered in life. Personally, I consider your mother a role model on how to live life with an open heart, resiliency and love.
    May she rest in loving peace.

  4. Martha Leonard Trask on December 7, 2020 at 7:39 pm

    Julie and Sally, it has been many years since Grade 4 at the Chenery School, but I fondly remember you, and Kirk, may he rest in peace, and your dear Mother. She was always a bright spot at PTA meetings, and I so enjoyed evenings at your home. It is so hard to lose such a great Mother, but know that despite all the years that have gone by, I still have very fond memories of the Miller family. My love and sympathy to you and all your family.

  5. Eileen Petersen on December 7, 2020 at 8:11 pm

    I was blessed to know Laura and to be her friend for many years. My sympathy goes out to all her family. The world is poorer and sadder now that she is gone. Rest in peace Laura. Eileen P.

  6. Patrick A Curtin on December 7, 2020 at 8:51 pm

    We will miss you Mrs Miller, as Cedar Rd shall forever be grateful of your love, wisdom, guidance, and wonderful smile. No matter how much chaos we created or endless play of backyard baseball games, your loving spirit lives forever in our hearts. With much Love & hugs to the entire Miller family, Patrick Curtin & family

  7. James, Cheryl and Jaimie Curtin on December 7, 2020 at 10:18 pm

    Roger, Julie and Sally and the rest of the Miller and extended Clan
    I cannot express the sorrow we have over the loss of your Mom; she was such a special woman and will always hold a warm and special place in our hearts. Rest in Peace Mrs. Miller; I will always treasure my memories of you and your family.

  8. Terry Curtin on December 8, 2020 at 12:55 am

    Thank you, Mrs. Miller. With your warmth and wisdom, you have made many lives richer. Although I am very sad to know that you have left this world, I am happy and proud that I had a longtime friendship with you. I am lucky to have grown up across the street from the Millers, with you as the head. I feel especially lucky to have you extend your friendship to my wife and children. Their lives are richer too as a result. I will miss you, but I know that you will live on with me, my family and many others who carry forward Laura Miller memories.

    Much love from Terry Curtin & Family to the Miller Family.

  9. Chris Funkhouser on December 8, 2020 at 2:33 am

    You’ve been an inspiration to me for as long as I’ve known you. Your kindness and warm, welcoming spirit touched so many people near and far. Your house was always a place of fun and recreation for all of us neighborhood kids, playing games, listening to music, and being positively influenced by your love of children, penchant for emphasizing the importance of education, and the positive spirit you radiated. Through your entire life you uplifted your friends and family, leading the way with humility and kind words. You are a shining example of a life well lived. Much love to you, Julie, Sally, Roger and the extended Miller family.

  10. Francis Curtin on December 8, 2020 at 2:13 pm

    Laura, for all the challenges she faced, presented warmth and generosity to me and my family. I know more now of her impressive life life due to her passing. Judy and I extend our sympathies to her family.

  11. Mari-An McKenney Fitzmaurice on December 8, 2020 at 2:47 pm

    Roger, Sally and Julie,
    Your mother was such a beautiful kind soul. She was a joy to be with and a wonderful role model. My mother was so fond of her and their friendship gave Mom strength.
    Your obituary captures what a full life she led, she packed a lot into her 98 years and I feel blessed for having known her.
    My condolences to you all, but may you feel comfort knowing she lived a full life.

  12. Tom and Rebecca Yoder Neufeld on December 8, 2020 at 10:37 pm

    What a wonderful tribute to a great mother, to you, Roger, Julie, and Sally, and to countless folks like this young Canadian student half a century ago. We will miss her dearly. We were blessed to visit her just one year ago.

  13. Gretchen Hildebrand on December 9, 2020 at 2:51 am

    Laura, there are not words to explain what you have meant to my heart. Your bravery, love and enduring spirit have been a bright example to me all of my teenage and adult life. I will always love you and remember your fair-mindedness, perseverance, friendliness and most of all, kindness and love of all.

