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Mrs. Hope Miller

by CATHY L. CRIPPS Department of Plant Sciences
and Plant Pathology, Montana State University

 

 

Born in West Chester, Pennsylvania on June 10, 1933, Hope was adopted at the age of three weeks. Hope C. Hartigan lived in Gardner, Massachusetts, before entering college at the University of Massachusetts. She studied speech and drama for three years before marrying Orson on July 11, 1953. Hope has been invaluable as co-author of three of Orson's mushroom books and as a contributor and editor of numerous papers, Amazingly, she has been Orson's companion on almost all field trips and forays, every stint at the biological station, and nearly all professional meetings. Hope has been to more professional meetings than many mycologists!

At forays, she gives talks on cooking with mushrooms and dying with fungi. What began as demonstrations developed into entire courses on cooking with mushrooms, leading to television and radio spots, and a cooking column in Blacksburg's "New River Messenger." This culminated in "Hope's Mushroom Cookbook" a collection of recipes developed and gathered over many years of mushroom collecting with her husband. At the 1995 NAMA meeting in Bemidji, Minnesota, she lectured on "Beatrice Potter, the Mycologist," another of her interests. During extended field trips, Hope is tireless in helping Orson find, collect, and process fresh fungi into dried specimens. Despite her extreme fear of snakes, she follows Orson into areas where snakes are known to lurk. All the travels listed for Orson apply to Hope as well. She serves as a terrific "straight man" for Orson's constant joshing and a wealth of information on Orson's personal affairs which we could exploit at social gatherings.

 

In Blacksburg, Hope was active in Girl Scouts for 27 years (plus ten more as a scout herself), and served as Vice President of the Virginia Skyline Council. She received the "Thanks Badge," which is the top Girl Scout award. Hope was advisor for Kappa Theta from 1983-2001, and was voted Advisor of the Year for all sororities at VPI in 1990, and again in 1991. She was 1982 Volunteer of the Year for Service to Youth given by the Blacksburg Civitan Club, and received the Life Time Achievement Award for contributions to amateur mycology from the Texas Mycological Society. This background reveals a mentoring ability to young people that complemented Orson's role as educator.

 

Her spousal dedication has been above and beyond the call of duty, but this may be explained by her stated philosophy: "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," Now with Orson in Idaho, Hope continues her quilting and knitting work, and is no doubt even now helping Orson with the next mycology project. Their daughters, teacher Andrea (Andy) Onken and financial planner Virginia (Ginny) Miller are nearby in Montana, while teacher Annelise (Lise) Mayer remains in Richmond, Virginia. The Millers presently have five grandchildren. Through it all Hope has kept the home fires burning and met the professional side with down-to-earth common sense, loyalty, good humor, and dignity. We thank her for her support of Orson, her help to young women over decades, and her own contributions to mycology.

 

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