MARTHA EUGENIA MILLER
Martha Eugenia Miller was born in San Jose, Costa Rica July 28, 1945 to Alberto Villalobos Abarca and Rosalbina Morales Alfaro, the oldest of four children. She passed away surrounded by family on March 1, 2020. Martha graduated from Liceo San Jose and studied linguistics at the University of Costa Rica. She taught Spanish as a second language at Instituto de Lengua Espanola where she met and taught many of the Goshen College SST students who would become her lifelong friends. She also taught Spanish at the Country Day School, an English school where she met and fell in love with her husband Henry. They were united in marriage July 4, 1972. A family soon followed with the birth of their first son, Esteban, in Costa Rica in 1973. They moved to the United States in 1974 and planted roots near Henry’s family in Constantine, Michigan. Soon these roots flourished into a growing family tree with three more sons: Eduardo, Roberto, and Ricardo. Their careers also flourished in the new direction of farming and Martha quickly adapted to her new roles as farmer and mother to a pack of rambunctious boys. She bravely navigated a new culture and country and nurtured her children to grow up knowing their Costa Rican heritage.
Martha was a faithful member of the Florence Church of the Brethren Mennonite Church in Constantine. She was an avid soccer fan, watching as many games as she could. She also found time to volunteer her Spanish interpretation services to the courts and hospitals.
Martha had a deep and profound love of the environment and always sought to protect it. While she was proud of sending her sons to the University of Michigan, she spent 10 years working for Michigan State University Extension as an educator with special emphasis on outreach to the Spanish-speaking community. This role often encompassed duties above and beyond her official job title. Martha served on the St. Joseph County Transportation Authority and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect Councils. Martha formed many deep and meaningful friendships in the course of this work and throughout her life. Michigan State University awarded Henry and Martha their Distinguished Service Award for their lifetime of service to their community and agriculture.
Martha believed in living out one’s ideals every day and showing compassion and tolerance towards others and their cultures. She deeply prized family and believed in the power of individuals to make change in the world through conscientious consumerism, fair trade, and acknowledgement of the inherent value of people from all walks of life. She also recognized the value of small scale efforts to produce art, food, holistic medications, and coffee. She was a bright light which will be missed but which left an indelible imprint on her community.
She is survived by her husband Henry, mother Rosalbina, brothers Adalberto and Leonidas, sister Rosa in Costa Rica, her son Esteban and wife Mary, son Eduardo, son Roberto and wife Autumn, and son Ricardo and wife Meritt. She is also survived by her grandchildren Porter, Sadie, Josiah, Kaelan, Elias, and Maya. In-laws Glenn and Wilma Miller, Eugene and Tena Miller, and Amanda Castleman, as well as a large number of loving nieces and nephews in Costa Rica, the United States, Canada, and Germany. With Martha, if you were a friend then you were family.
“Though she be but little she is fierce.” -Shakespeare
According to her wishes, cremation has taken place. Relatives and friends will be received on Thursday, March 5 from 5-8 p.m., Friday, March 6 from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at Eley Funeral Home, Centreville, Michigan. A celebration of life service will be held on Saturday, March 7 at 2 p.m. at Riverview Christian Fellowship 69212 S. U.S. 131, White Pigeon, Michigan 49099.
The family invites people to bring written memories or pictures to add to a memory box that will remain in their home.
Memorial contributions can be given in honor of Martha to PANCAN (Pancreatic Cancer Action Network) and Florence Church Dreamer Fund. Online messages can be left for the family at www.eleyfuneralhomes.com.