Dorothy Miller

Dorothy K. Miller

Thursday February 23rd, 1922 - Friday February 5th, 2021
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Please share your favorite memory of Dorothy to be included in a special keepsake book for the family.
Webster - Went home to the Lord on February 5, 2021 just shy of her 99th birthday.

Predeceased by her parents John and Augusta Herbst Miller, sister Loretta Mooney, brothers Richard, Arthur and Edward. Survived by several nieces and nephews. She also leaves many dear and wonderful friends.

Born on a farm on Penfield Center Road, Dorothy was the youngest of five children and graduated from Webster High School in 1940. Her first job was at the former Sibley’s department store in Rochester. The bulk of her career, however, was spent at Eastman Kodak; she retired in March of 1982 after 41 years of service.

One of her greatest accomplishments was when she walked the streets of Irondequoit picking up bottles and cans for the 5-cent deposit from 1989 – 1997. Dorothy raised over $80,000 which she gave to the “poorest of the poor.” Some thought of her as homeless or “a bag lady." Her generosity for many religious orders, along with the school of the Holy Childhood, food cupboards, and churches of every denomination was appreciated throughout the community. She was an advocate for the vulnerable and the poor. She was an active member of the St. Ann’s Community for many years and Holy Trinity Parish. She was full of life and always gave more than she received. Thank you to the Maplewood Nursing Home and staff who cared for Dorothy during this challenging time.

Friends may attend her Funeral Mass on Friday, February 12th @10:00am at Holy Trinity Church, 1460 Ridge Road, Webster. Masks are required and social distancing will be observed. Interment will follow in Holy Trinity Cemetery. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to Holy Trinity Cemetery, 1460 Ridge Road, Webster. To view her Funeral Mass, go to and click on media and livestream.

The Autobiography of the Life of Dorothy K. Miller
November 2010

I, Dorothy K. Miller, a viable human being, entered the then quite complaisant world, adding to the growing population, desired and loved, on February 23, 1922. Days after birth, I was baptized into the Catholic faith.

One day, being left on the kitchen table, seemingly protected, my Mother went to the wall phone in the dining room to call and talk to her sister. She heard a noise from the kitchen and an outburst of tears. She found me on the floor - I had wiggled over the edge. Shocking!!!

As little children, we were in the fields with our mother - helping with the harvesting on the fifty-acre farm. I remember my older brother and me picking up potatoes that had surfaced via a digger. He would take three rows - two for him and one for me. I put the potatoes in piles, and I would get ahead of him and crawl upon an empty crate and go to sleep. He caught up to me, awakened me, and so on. In the hot summer days, we’d weed rows of carrots - eighty rods long - on our hands and knees. One time, they were so weedy; we could only weed three rows a day. In the fall, damp and cold days, we harvested carrots and put them in a huge pile and covered them with soil and carrot tops, waiting for a better price. When we dug them out, the mice lost their cozy home. I would come home from school, jump into my work clothes and turn the potato sorter to rate them as saleable or culls. The small ones (now sold as “salt potatoes” - costly) my dad fed to the pigs. We ate the rejects, only more work to prepare.

Hilarious, but true!!
Wheat and oats were harvested into shocks with binder twine and brought into the barn until threshing time. Every farm had one or two apple orchards. Every farmer made apple cider, which became hard cider. My mother always prayed that my father would not drink, as most farmers did. He would have a glass of cider at the barrel over a business transaction. Ginger Ale (big containers) was our social drink. On threshing day, my father would bring the cider barrel to the entrance of the cellar and put a glass under the tap, which always dripped. Threshing was a dusty, dirty job, and cider really cut the dirt breathed in. It must have been a very hot day; the women were preparing a banquet for the hungry men, and the men were busy in the barn. I was less than five years old, and probably thirsty. Someone found me at the cider barrel, drunk. I only remember the cellar stairs and a woman with me. Good consequences: ginger ale is like medicine to me - I drink it as I know it is good for me. No tea or coffee, no soft drinks, only milk. I went to a special Kodak dinner party. All went to the bar, but I stayed back. My boss came to me and asked if she could get anything for me. She suggested a glass of milk and asked the bartender for it. His reply was “Does she have an ulcer?”

