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Remembering Joan Miller

Joan Miller, AFHS member, passes awayBarbara "Joan" Miller (nee Kerr) passed peacefully on 4 January 2013, in Calgary, surrounded by her family after a courageous journey with stomach cancer.


Joan was born on 7 March 1953 in Watrous, Saskatchewan. She was predeceased by her grandparents William (Bill) Irvine and Isabel (Woodland) Irvine and Homer and Elizabeth (Wilson) Kerr, and father Edward John Kerr in 1983. She is survived by her mother Elizabeth (Betty) Kerr (Irvine) of Calgary, by her best friend and loving husband of 37 years, Reg W Miller, son Kevin Miller (Dorlisa Lam) of Calgary, daughter Heather Miller of Calgary, siblings, William (Bill) Kerr (Pam and daughter Yasmine) of Calgary, Ellen (Kerr) McClughan (Neil and son Scott) of Regina, Mother-in-law Yvonne E. Miller (nee Aumack) of Trail, BC, brother-in-law Gordon Miller (Kathy Hudspith and daughters Jessica and Kariann) of Victoria, BC, brother-in-law Hugh Miller (Gail Gabana and children Andrea, Nicholas, and Joseph) of Trail, BC, as well as numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.


Joan grew up on the PFRA pasture at Hatfield near Nokomis, Saskatchewan. The eldest of 3 children, Joan started school in a one room school in Hatfield and then went on to finish Grade 12 in Nokomis. Childhood activities included Girl Guides, swimming lessons, helping with "round up" and the many visits from cousins.  Joan took her postsecondary in Saskatoon, obtaining her Diploma in Biological Sciences.
She briefly worked at SaskTel for a summer position where she met soulmate.

Joan married Reg in the Nokomis United Church on 5 July 1975 and they lived in Calgary where their two children, Kevin and Heather were born. She worked at the University of Calgary for 34 years as Technologist and Lab Manager - Medical Research labs, retiring in the fall of 2009.

Joan was a genetic genealogist who used DNA technology and social media to complement traditional genealogy research. This included Y-DNA project administrator and coordinator for the Alberta Family Histories Society (AFHS) DNA Special Interest Group.  She was a member of the Genealogical Speakers Guild, the International Society of Genetic Genealogists and various other genealogy societies.  Joan wrote a regular column for the Alberta Family Histories Society and served on the Public Relations committee. She also created the Luxegen Genealogy Blog which was named in Family Tree Magazine's Top 40 Blogs of 2011. She served as an Official Blogger for Rootstech 2011.

Joan inherited the genealogy gene from her maternal grandmother Isabel Irvine who was a family historian and great story teller. Her grandfather Bill Irvine kept a diary for 60 years! It was inevitable that one of the grandchildren would be interested in pursuing their roots and that was Joan. Joan also was very active with volunteering in Toastmaster International where she worked her way through the various levels receiving her Distinguished Toastmaster Designation in January 2012.


Joan loved the diversity of cultures and enriched her life through travels to many countries. Joan led an active life filled with activities such as soccer, skiing, qigong and hiking.  She will be missed by all whose lives she touched.

The family would like to greatly thank the staff at Tom Baker Cancer Centre. They would also like to acknowledge the incredible care and compassion they showed on her passing. Finally they would like to thank Dr. Easaw, Dr. Wiens and Colleen Cathbert for all their care and efforts in this journey.


In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Kiva Genealogist for Families project; empower people around the world at http://www.kiva.org/team/genealogists


A Celebration of Life Service for Joan will be held on Saturday, 12 January 2013 at 2:00 pm at the Thornhill Baptist church in Calgary, Alberta.