Joan Benson Miller made her debut to this world on July 5, 1927, in New Haven Connecticut. Her celebrated performance ran for 92 years, closing on Jan. 1, 2020, in Cary, N.C.
She was predeceased by her parents, Ray Benson and Ida Leach; brother Ray Benson Jr.; and husband Arthur B. Miller. Joan is survived by her sons Ray B. Miller of Galesburg, Ill., and Reid B. Miller of Cary, N.C.; 10 grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; and four great-great-grandchildren.
Joan grew up in New Haven, Conn., and Kew Gardens, Queens, New York, where her father wrote a Field and Stream column for the New Haven Register. He was executive secretary of Ducks Unlimited and played a central role in historic legislation establishing wetlands and protecting migratory birds.
Educated at Finch College (now Marymount College), and Barnard College of Columbia University, Joan loved the theater and also studied psychology.
After graduating from Barnard at age 22, Joan joined the Army Special Services in 1950. One of the youngest women to join the Special Services, she boarded a train from New York City to Seattle, Washington, and then a troop ship to Japan on which she met her future husband, Maj. Arthur B. Miller.
As an Army Special Services recreation director, she ran Army service clubs, planned recreational activities for soldiers and booked professional performers in Japan.
When the Korean War broke out, Joan was sent from Tokyo to the central city of Sasebo where she provided card games, entertainment, diversions and what reassurance she could to the soldiers who were embarking to the battle in Korea.
After his recovery from wounds sustained in Korea, Arthur and Joan were married in Queens, N.Y., then eventually settled in Baltimore, Md. They had two sons, Ray and Reid. Joan was employed as a social worker at The Rosewood State Training School and later attended Goucher College, where she received her M.A. in education in 1963.
Joan taught third and fourth graders in Maryland and Pennsylvania for 25 years.
She enjoyed camping across the U.S with her boys. Later after her husband died in 1979, she enjoyed traveling through Europe, the British Isles, Ireland, Scandinavia, Russia, Greece and Turkey.
Moving to Gettysburg, in 1968, and teaching elementary school in nearby Arendtsville, Joan, a life-long lover of music and theater, was later active as a program director and actor with Gettysburg’s “Senior Acts,” a reading theater group for the retired. She was a member of the National Story Tellers Association, the local arts council and the Performing Arts Center. She was a member of the Gettysburg Presbyterian Church and a contributing member of the Gettysburg Public Library.
Over the years she was a member of the Gettysburg Walking Club, New Comers Club, AARP, 1776 Historic Preservation Society of Gettysburg-Adams County, Gettysburg Historic Society, Adams County Chapter Pennsylvania Association of School Retirees, Volunteers for Eisenhower National Historic Site, YWCA Elderhostel Program, and was the first chair of the Holiday Bureau when it was converted from direction by Wives of the Gettysburg Seminarians to the Gettysburg Holiday Bureau.
She will always be remembered fondly by her closest friends and family as a glamorous, beautiful, courageous and zany “Drama Queen.”
Memorial services will be held at the Gettysburg Presbyterian Church, on May 2, 2020, at 11 a.m.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Gettysburg Presbyterian Church, 208 Baltimore St., Gettysburg, PA 17325.