In Celebration of

Merilyn Norma Ruth "Ming" Miller

November 2, 1932 -  November 6, 2020

Merilyn Norma Ruth Coffin MILLER

Merilyn passed away peacefully on Friday, November 6, 2020 after a brief struggle with COVID-19. Merilyn was the beloved wife of 67 years to Russell and loving mother of Nancy (Joe) Williams, Rick, and Andrew (Lana Phillips).

Merilyn was also the proud Nana of Katrina (Raphael), Jennifer (Scott), Jonathan, Danielle (Kyle), Ryan and Brandon, and Great Nana of Violet, Adelyne, Charlotte, Leo and Isla. Merilyn was also the darling sister of late Leigh (Marjorie) Coffin, Myrna (late Rick) Landers, late Sandy (late Kathy) Coffin, and affectionate aunt to many nieces and nephews.

Merilyn and her twin brother Leigh were born in Farewell Cove, Gaspé, Québec in 1932 to Alec and Dolly (Boyle) Coffin. Tragically, Dolly passed away shortly after their birth, and their aunt Marion helped her brother raise the infant twins.

Once finished high school, Merilyn moved to Montréal where she met Russell, a handsome young man also from Gaspé, who would soon be her husband.

Merilyn and Russell lived for many years in Murdochville, Quebec, eventually moving to Ottawa, where she greatly enjoyed working at the Canadian War Museum Archives.

Following retirement Merilyn volunteered with several organizations including the Council on Aging of Ottawa, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and was a therapeutic cuddler of premature newborns for whom she also knit tiny hats.

Throughout her life, Merilyn had the great pleasure of keeping in touch with a vast network of family and friends. She was always drawn back to the Gaspé, where her family roots were deep and broad.

We are all treasuring the memories of Merilyn’s hugs, smiles, and laugh. She worked hard to be a supportive partner to Russell and to make sure her children had a safe and nurturing home. She was a vital part of all her six grandchildren’s lives, and she was overjoyed at the birth of each of her five great-grandchildren.

A sincere and heartfelt thanks to staff of Starwood for their caring and kindness to Merilyn and to her family, especially Russell, during her residence there.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Alzheimer Society Canada.


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Nancy Brannen (Camiot) (Friend)

Entered November 8, 2020 from Fredericton

So sorry to hear of Merilyn's passing. I remember her as such a kind and loving person and a very dear friend of mom's. They would talk everyday, sometimes more than once. I am heart broken for you all. Sending thoughts and prayers.

Nadine and Alfrd 

Entered November 8, 2020 from Gaspe

Our deepest sympathies to all the family

Dick and Ellie Holmes (Danielle Williams (granddaughter) is my daughter in law.)

Entered November 8, 2020 from Ottawa

I offer the Williams Family our most sincere condolences for your loss.

Kindest Regards,

Dick & Ellie Holmes

Ralph and Hannah Miller (Sunnybank neighbor)

Entered November 8, 2020 from Thorold, Ontario

We wish to express our condolences to all the family.

Donna Phillips 

Entered November 8, 2020 from Gaspe, QC

My sincere sympathy to Russell and all the family at this sad time.

Life Stories 

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Jennifer (Granddaughter)

Entered November 10, 2020

As told by Jennifer at her Nana’s service:
· I would like to share some memories that my sisters and brother, Katrina, Danielle and Jonathan, and I, have of Nana.

· We cannot forget Nana’s knitting. Nana knit a lot, she knit us mittens, slippers, cozy blankets. And when we were older, dishcloths. My favorites pair of mittens is still NFLD fisherman mittens that Nana knit for me. She also knit mittens for some of our friends when we were teenagers because they admired the ones we had so much. Danielle would carry the blanket she received from Nana around the house when she was sick, and needed something warm and comforting. And, Danielle and Jonathan enjoyed sliding on the kitchen floor in their slippers knit by Nana.

· Nana always made sure the holidays were special.

· Nana and Grandad would have us kids sleepover sometimes. I remember staying over a few weeks before Christmas. We would start by having supper at Swiss Chalet, we’d watch a movie and go to sleep. I loved hearing the grandfather clock chime throughout the night. In the morning we’d have bacon and a few times McDonald’s. Then we’d go to Rideau Centre to look at the Christmas decorations and buy presents for our parents, often having lunch at Eaton’s.

· At Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, Nana would always make the gravy, I would watch and she taught me how to make gravy myself.

· We would bake with her, especially leading up to Christmas. She would have everyone in the house stir the fruit cake mixture, for good luck. She taught us to make different types of Christmas cookies during our school holidays.

· We fondly remember her taking us to see the Nutcracker at the National Arts Centre. It was so exciting to get dressed up and be out with her. One time, when Nana, my mom and Danielle went to see the Nutcracker, there was a lot of snow in the forecast. Nana booked a room for the three of them at the Chateau Laurier, right across from the NAC. It was exciting for Danielle to stay in the hotel that looked like a ‘castle’ and to see all of the beautiful Christmas decorations.

· Nana taught me only to use the nicest washrooms downtown, either those at the Chateau Laurier or at the Westin.

· We always admired Nana and Granddad’s travel and adventures.

· When they’d travelled, they would always bring back thoughtful souvenirs for us. A pencil case with a beautifully hand painted sunset from Venezuela and t-shirts from Florida.

· We were very lucky to live in the same city as Nana and have many great memories spending times with her.

· She always made sure we had a fun time when we would visit her home, she would let us eat on TV tables right in front of the TV, we’d watch Price is Right, and if it wasn’t meal time, she’d always have chips and ginger ale for us.

· She and grandad would always wave from their window when we left after our visit.

· She did our nails and bought us a manicure set with a polish dryer in it, so we would tidy looking nails.

· She would join our family on walks at the Mer Bleue Bog. We remember the walks were always extra exciting when she was there.

· We also had many warm weather Kentucky Fried Chicken picnics with Nana and Grandad at Rockcliffe Park and along the Aviation Parkway.

· One of my earliest memories of Nana was when Katrina and I were supposed to clean up our toys. But instead we hid under the bed and Nana said if we didn’t come out she’d be cross and I had no idea what cross meant. This is the only time I remember her being upset with us, and I don’t think she even was very cross.

· We were also fortunate enough to spend time with Nana in Gaspe during summer vacations.

· Most summers we would travel to Gaspe and stay with Nana and Grandad who were there all summer long. We’d go to the beach, enjoy the sun, and explore the old house in Sunnybank. One year, she burned a Canada flag in a bucket because she said that is how you are supposed to dispose of tattered flags.

· She told me the old spoons in the pantry were rough because they had a lot of licks over the years.

Nana’s actions always reflected how much she cared about us and all of family.

· When Katrina was pregnant with Violet, Nana would take Katrina out for walks, even in the winter, to make sure she stayed healthy. Nana would also look after Violet when she was young, so Katrina could go to appointments or University classes. And because they lived so close to one and other, Violet and Katrina would stop by to have lunch with Nana, and Violet remembers playing at Nana’s and Grandad’s when she was really little.

· Our high school was very close to Nana and Grandad’s apartment, we would sometimes drop by for lunch, or see Nana on her balcony and wave to her when walking home from school.

· Even the small things, like calling us regularly, to check in, just to see how we were doing meant so much to all of us. She also did this when I got my first job after university. She’d call me on my work number to see how things were going. She and grandad would also call us on our birthdays and sing happy birthday together over the phone.

· We’ll continue to think back on these good memories of the times we shared with Nana.


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