March 11, 1919 – September 5, 2019
Eva Mendel Miller, 100, of Calgary, passed away peacefully at 2:30 AM, September 5th, with her family by her side. She leaves behind her three daughters: Susan Bixby (Chris), Linda Crawford (Dale) and Deborah Miller (Jay Winans). She also leaves six grandchildren: Benjamin (Jennifer), Miriam (Eric), Joshua (Jillian), Jonathan (Shannon), Andrew (Nina) and Elizabeth, nine great-grandchildren, and her very dear friends.
She was born to Frederick S and Claire Mendel on March 11, 1919 in the town of Recklinghausen, Germany. The family later moved to Berlin, but fled the country in 1933, the year Hitler came to power. As Jews, they kept one step ahead of German annexation, fleeing to Poland, then Hungary and Vienna, and finally settling in Saskatoon in 1940.
Throughout her life, Eva was devoted to visual beauty. She studied painting with some of the leading artists of her day, including Hans Hoffman, George Grosz and Goodridge Roberts. Eva was an accomplished oil painter and watercolorist, and in later years concentrated on collage. Her works have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in France and Canada since the early 1940s. Eva was a gifted colorist, and her brilliant color harmonies grace many homes and galleries. Eva’s artistic talent even led to one of her family’s closest escapes from the Nazis: she forged their passports to remove all traces of their Jewish heritage.
Eva inspired her father to begin his collection of modern paintings, including both European expressionists like Emile Nolde and George Grosz and Canadian artists like Emily Carr and Lauren Harris. She advised him on the purchases which eventually formed the nucleus of the Mendel Gallery, for many years Saskatoon’s premier cultural institution.
After moving to Canada, Eva showed her gratitude to her adoptive country by doing intelligence work in Ottawa. She was commended by the Royal Canadian Navy for decoding a message to a German prisoner of war, which pinpointed the location of the German battle cruiser the Graf Spee. The ship was scuttled soon afterward. She married her husband, the late doctor of tropical medicine Max Miller, in 1947. She traveled with him and her growing family all over the world, from India to Africa to Australia to her favorite city, New Orleans, before moving to Calgary. While other American and Canadian expatriates socialized in their tight, welldefined groups, Eva immersed herself fearlessly in local culture.
Eva had an unparalleled love of life and its small moments of joy. She passed on that appreciation, as well as the gifts of music, poetry, and visual arts, to her three daughters. Her lust for life never flagged. She may have been happiest the last 10 years of her long life, when she lived at Garrison Green Senior Center. She woke up every morning inspired by the color harmonies she had thought of during the night, which she turned into beautiful collages. Her studio was always full of tiny bits of coloured paper, threatening to take over the whole apartment. Her daughters would clean the piles of paper up, and then they would miraculously reappear.
Eva’s gratitude for the richness of her existence was palpable, especially later in her life. Shortly before her death, she said: “Life is fantastically beautiful. I’m overly happy. It’s indecent to be this happy.” Every day, she shared that thankfulness with whomever she encountered. She was quietly compassionate to those in need; her loved ones only found out about her many acts of kindness much later, when others praised her for her warmth and generosity.
Eva was attuned to the mysterious in life, to the unspoken, to the world of the imagination. A few weeks before she died, she said: “I don’t know if this is a dream or real, but whatever it is, it is wonderful”. Condolences may be forwarded through www.McInnisandHolloway.com.
In living memory of Eva Miller, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Park Memorial, 5008 Elbow Drive SW, Calgary, AB, T2S 2L5, Telephone: 403-243-8200.Print This Obituary & Condolences