  14. Chris Doyle on December 9, 2020 at 7:27 pm

    Roger and family, a wonderful tribute to your mother! I loved visiting with Laura at the Cedar Road block party and at her home occasionally. I could count on updates on current events and a bit of spicy comment on an issue of the day. You cared for her with such dedication and love. I’m sure she felt blessed by that.
    Chris Doyle, 15 Cedar

  15. Alice Trexler on December 9, 2020 at 9:14 pm

    “A life well lived” by a much loved person has never been so true. I have expressed myself in cards and otherwise, so this is short and bittersweet. Best wishes and sympathy to all of Laura’s family and friends.

  16. Amy & Robert Scordino on December 9, 2020 at 9:50 pm

    To Roger and Famly and Joe, our heartfelt love and sympathy go out to you all. I adored Laura immensely. When we moved to Cedar Road in 1999, Laura was incredibly welcoming. She said, “Amy, I want to take you to lunch!” And, that she did! I always appreciated her love and warmth and sweet Mama advice. She was one giving woman! A beautiful role model. A precious human. I will miss her and always buy and enjoy almond cookies in her honor! With deepest sympathy and understanding to you all. Our hearts are with you. Love from, The Scordino Family

  17. Rebecca Simpson on December 10, 2020 at 1:14 am

    Laura was a savior and an inspiration to me. She befriended me when I was stranded alone in Massachusetts and helped me immensely to find my way in the world. She was an inspiration and example to me of what it is to be a loving human being. To this day I strive to follow her example. Condole Julie, Roger And Sally.

  18. Robin Brown on December 10, 2020 at 8:46 pm

    Laura Miller was one of the most delightful and accomplished persons I have ever known. She always opened her home and heart to me; when I was an awkward child, a distracted young-ish adult, and most recently as a near neighbor and very dear friend. Her graciousness and kindness to others knew no bounds. I treasured our occasional visits over the last 20 years, which gave me lasting memories of her life story, particularly descriptions of her early years and family in Missouri. I extend my profound sympathies to Roger, Sally, and Julie and their families. Laura will be deeply missed by all who knew her. With condolences, Robin

  19. Kitty (Funkhouser) Garlid on December 10, 2020 at 10:16 pm

    Dear Julie, Sally, and Roger,

    My heart goes out to you all. Laura has been such a steady and kind presence for so many people. Even when I was a young girl I always felt welcome at your house (though I do recall getting homesick on my first sleepover, wimping out, and going home). I know from my own mother’s death what a big space is left that will never be filled. It is comforting to know what good friends they were.

    I am so glad there will be a memorial service that we can “attend.” Laura’s obituary is so rich and I learned so much about the fullness and generosity of her life. I feel lucky to have seen Laura on and off for the past several years.
    Love to you all,
    Kitty (Funkhouser) Garlid

  20. Bruce and Sylvia on December 11, 2020 at 2:06 am

    Dear Julie, Sally, and Roger,
    Our hearts reach out to you with the passing of your dear mother. We remember our visit to her home where she showed such warm hospitality and made us feel so welcome. She left a strong legacy of caring for others. What an example for all of us.
    Much love to all of the extended family,

  21. Ros and Paula Paine on December 11, 2020 at 3:34 pm

    A beautiful light has gone out of this world with Laura’s passsing. Her dignity, grace, and strength of character were blessings to all who’s lives she touched. We were better people just for knowing her. The world was a better place because of Laura. We will miss her deeply.

  22. Paula Sakey on December 12, 2020 at 12:45 am

    What an amazing woman who has left a legacy of live, acceptance, action and openness. Roger and Ann, I am so sorry and feel grateful to have spent time with you both and Laura in recent years. Rob has always admired her and I really understood why. Sending love to you both.