A Test of Nerves
I came home from high school; my older brother was taking Regents exams. My father and brother had a full load of potatoes, stuck in the mud. My father drove the truck, my brother drove the big tractor hooked on, but could not budge. My brother asked me if I would drive a three-wheel tractor (two big wheels on the back and two small wheels, together on the front; a cub tractor.) We all pulled together. My cub, being the lightest machine, was standing on end. I held on and we got out of trouble. My brother remarked, “I didn’t think you would do it!” - successful ending. My father was a good provider and my mother a good cook.

School Daze
My home address was 1371 Penfield Center Rd., East Rochester, NY Rural Free Delivery (RFD). No home delivery. I was about one third mile from school, and my first day encounter found me coming home at recess time. I was immediately sent back to school. One day, as my older brother, a neighbor girl, and me - the youngest - walked to school, we skipped across a ditch on a board. Surprise!!! The board broke as I was on it and I fell into the water. I was drenched and had to go back home. I remember crying, as I could not go back to school - imagine that!!! The one room school - eight grades, one teacher, a potbelly stove for heat and making popcorn. My father was trustee of the school, and a neighbor was secretary. The books did not balance, so my father and sister poured over them to find the monetary discrepancy. Eventually, they found that the secretary had taken some money for his personal use. This annoyed my father, and he would not run for another term. I was transferred the next year to Holy Trinity School, in Webster. I graduated from Webster High School in 1940. Graduation night, a teacher offered to pay my college expenses, if I would go to college. I refused her gift, and it was the best decision I made. My first job was at Sibley’s Department store during the holidays. Then I studied for two weeks to prepare federal and state income tax returns for clients. Interesting. The Commissioner of Education of Buffalo had me file his returns. One businessman came with his records that didn’t balance; I had to find the error before I could complete his tax returns. On April 15, I applied for work at Kodak.

Eastman Kodak Co.
My first position at Kodak was that of a speed typist. Soon I was transferred to Research and Development Division. I did the testing on Kodacolor film before it was marketed. One providential feat prompted an opportunity to accept a big position with a group, doing special work for the director of the department, Photographic Technology Div. I was given a small piece of coated paper to test for quality before a huge coating would be permitted. In the dark room, I had to attach a leader to the small piece in order to thread it into a magazine, which would be attached to a printer. I had to advance the coated piece, by judgment, to the shutter of the printing machine. Providentially, when the piece was processed, my test was perfectly positioned. All the necessary data was produced, in color and density scales. I accepted the new position and worked for a nature photographer, listed in Who’s Who of America and rates with the top photographers in the world. She snapped the picture and I did the rest. She sold my prints, dye transfers - a lost art, for $1,000 a print. When I retired I was making sensitometric tablets for France. I was in the process of making the second one, when I left the company, almost 41 years of service.

Endeavors for the Poor and the Church
The arduous work on the 52-acre farm prepared me for the laborious future efforts for the poor and needy. I purchased my first car in 1950. I visited my sister, on a Saturday, six weeks before Christmas and was asked to drop off a donation for a box of Christmas cards received from Holy Angels Home on Winton Road, a home dedicated to helping girls of all faiths - incorrigibles, court cases. This was my first contact with the Sisters of Charity of the refuge, a semi-cloistered order. In the entry way were Christmas related articles for sale, as this was eight weeks prior to Christmas. I purchased what I could use and related to the Sisters at the turn, not being able to see them, and they were very grateful. On Sunday, I went to mass and the idea struck me - why don’t I go back and ask them if I can help them by selling their articles? They were delighted. I loaded my car with multiples of each article. I chose the Orchard Park area, above the Empire Blvd. Dugway, near the home to sell. I would come home from Kodak and jump into my car, park my car in the center of the street, and with a sample of my merchandise, go door-to-door. This was a nightly routine until eleven PM. This first year netted eight hundred dollars profit. One year, a woman made some home-made aprons for me to sell. The profit rose to a yearly fifteen hundred dollars.

