Barbara Ellen Miller, 81

Barbara Ellen Miller, age 81 of rural Belle Plaine died peacefully at home on March 21, 2020 surrounded by her loving, devoted husband Val and family after a courageous battle with cancer.  Barbara was born September 20, 1938 to Lester and Helen (Dryer) Scholl in Salem, South Dakota and grew up near St. Peter, MN. She married the love her life, Val Miller on September 20, 1953 and for 66 wonderful years they were an inseparable team.  It was rare to see one without the other.

Marrying in their teens, their life is a true Rags to Riches story. Living in their 1st home for 6 years they had no running water and used peach crates as furniture. Together, they raised 15 children. Through hard work, perseverance and strength of character they worked tirelessly, side by side amassing their acreage until present day; in their 80’s they continued to operate their modern farm using advanced technology and agricultural practices.

Barb was a woman in a male-dominated world.  She single-handedly prepared 2000 acres for planting in spring and in summer drove her own Kenworth semi hauling hundreds of loads of grain to market each year.  In the fall, while Val harvested the crop she transported the hundreds of loads of grain home in their semis and monitored the grain dryer.  After harvest, she and Val together worked the fields for the next season.  She truly was a woman ahead of her time, proving that there isn’t men’s work and women’s work but just work.

Aside from farming, Barb was a devoted Mother, Grandmother and Great-grandmother.  Holidays at the Miller home were legendary and were cherished events for her family.  Her motto was:  You don’t need to be invited, you are always welcome here.  Every Christmas Barb shopped tirelessly finding the perfect gift for each and every one of her 140+ family members.  She had a notebook in her purse with every gift that she had ever given each family member to avoid duplicates.  She baked dozens of pies for every holiday, never using recipes and served a traditional holiday dinner for over 100 making it look easy.

In Barb’s “spare” time she loved to crochet.  Lovingly stitching each grandchild their baptismal gown; Afghans, doilies, doll clothes and stuffed animals are treasured heirlooms.

In another male dominated field, Barb was renowned in the Tractor Pulling world for over 50 years. She broke stereotypes, filled the stands with her fans and filled their home with trophies. While late into her 70’s she thrilled the crowds as she maneuvered her turbo-charged JD6030 down the track leaving massive black plumes of smoke behind her.

Barb was a woman who lived life to its fullest.  She taught her family how to work hard, play hard, laugh often and most importantly that family is first. She was incredibly proud of her large family. While most mothers or grandmothers carry photos of their families, Barb carried a smart phone and an i-pad and would proudly swipe through her photo gallery to share family photos with anyone she met. Her greatest love was her family.

Barb leaves behind the love of her life and husband of 66 years, Val, her children, Suzanne Simonette (special friend Jerry Plonski), MaryLou (Bill) Jewison, Douglas (Diane) Miller, Patricia (Roger) Weiers, Rita (Clayton) Prahl, Michael (Allie) Miller, James Miller, Barbie (Al) Schwartz, Lisa (Scott) Eide, Charles (MaryEllen) Miller, Billy (Kelly) Miller, Tammy (Brett) Simon, Cynthia (Craig) Mandery, Val (Theresa) Miller, Becky (Roth) Knight.

Grandchildren: Suzanne: Tina (Brock) Mader, Robert (Liana) Simonette; MaryLou: David (Ellen) Jewison, Julie (Grant) Schultz, Katie (Kevin) Johnson, Jennifer (William) Mason;  Doug: Cathleen, Peter (Kat), Brian, Daniel, Tony Miller, Rachel (Steve) Liebhard, Mark (special friend Erica Marckason), Jeffrey (deceased), Annie, Nicole, Adam, Sam & Steve Miller; Patricia: Joseph (Lauren), Matthew (Elaina), Abigail, Margaret (Drew Gorman) Weiers; Rita: Leah (Jamie Harmon), Laura (fiancé Pablo Reyes) Prahl, Lexi (Ted) Martin, Chas (Addie) Prahl; Michael: Andy (fiancé Heidi Schiesser), Megan, Amanda and Michael Miller; Barbie: Brett (Kelsey), Miranda and Jessica Schwartz; Lisa: Nicholas (deceased), Nate (fiancé Geena Whalen), Ellen (fiancé Max Meyers), Ben and Tom Eide; Charles: Alyssa (fiancé Dylan Deegan) Filand, Callie Jo, Lauren, Alison Miller; Billy: Emily, Tyler, Ashley and Olivia Miller; Tammy: Carline, Mason, Lindsey and Addison Simon; Cynthia: Jacob, Samantha and Emma Dresselhaus; Val: Ella, Luke and Valerian Miller; Becky: Brennan, Odin and Miller Knight.

Great-Grandchildren: Suzanne: Ethan and Riley Mader, Lyla and Willa Simonette; MaryLou: Lauren, William, Claire, Kate, Cora and Sam Jewison, Isabella, Gavin, Colin and Elizabeth Schultz, Landon, Tyson, Preston, Addison and Trenton Johnson, Cooper Mason; Douglas: Kaytlyn, Gavyn, Paul and Charlotte Miller, Aidan, Alex and Dorothy Liebhard; Patricia: Madelyn, Hannah, Grace, Jack, Mollie and Violet Weiers; Rita: Lydia, Benton, Lillian and James Prahl-Harmon, Carter and Clinton Prahl; Charles: Lee and Henry Deegan.

In cooperation with the guidelines set forth by the CDC and MN Dept. of Health during the current health crisis, services will be scheduled and announced at a later time.

A memorial webpage for Barb has been created.  To view or share condolences please visit:


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