Obituary: Harlaine Dudley Miller, 1944-2023 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Harlaine Dudley Miller, 1944-2023

Philanthropist and benefactor of the McClure Miller Respite House is remembered for her goodness, generosity and humility

Published September 29, 2023 at 6:00 a.m.
Updated September 29, 2023 at 3:43 p.m.

Harlaine Miller - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Harlaine Miller

The world is a better place because of the life and countless contributions of Harlaine Dudley Miller.

Harlaine Miller, better known as Holly, died peacefully in the early morning hours of Wednesday, September 20, 2023, at the McClure Miller Respite House, the place of rest and comfort she helped to create in Colchester, Vt.

Holly was born in Rutland on August 8, 1944. Her name was chosen by her parents, Elaine Park and Harley E. Dudley, combining their first names to create Harlaine. She was the second of five children, having one sister and three brothers.

When Holly was nine years old, her family moved to Burlington, where she entered fourth grade. Holly was raised in a humble home on lower North Street with the family values of love, commitment and hard work that shaped the person she was to become.

Holly’s love of books and passion for learning were born at Edmunds Middle School. With every new book she read, she wanted more. Holly became an avid reader as an adult, often reading more than 40 books a year. She was in love with words and beautiful writing. Her countless journals and exquisite crafting of letters and speeches bear testimony to this. Her pièce de résistance was the writing of her memoir, I’ll Show You How, recounting her experience of her father’s dying process. She was a loving presence in the care and comfort of both of her parents at the end of their lives.

In school, along with her passion for learning, Holly developed an unwavering work ethic. She babysat as a youngster and, in high school, worked at Del’s Pizza Parlor in her neighborhood and later as a carhop at the A&W. Importantly, she often shared her earnings with her parents.

Following her graduation from Burlington High School in 1962, she continued her formal education, pursuing evening classes at the University of Vermont and Trinity College. At the same time, she advanced from secretary to the position of office manager in the newly formed group practice University Orthopedics, a position in which she took great pride.

Holly was also passionate about travel, art and photography. Her curiosity for other cultures and countries was insatiable. The books she read as a youngster planted the seeds for many travels as an adult. In bearing witness to diverse cultures around the world, she was deeply humbled and influenced by her interactions with the people she met. She marveled that they were satisfied with so little and appreciated that their happiness came from within. This left a lasting impression.

Among Holly’s most important possessions were her mother’s paintings, the finest and most expansive being the Noah’s ark wall mural that welcomes everyone entering Respite House.

Holly was not a professional photographer, but she had an eye for capturing memorable moments. She took great pride in her travel photos. Her many albums, filled with candid shots of family celebrations as well as quiet, pensive moments, are treasured by her family.

Holly is perhaps best remembered for her goodness and generosity. Her positive impact on our community through philanthropy will be felt for generations to come.

Holly’s partner in philanthropy was the love of her life — her Buddha, as she often referred to him — Robert “Bobby” Miller. Holly and Bobby were always in perfect lockstep in their commitment to giving back. While there is a long list of organizations and groups that were recipients of their generosity, their hearts were always open when an opportunity arose to meet expanded health care needs for all, support the care and nurturing of children, and improve the quality of care at the end of life, which was Holly’s greatest passion. Honors and recognition of their achievements in these and other areas are too numerous to mention here, however it is important to note that Holly was moved and humbled to be recognized for every one.

Bobby and Holly understood that it was important to allow their names to be used to encourage other would-be philanthropists. However, this never changed the humility that was such an intrinsic part of Holly. She was uncomfortable being put on a pedestal and often said, with a twinkle in her eye, “If you fall off, it’s a long way down!”

Armed with all that she learned from her father during his illness and death, Holly enrolled in hospice volunteer training. Little did she know the heights to which this part of her life journey would take her. She was a founding mother of Respite House, Madison-Deane Initiative and Noyana Singers. Whether sitting with a dying client, doing committee work to support the volunteer program, singing to dying individuals and their families, or traveling internationally in support of a documentary film about the pioneers of the hospice movement, Holly did it all!

And in the end, Holly gave us perhaps her greatest gift of all: With grace and dignity, she showed us how to die.

Holly was predeceased by her beloved Buddha, Bobby; her parents; and her brother Fred Graham Dudley.

Holly is survived by her daughter, Erika Montgomery; her granddaughter, Darian; her sister, Deanna Brightstar, and her children, Peter Martin and Wendy Martin; her brother Dennis Dudley (Eileen) and their children, Devon (Simone Kreiger) and Matthew; her brother Tim Dudley (MaryBeth) and their children, Ian, Jahala and Jessica. She is also survived by her nephew, Fred Dudley Jr., and grandnieces and nephew, Rhea Dudley, Elliott McCallister and Ariella Dudley.

Holly is also survived by her husband’s family, who have been an integral part of her life: daughter Stephanie Taylor (Mitch) and their children, Thomas Reiskin, Olivia Reiskin, Austin Taylor and Carson Taylor; son Tim Miller (Wendy) and their children, Sarah Owen (Jason), Katie Gabree (Jeremy) and Aaron Plunkett; as well as three great-grandchildren, Eloise Owen, Madeline Owen and Reggie Gabree.

The family gives special thanks to Lauren Rosamilia, Edisa Musanovic and Linda Demar. They cared for Holly at home during the last few years of her life. Treating Holly as if she were a member of their own families, she felt safe, secure and loved in their presence, and for that we will be forever grateful.

A private burial service will be held in early October at Lakeview Cemetery.

A celebration of Holly’s life will be held on Friday, November 17, 2023, 1 p.m., at UVM’s Davis Center, with a reception to follow. All are welcome.

Arrangements have been entrusted to the care of Ready Funeral and Cremation Services. To send online condolences to the family, please visit

The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the McClure Miller Respite House by mail at 3113 Roosevelt Highway, Colchester, VT 05446 or online here.

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