Lorraine C. Miller, 98, of Quincy, Washington, passed peacefully into the next life on Saturday, February 8, 2020 with family by her side.
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Lorraine was born in Lodi, California on December 20, 1921 to Gottlieb and Lydia (Mettler) Reiman and grew up in Lodi with her younger brother Alvin and sister Viola. Because German was the only language spoken at home, she had a slow start in first grade, but quickly caught up once she mastered English and got over her shyness.
At 17 she married Henry (Hank) D. Miller in Lodi and they started their family in California’s Central Valley where Hank worked in the wine industry and farmed independently, and Lorraine was a homemaker.
In 1950 they purchased a dairy in Galt, Calif., but after only a few years decided that row crop farming in the Quincy Valley would be a better fit. Lorraine’s grandfather, Michael Reiman had homesteaded in the area and with the Columbia River water available for irrigation of farms they became part of the migration to the newly thriving Quincy Valley. To raise their family of six Hank and Lorraine designed and built a large ranch house on the farm northwest of Quincy. Even though Hank passed away suddenly in 1973, Lorraine continued to live in the farmhouse.
In the fall of 1973 she began working at the Quincy School District Administration office as a bookkeeper – a skill acquired by keeping the farm books –and she continued there until retirement in 1988.
Lorraine was always active in organizations and creative activities that interested her, and she was never content to be just a member of a club. Early on she learned Robert’s Rules of Order and at one point cleaned the shelves of the kids’ bookstore of all copies of that little book in order to educate other club members. She served on boards in her church, National Iris Society, PTA, Business & Professional Women, League of Women Voters, Garden Club, Senior Center, American Historical Society of Germans from Russia and more.
When the girls were in school, and as an excellent cook and seamstress, she led a 4-H group. For a number of years she did oil painting and ceramics with groups of friends. She tried her hand at knitting and made a few sweaters.
After retirement she spent time researching and recording her family genealogy. But, her favorite activity that began early on upon their arrival in Quincy was All Things Iris. A friend had given her a couple of iris rhizomes for the farmhouse yard and it began her lifelong infatuation with the flower. While known as Rainey by her siblings and Gramma Raine by her grandkids, she was known by most locals as the Iris Lady. Lorraine was responsible for providing and planting most of the iris that continue to bloom every spring in Quincy along Highways 28 and 281.
Lorraine wasn’t content just enjoying the many different colors and types of iris in her yard. With all of them charted and identified, she worked hard at sharing them with others and attended multiple national conventions over the years. When she couldn’t bear to discard the multiplying iris rhizomes in her yard, she made it her business to spread her favorite flower far and wide. Indeed, beginning in 1990 Lorraine’s Iris Patch annual catalog was born and delivered upon request across the country. She spent her springs and early summers filling and sending orders to old and new customers until she was no longer able to remain at the farmhouse in 2007.
After 53 years and at 86 years of age, Lorraine acknowledged that the large farmhouse with its huge yard had become too much for her to maintain. Her greatest concern was finding homes for her iris.
Her grandson had purchased a small home at Lakeview Golf & Country Club near Soap Lake, Wash. where rehab of the small 1950’s house was underway. She was somewhat impressed with the house and coming improvements, but her eye was on the yard, which although covered in lawn, she saw as a blank slate for iris with the bonus of an automatic sprinkler system. While some people thought a move to a new community was extreme at this late-in-life transition, Lorraine was unfazed and quickly began transferring iris rhizomes, multiple bulb varieties and other root stock from the farmhouse yard. On Mother’s Day 2007 she made the 27-mile move to her new community.
She joined the local Garden Club and Senior Center and began a new life while maintaining her old connections in Quincy.Sometime during that first summer at Lakeview, a batch of newly weaned kittens appeared under a Delphinium plant in her back yard. Even though her rental agreement on the newly rehabbed home had a pet exclusion, Lorraine could not bear to part with all of them. She gave away all but a little female she named Delphi who has been her companion ever since.
When she suffered a severe TIA in early 2013, she consent¬ed to give up her driver’s license, but not her cat, and moved to the Cambridge assisted living facility in Quincy where she began a Friday afternoon Dominoes group, learned to play Rummicub and encouraged a Pinochle group with fellow residents who did not play Bridge.
Not surprisingly, many of her flowers moved right along with her and continue to brighten the Cambridge grounds today, even though she gave up their care, but not the supervision thereof, early on.
Lorraine is survived by her four children Larry D. Miller, Henry R. (KayLyn) Miller, Pamela I. Mortisen, and Christine D. (Dennis) Hooyer along with eight grandchildren: Jodi (Rob) Husband, Jeff (Jaimie) Miller, Wade (Angie) Miller, Erika (Bryan) Ribble, Jason Miller, Derek (Renee) Mortisen, Karyn (Greg) Becker and Martin (Anna) Hooyer; and 18 great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her husband Henry D. Miller; brother Alvin Reiman; sister Viola LaCroix; and eight half-siblings.
Interment will be at the Quincy Cemetery at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020 and a Celebration of Her Life will follow at 11 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 715 North Central Avenue in Quincy.
Please leave a memory for the family or sign their online guestbook at www.scharbachs.com.
Scharbach’s Columbia Funeral Chapel, Quincy, is assisting the family with arrangements.