Helen Tenney Miller

Helen Tenney Miller, 92, of St. Joseph, passed away on January 16, 2017 at home.

A Celebration of Life service will be held 3 PM Saturday, January 21, 2017 with John Nye officiating at Starks & Menchinger Family Funeral Home, St. Joseph. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service. Memorial contributions may be made to Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra or Monday Musical Clubs of Michigan. Online condolences may be made at www.starks-menchinger.com

Tenney was born on February 12, 1924 in New Bedford, MA. She was a resilient child who loved life and had many interests. Growing up during the depression years caused her family to move all over New England never remaining in the same town for more than two years. She taught herself to play the piano and eventually the clarinet which ultimately allowed to her play in the college orchestra. She was an avid swimmer, beautiful diver, a force to be reckoned with as a bicyclist, and proved it when she triumphed as the MA State Bicycle Champ. According to her college yearbook, she played basketball, field hockey and was an ace tennis player, winning her the title of Athlete of the Year at her woman’s college. After earning her teaching degree at Framingham State College in MA), she went on to receive a Master’s Degree in Home Ec. from Columbia University. On August 20, 1950 she married Victor Miller. She taught at Benton Harbor High School until she had her first child. Through the years, Tenney has energetically volunteered for numerous organizations such as 4-H, PTA, support to River School and in local and state politics. She has been an active member of the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Benton Harbor for almost 70 years, serving as Reader, Board Member, and chair of numerous committees. Tenney is a former Michigan Federation of Music Clubs President, Monday Musical Club President and served on the national, state, and local levels. Her love and devotion for the Junior Club is where she championed for education and scholarship. Her dedication to the annual National Music Week celebration was honored each year by the National Federation of Music Clubs. Tenney was enthralled by nature, cultures, and world issues. She adored her family and friends immensely. Her deep conviction of faith influenced her optimistic outlook. Tenney was gracious and loving, truly an inspiration, a woman of class. Tenney is survived by her children, Roni (Ron) Erickson [joined the family in 1958] of McHenry, IL, Valorie (Clifford Ford) Miller, Greg Miller, Bethany (Perry) Morgan and Cindy (Ken) King.  She is also survived by her brothers, Bill (Noreen) Gardner and George (Gayle) Gardner; sixteen grandchildren and nineteen great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents, Hervey and Dorrice Gardner; husband, Victor Miller; daughter, Heidi Orlaske; son Randy Miller; sister, Josephine Hamel and brother, Andy Gardner.




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