- Courtesy Photo
- Andrea Miller
With sun shining through beautiful sparkling snowflakes outside the window, Andrea Westing Lisle Miller, 71, passed away at the McClure Miller Respite House on February 9, 2021. There was so much love with her daughter holding her hand, stroking her hair, and Joan Baez on the speaker. Though a fast and furious cancer diagnosis just four short weeks earlier overwhelmed her suffering body, it did not dim her warm and loving spirit in those last days.
Andrea was born in New Orleans, La., to Mildred (“Midge”) Somers Westing. Shortly thereafter, Midge packed her wee infant daughter into a Model T Ford and, after a brief time in Texas where Midge babysat A.J. Foyt (yes, that A.J. Foyt!) to make money, she drove up the East Coast looking for a place to build a life for the two of them. She landed in the quaint village of Townshend, Vt. As the story goes, the small house she found to rent had a cow living in the basement that had to be evacuated before they could take up residence … a fitting start to a true Vermont existence. It just so happened that next door to the cowhouse stood the Townshend Furniture Factory, where Midge met the owner, Laurence (“Larry”) Lisle. Love sparked among the wood shavings and chair forms, as little Andrea looked on. Soon enough, they were married and Larry became Andrea’s adoptive father for the remainder of his life.
Midge and Larry decided to build a home on a beautiful parcel of land in the hills of Grafton, Vt., and that was the home Andrea grew up in, running among the fields and trees in the warmer months and ice-skating on their pond and skiing the local mountains come winter. She happily welcomed her baby brother, Skip Lisle, 10 years later. Skip was always a great source of pride, joy and respite for his big sister right until her last moments.
Andrea had a colorful spectrum of education. She attended high school at Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts, where she fell in love with the Spanish language and became fluent in its romantic tone. Upon her graduation in 1966, Andrea went on to the University of Vermont in Burlington, where she majored in English. Boy, did she love writing. Her words could draw you in until you felt every last one on the page. She was also an amazing editor for those of us who relied on her sharp wit and firm pen. It was a true gift. A bit later in life, while she was a wife and mother and working a full-time job, she embarked on a wonderful six-year certificate program of night and weekend classes at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design in Providence to further advance her abilities in several artistic mediums. She was a tremendous talent in the areas of drawing, calligraphy, painting and collage, among others.
When Andrea was attending UVM in the '60s, she met fellow student John Miller. They fell in love to the sounds of his guitar playing, lots of laughter and John’s crazy Phi Delta Theta fraternity brothers. As she would say, “Yes, it was Animal House in real life!” Their beloved daughter, Jennifer, arrived toward the end of the college experience, and she got to participate in some of the shenanigans, too ... such as little Jennifer being wrapped up in her mother’s L.L.Bean coat and snuck into the upper balcony of the Flynn theater in Burlington to take in all the glory that was B.B. King. There was always music in Andrea’s world: jazz, blues, folk. It was rarely quiet ... It was wonderful. Andrea used to sing Jennifer to sleep playing the guitar and singing Joan Baez, Judy Collins and Bob Dylan. Soul filled the home they created. And though Andrea and John went their separate ways after 27 years of marriage, they remained good friends.
After several years in Vermont, in 1977 the Millers moved to Rochester, N.Y., for four years, and then on to Rehoboth, Mass. In each of the places she lived, Andrea dedicated herself to a life of nonprofit work and creativity. Her career started with many years at various blood centers, recruiting blood donors through her creative marketing and communication efforts. She always said, “Though I’m in the back office, I still feel like I’m saving lives with the work that I do.” She felt so gratified with her role in these places. She also found her way to working in fundraising for the Providence Children’s Museum, as well as the Pomfret School in Connecticut. After her “big jobs” (as she liked to call them), she spent time enjoying several retail endeavors, where her gift of human connection proved to help her success in those venues, as well. Thankfully, just two years ago, Andrea moved back to her beloved Vermont after 36 years in Massachusetts to be closer to her daughter in Burlington and get back to her spirit place. Since her return, she was so happy to have such a wonderful group of people to work with at the Shelburne Museum gift shop. She loved being entrenched in such a place … a place that offered her all of the things she loved best: history, creativity and nature.
Andrea’s deep love of natural wonders, combined with an innate design sense, turned what some would see as just a stick or a feather or a stone into a wonderfully curated collection of natural objects that brought warmth and soul to her surroundings. Her generosity with her family and friends would oftentimes find us on the receiving end of one of her inspired creations: a fabulous rock-and-driftwood mobile, a watercolor inspired by Lake Champlain, a knitted hat when someone needed it most, or a poem penned by her beautiful calligraphy hand. No matter what the occasion, she always knew exactly what someone would enjoy. Thankfully, that means that her folks have many keepsakes to hold close to their hearts during this time of deep loss.
To know her was to love her. Whether for friends, family or strangers, Andrea always carried with her a profound sense of curiosity and put people at ease with her warmth and inviting presence. Andrea will be lovingly remembered and dearly missed by her daughter, Jennifer Miller; brother Skip Lisle; sister-in-law Elise Lisle; niece Emma Lisle; nephew Forrest Lisle; and so many dear friends and wonderful cousins, near and far.
A celebration of Andrea’s life will be planned for when it’s safe for family and friends to gather in her honor and enjoy each other’s warm embrace … otherwise known as a damn fun party filled with stories, laughter, hugs and music! In the meantime, her ashes are being scattered by some of those she held dear in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Washington, Maryland, the Pyrenees in France and, of course, multiple spots in Vermont: hills, lakes and yards. She wanted to be close to those she loved, and she didn’t want to miss a thing! If you are so inclined, donations can be made to the American Red Cross in Andrea’s honor to continue “saving lives.”
To contact Andrea's family, please contact Seven Days at firstname.lastname@example.org.