My dad died in the fall of 1954. My mother would sit at the window, watching for my return; so I had to relinquish this project. I noted beautiful peaches on the ground - tree ripened, slightly bruised, but not saleable in the peach orchard across from the farm. I asked Earl Mack if I could pick them up for the home. He said yes. Again, I came home from Kodak, jumped into my old clothes and crawled under the trees until dark, then loaded my car and delivery. The nuns wrote him a “thank you” note and he remarked that this was the best note he had ever received.

Then I went to other farmers, begging for their unused produce: Chuck Schutt, peaches; Oscar Reiflin (later known as Happy Acres Golf Course), early cabbage heads; Harry Wingate gave me a whole field of turnips. Wilbert and Welch farms, cabbage; Joe Maier Farm dug missed carrots out of the earth one Sunday. I sensed a young deer, motionless, watching me. I picked beans at Rose Feldbaur and Fred Frenz Farms. Hilda Kaler gave me baskets of beans, unsold from the market. One Sunday, I harvested a truckload of cabbage, and threw heads to the poor in Downtown Rochester.

Unfortunate Occurrence
I borrowed my brother’s truck, which was handy for loading crates of produce collected. My cousin helped me harvest. We loaded and secured empty baskets; but in the dug way, wind dislodged a basket and it blew off, hitting the fender of a police car following me. The policeman was very nice, no damage. My cousin must have told my sister-in-law about the incident, and she tole me that I couldn’t take the truck again. This created a hardship, as I had to load crates into my station wagon, which was difficult.

After I had to stop my selling project for Holy Angels Home, I started a dollar-a-month donation project for the home. Father Tom Brown, and oblate of Mary Immaculate Order Priest from Rochester, working in Brazil Missions, asked me to start a quarter-a-month donation over a cup of coffee. Eventually, I had three monetary projects working - Holy Angels Home, Brazil Missions and The Carmelites, a cloistered order dedicated to prayer and sacrifice for the world. Gas prices were not prohibitive then, and I would travel to various towns to collect from my friends. All cash and donations for mass intentions were recorded. Brazil missions, close to $100,000. The Cenacle sisters, fancy-clothed dolls to sell; and this was another project.

The biggest and most rewarding project happened very unexpectedly. My friend, Eloise Weber and I were walking in Hudson Avenue Plaza one day, when she bent down and picked up an empty container of pop. My remark was, “That’s dirty,” and her reply was, “It’s worth a nickel.”

A New Project Emerged
Take note of this - for eight years, seven days a week, from early morning until late in the day, I walked the streets of Irondequoit, searching and picking up cans and bottles. Eventually, I had a route to pick up collections from interested suppliers. At first, they had to be sorted according to brand and manufacturer, boxes all over the cellar floor, as sorting bins. Eventually, Wegmans knew what I was doing, and allowed me to bring in big bags worth twelve dollars each, no piece meal deal. I picked up coins or dug them out of the tar on the streets. Often, I found wallets lost in the parking lots. I carefully searched for an address and called the owner, and told them that they had to personally come and retrieve it, intact. I told them why I found it and sometimes they would give me a donation. Eloise, a special person, would come and help me count the money, on the steps in the hallway of the apartment complex. A family would throw loose change in a jar; and each month I would find it with their containers on their front porch. Becket Hall, the seminarians, would have a jar with coins for the poor each month. Because, I was responsible for the proper disposition of another’s monies, I made sure that it was used for the poorest of the poor in totality. One of the nuns at Holy Angels Home had two priest cousins in the Franciscan Capuchin order in Pittsburgh, PA helping the missions in Papua, New Guinea. When a monthly letter arrived from me, they were overjoyed, as they knew the check would be a big one. Eventually, I had to stop, but not until I had reached over $72,000. Eternal blessings for all who participated.

