Friends, family remember life of Marilyn Miholer
THREE RIVERS — Ask anyone who knew Marilyn Miholer what she was like as a person, and they would probably have the same kind words for her: she was a kind, gracious, and creative person.
Miholer passed away on Oct. 22, 2019, at the age of 93. Born on Sept. 15, 1926 in Richmond, Ind. as the eldest daughter of Russell and Bernadetta Neff, she attended Three Rivers Community Schools, and graduated with honors with the Three Rivers High School Class of 1944.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 1948 from the University of Michigan as the first in her immediate family to attend college. Later on, she was named an Emeritus Scholar by the University of Michigan, where she was also a lifetime member of the UM Alumni Association.
In 1954, along with her husband Thomas, the two took over ownership of Neff’s Flower Shop in Three Rivers, which they owned for 60 years and became staples in the Three Rivers community.
Anna Smith, who worked at Neff’s for 16 years as her first job out of high school, said Marilyn was a “gracious, thoughtful, and kind” person.
“She cared about her employees and she cared about her family, customers, and everyone,” Smith said. “I never heard her say a bad word, she was always just a nice person and very intelligent.”
Smith said the best part about working with Miholer was that she was a “good teacher” and “tried to help everyone be the best person they could be.” Smith recalled a time when Miholer’s dedication to help people shone through as a Sunday School teacher at First United Methodist Church.
“I helped her with Sunday School for a while, and there was a little girl there that didn’t come from the best of circumstances,” Smith said. “Marilyn, besides working with her on Sundays, decided to bring her into the flower shop for a little while now and then, just to see another part of life. She was trying to expand this little girl’s horizons, and try to bring some joy in her life and some meaning in her life. That was the kind of person she was.”
Mary Miholer O’Connor, Marilyn’s daughter-in-law, worked at Neff’s for 15 years between 1975 and 1990. She remembered the shop being a “gathering place” in town.