March 24 service set for job counselor Susanna M. Miller, 73

A funeral service will be held Saturday, March 24, for Susanna Masters Miller, 73, formerly of Philadelphia, a social worker and career counselor who died Friday, Feb. 2, of heart disease at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington.

Camera icon Courtesy of the family
Susanna Masters Miller

Mrs. Miller had moved to Burlington in 2014 to be close to her daughter. She lived at St. Joseph’s Residential Home, where, despite failing health, she wrote poetry and prose. In her 2017 Christmas letter, Mrs. Miller noted that she had lived longer than either of her parents.

Born in Seattle, Mrs. Miller moved cross-country with her parents,  Robert Edmund Masters and Betty Williams. She grew up in Moylan-Rose Valley and graduated from Nether Providence High School, now Strath Haven High School. While there, she earned varsity letters in basketball, lacrosse, and field hockey.

As a girl, Mrs. Miller spent every summer at Camp Archbald, a Girl Scout camp in Kingsley, Susquehanna County. She loved all aspects of camping — pitching a tent, building a campfire, hiking, swimming, and canoeing.

In 1966, Mrs. Miller graduated from Alfred (N.Y.) University with a bachelor of arts degree in sociology. In 1969, she received a master of social work degree from New York University.

After doing social work in New York for several years, she applied to General Electric Co.’s employee relations management program and was the third woman to be accepted, said her son, Steven Miller.

In 1969, she was assigned to work in GE’s Power System Field Sales office in Newark, N.J., where she met Karl F. Miller, whom she married in 1972. Mrs. Miller’s second GE assignment was to the company’s light-bulb factory, also in Newark.

“She was particularly proud of helping several women to move up from custodial work to well-paid positions as mechanics,” Karl Miller said.

In 1972, the Millers moved to Schenectady, N.Y., where she worked as director of the Union College Office of Career Counseling and Placement.  She persuaded college officials to create a day-care center for the children of faculty and staff.

Six years later, the Millers moved to Philadelphia. Mrs. Miller became assistant director of the Office of Career Counseling and Placement at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  “She loved it,” said her son.

In the late 1980s, she was hired as a career counselor at the nonprofit Options for Women, part of Women’s Way.

“She was always very attuned to women,” said her son. “Beyond that, she was interested in connecting on a very human level with people.”

Many of her activities were to further women’s causes. In 1992, Mrs. Miller worked on Democratic challenger Lynn Yeakel’s campaign for U.S. Senate. Yeakel, a political novice, came within 113,000 votes of unseating Republican Sen. Arlen Specter. Specter won 48 percent of the vote, Yeakel 46 percent.

In the mid-1990s, Mrs. Miller worked as director of development at the Foundation for Architecture, now defunct. She recruited students in the Philadelphia area for her alma mater, Alfred, and later was an adviser to Girls Inc., a nonprofit that works to empower girls and young women . She had been retired for the last decade.

A lifelong Episcopalian, Mrs. Miller was a 30-year member of St. Peter’s Church in Philadelphia. She served on the vestry and went with the choir of men and boys on trips overseas.

Her son said Mrs. Miller was feisty and direct. “She didn’t care about pretense. She wanted the world to be a little bit kinder than it was,” he said.

Mrs. Miller and her husband separated in 1986 and divorced in the early 2000s, although they remained friends.

She enjoyed summers in Harvey Cedars at the Jersey Shore.

Besides her son and former husband, Mrs. Miller is survived by daughter Sarah Miller Maher; two grandsons; a sister; and several nieces and nephews.

A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 24, at St. Peter’s Church, 313 Pine St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19106. Interment will follow in the church graveyard.

Memorial contributions may be made to Women’s Way, 123 S. Broad St., Suite 1320, Philadelphia, Pa. 19109 or info@womensway.org; St Joseph’s Residential Home, 243 N. Prospect St., Burlington, Vt. 05401; or St. Peter’s Church at the address above.