Story Time
I had returned two big bags of containers at Wegmans, worth $24. I was in the checkout lane, with the two slips in my left hand at my side. When I raised my arm to cash out, I only had one slip. I looked at the floor, thinking I had dropped one. A woman and her daughter were behind me, and the woman said “ Did you lose something?” They looked too. I think the mother gently pulled one from my hand - I had no proof; so I lost $12. The poor did not lose, as I replaced it with my money. Sometime later at a checkout, I saw a folded $50 bill on the floor. I picked it up and when I unfolded it, there were two of them - $100 for the poor - over four times rewarded.

One day at the plaza, a truck kept edging up as I was on the sidewalk. When it was next to me a young girl rolled down the window and handed me $2. She thought I was poor. I explained what I was doing and she insisted that I take the money. This was a dirty job and I looked the part in dress. This young couple was an inspiration to me, and will reap their reward. In the heat, the cold, the rain fishing in the dumpsters, searching for coins, meeting new people, the reward was instantaneous, because it was all inspired. Delightfully motivated.

One day a man followed me for a distance, as he worried that a man, with ill intent was following, until he went in another direction. A photographer, unknown to me, followed me and took pictures. Later I was referred to him, when I wanted an event that I was hosting, photographed. When I picked up the album, he gave me a Catholic Forester magazine that contained an article and pictures he had taken pertaining to my can project. This was a delightful surprise.

Forgotten projects
Emergency Mass scheduling ( sickness, accident, surgery, sudden death ) through the Basilian Fathers at Aquinas Institute. A big project, until the shortage of priests occurred. Now I have picked up the consoling and efficacious opportunity to assist others in their immediate, perplexing situations by scheduling Masses through the Franciscan/Capuchin Mission Office in Pittsburgh, PA. I can call seven days a week and schedule special Masses offered the following day. These masses can be requested for any occasion; but the joy of being a part of someone’s life, when no other help is available is so rewarding. I am available for your requests.

Holy Spirit Church, Penfield, NY. I donated an out-door statue of the Sacred Heart and after the Mass and blessing invited 300 for a catered dinner.

Holy Trinity Church, Webster, NY. My grandparents were the first couple to be married at Holy Trinity Church. The Trinity Life Center was the recipient of large donations: Complete set of gold vestments, handmade in France; activated the bell in the tower; hooked up the telephone intercom system; big gang mower; big candlestick holders; censer; responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars to see the Center come to fruition. We had a raffle, and I donated a large screen television. I walked door to door in the parish selling tickets and ended up selling over 1/4 of all the tickets sold.

Inspirational Thoughts
We only need faith the size of a mustard seed, and God will work miracles in and through us.

Recently, three of us were together, and we said a prayer for a dying person; she has miraculously recovered. God was in our midst.

Listen!!! God is speaking to us, will we respond?????
Let God shape your life; incredible things could happen and often do.

One day, we will all have to give an accounting of our stewardship, no recourse! Eternity is without end.

I am indebted to all who have shared in my life.

P.S.: Dear Reader:
May our hearts intertwine, and chime alleluias forever!!! Amen.
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Service Details

  • Service

    Friday February 12th, 2021 | 10:00am
    Friday February 12th, 2021 10:00am
    Holy Trinity Church
    1460 Ridge Road
    Webster, New York 14580
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Interment

    Holy Trinity Cemetery
    1460 Ridge Rd.
    WEBSTER, NY 14580
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Online Memory & Photo Sharing Event

    Online Event

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    In Loving Memory Of

    Dorothy Miller

    February 23, 1922 - February 5, 2021

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Eve Elzenga

Posted at 06:51pm
To Dear, Blessed Dorothy, I did not have the privilege of knowing you but I wish I could have. I read your obituary and was so moved. I know that you truly were an angel on earth. Thank you for caring for the forgotten people. It could so easily be any of us. Your story will inspire me forever. You will not be forgotten. Eve Elzenga, Rochester, NY

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