  23. Heather Stoll on December 12, 2020 at 6:45 am

    Dear Roger, Joe and the whole Miller clan,
    I am so thankful to have been one of those graduate students connected to Mrs Miller and to have had the chance to spend my year in Boston as her tenant. It was a blessing to have the place I came home to feel like a “home” because of who she was. I learned so much from her example in life and from her humor and wisdom over shared moments in the kitchen. She had a quiet and graceful way of helping me see things in a more balanced light when I was prone to complain. I admire her generosity in the everyday, as we all admire her resiliance faith, and positive spirit despite the heartbreaks she went through. For one woman, she spread so much love so wide in this world. I hope from heaven she has the joy of looking down over all the people she has blessed over her long years. Blessings and God’s comfort to you, Heather

  24. Marc Laureys on December 12, 2020 at 2:55 pm

    I am deeply saddened to hear the news of the passing of Laura Miller. I am one of the many graduate students whom Mrs. Miller assisted during their first steps around the campus of Harvard University. I still vividly remember our first meeting at Logan Airport in September 1987, when I started what would become an exciting adventure unfolding in Harvard Yard and beyond. I will remain forever grateful for the help and encouragement I received from Mrs. Miller, as I tried to find my way in my new surroundings. I cherish the fond memories of the dinners, to which I was invited at her home in Cedar Road, where I also enjoyed the wonderful company of Roger. Mrs. Miller was a unique jewel in the crown of my New England experience. I feel privileged to have known this truly inspiring person and extend my heartfelt condolences to Roger and the entire Miller family.

  25. stephanie and Ed on December 12, 2020 at 6:54 pm

    What a very special woman in so many ways.I feel honored to have met her and loved small conversations with her.
    So glade made it to her 95th birthday.
    She had so many friends and loving relatives.

    Her strength and joy and certitude will always be in our memories.
    We loved her and I hope she knew that.

  26. MICHAEL CURTIN on December 14, 2020 at 2:43 am

    Dear Roger, Sally,&Julie, Although I am deeply saddened for the loss your wonderful mother, I am profoundly grateful to have known such an extraordinary woman. I consider myself very fortunate, an amazing human being . Fondly Michael

  27. Claudia and Colin Smith on December 23, 2020 at 9:46 pm

    Dear Julie,
    We are so sorry for your loss. We are keeping you and your family in our thoughts.
    Claudia and Colin Smith

  28. Jane Gerteisen on December 28, 2020 at 3:28 pm

    Dear Roger and family, the world has lost a beautiful soul.

  29. Wayne Attrill on April 1, 2021 at 10:11 pm

    Dear Roger and family, I was very saddened to learn of Laura’s passing. I too was one of the Harvard international students Laura opened her home to in the late 1980s. She was a wonderful person who treated me as if I was a part of her family, looked after me and made me feel very welcome in the United States. I have never forgotten her hospitality, generosity and love. She taught me American history and invited me to share in an unforgettable Massachusetts’ family Christmas. I was very fortunate to meet up with Laura again when she visited friends in Sydney, Australia, where I now live, some years ago. I also remember you Roger with fondness, you’re a great guy! My sincere condolences from my mother, who met and loved Laura too, and myself to you all. All the best, Wayne Attrill.

  30. Jim Hannon on June 19, 2021 at 7:09 pm

    I remember Laura Miller with gratitude and affection. I was a neighbor, a few years older than Kirk. I remember some games in that yard and how much I was impressed by Kirk’s warmth and basic decency. My parents were not as well educated as most adults in our neighborhood and I learned from Laura and some others how to interact with adults without excessive deference or shy silence. I remember Julie and Sally too–both cool little kids when I knew the family. Like them I became a U-U for a while and briefly met Laura and Julie again at the Belmont church. I remember Laura saying that she realized years ago that God is love and that no further theological reflection is necessary. I’m sure she went through a lot of pain to arrive at that realization. A wonderful woman. Condolences to the family and appreciation for a life well-lived and a great family.

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