Barbara Ellen Miller

September 20, 1938 - March 21, 2020

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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Connie L Cihak
5 months ago

I too was ‘introduced’ to the Miller family because of this extra-ordinary woman, also known as the Queen of Tractor Pullin’. I remember one hot and sunny day – bringing her a chair to sit in and cold bottle of water; ‘We need to take care of you while you wait, the rest of these people have come here to see YOU pull.’ Each of you have many memories with her and they will take you through these moments and days that you miss her; love is a memory that time cannot destroy.

Diane Jeurissen
5 months ago

So sorry to hear of your loss, and especially during this trying time. Thoughts and prayers are with your family at this sensitive time. Keep your memories close to your heart.

Sue Cowdin
5 months ago

Sorry for the loss of your mother, Mary Lou, she sounds like quite an amazing lady!

Kathy Ginkel
5 months ago

Our sympathy goes out to the family of Barb Miller .Our thoughts and Prayers
Are with you all at this difficult time.

Richard and Kathy Ginkel &.Ronald and Katherine Ginkel

Angela Scholl
5 months ago

So sorry for your loss. I wish I had a chance to get to know her.

Joanna Fahey
5 months ago

So sorry for all the family losses . She was such a strong woman and will be missies by many . I will never for get the time sitting across from Uncle Val at Charlie’s in Mankato . He told us how they met and she was only 14 yrs old at that time . You could see the love in his eyes as he got his billfold
Out show me the picture from that time and how he carried it around in his billfold for 60 some years . Love and hugs to all , JoAnna Fahey

Mike and Ruth Novak
5 months ago

Sending thoughts and prayers to all during this hard time.

Rosie (Meyer) Goggin
5 months ago

Sending my sympathy to the entire Miller family. I didn’t know your mom very well, but I don’t think there wasn’t a thing she couldn’t do! Her love and devotion to her family are evident in all of you. Special condolences to Suzanne (my classmate) but also to the “older” Miller kids that I remember fondly from school. I know that she has left a huge hole in your family and hearts, but also in the many lives, she has touched.

Bob and Kelly Connelly
5 months ago

Thinking of all of you during this hard time Prayers to all of you.

Marvin & Kathy Guse
5 months ago

MaryLou and Family

We are sorry to hear of your mother’s passing. You are in our thoughts and prayers!
What a wonderful example your parents set by staying together through good times and bad, sickness and health! 66 years together!

5 months ago

Oh my gosh! Where to start! Barb was wonderful amazing person! I loved visiting with her and Val ! Always treated me like one of their own kids! She will be truly missed! Love and hugs and prayers to the whole family!! Darcy

Julie Widmer
5 months ago

What an amazing farm woman Barb was! Being a farm woman myself, I can attest to the role model she was for me and others for hard work, farm entrepreneurship, and for her focus on family. Then throw in the fact that she was a popular trophy winning tractor puller riding her fierce and powerful John Deere down the track and she was a rock star on our farm with Jerry and our sons Mitchel and Peter! We will miss visiting with Barb and Val at the Red Door Bar in Belle Plaine where she was quick to grab her… Read more »

Linda Tohal Wells
5 months ago

I would like to extend my sympathy to the Miller family, and especially to my classmate from the class of 1973 – Marylou. Your mother’s life story is amazing! What a tribute in the Mankato paper! I remember coming to Marylou’s Graduation reception at the farm. God bless and comfort you all.

Bill and Agnes
5 months ago

Val and family, Bill and I are expressing our sincere sympathy. Barb was a remarkable Lady, well loved and respected. Beautiful obituary…

Mark & Lori Vosejpka Family
5 months ago

Roger, Patty and all the Miller families,
What a beautiful tribute to your dear mom and grandmother. Coming from a large family myself I can so relate to your comments. Sounds like you have wonderful memories to share and reminisce about and Barbara Ellen Miller will never be forgotten. Our deepest condolences to you all.

Lori Morgan
5 months ago

So sorry for your loss, MaryLou! You are in our thoughts and prayers!

Tammy (Bastet) and Dan Sinkel
5 months ago

Val and family. You are all in our thoughts and prayers, very sorry for your loss. Barb was an awesome and kind lady, we loved her very much. Big hug to you all.
Tammy (Bastyr) And Dan Sinkel

Robert and Joyce lingbeek
5 months ago

Our thoughts and prayers to the Miller family

Abbey Weiers
5 months ago

I feel so proud to be part of the lineage of strong, hardworking, and caring women that came from Grandma Miller. Grandma taught me that you can go against the grain and break gender stereotypes one day, and still enjoy baking pies, black Friday shopping and lunch with your girls the next–a lesson that I will keep with me forever. I love you Grandma!

Colleen Jeffrey
5 months ago

So very sorry for your loss

Irene Eisele
5 months ago

Val and family: My thoughts and prayers are with you at this time of loss.

Bill and Martine Jenson
5 months ago

Dear Susie,
Bill and I are very sorry about the passing of your mother. What a beautiful life ! May all the memories help you and your family in the days to come.

Gloria Lindeman Turek
5 months ago

Thoughts and prayers to her entire family.

Bill Walz
5 months ago

My heart goes out to Susie, Jerry and the entire Miller family at this difficult time.

Roger mager
5 months ago

You could never be around Val and Barb and not have a good time, and laugh till you hurt. Hard working people, good friends. She was a super woman, before it was cool!

Thea Welter Kramer
5 months ago

My thoughts and prayers go out to Barbie, Lisa and all of the family. I’m sorry for your loss.

Suzanne Barker
5 months ago

You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

Dale Candy Hoehn and kids
5 months ago

I always enjoyed watching her with my kids at the tractor pulls. She was an amazing women and everyone in the stands respected her. I pulled a few times til kids came along and she was an inspiration to everyone. Sending pray yes to all of her family in this time of need

Anne (Holtz) Sinell
5 months ago

Many fond memories of growing up neighbors to the Millers. Barb was such a fun loving person. It meant alot to me when she and Val would come to listen to me sing with the Church of Cash.Deepest sympathy and lots of love.
Anne (Holtz) Sinell

Tammy Phillips
5 months ago

Our sincerest sympathy to you all.She leaves behind a beautiful legacy.Our hearts and prayers are with you all. All of us here @ Midwest Insurance Group

Kathy Danielson
5 months ago

To the entire Miller family, I am very sorry for your loss. May she rest in eternal peace. God bless you all!

Kim Lindely
5 months ago

You all have our deepest sympathy.
May your memories bring you comfort in your time of sadness. She was an amazing Lady.
Kim Lindely (Havemeier)

Lois Ann Strehlow
5 months ago

Our sincere sympathies for your loss.
Dan and louie Strehlow

Jill (Havemeier) Martens and family
5 months ago

Barb was a role model to me growing up in the pulling world even if she drove one of those “green” tractors. I have always had the biggest respect for her and your family. I agree with Troy we may hear more rolling thunder this summer and we can only smile knowing what Grandpa Marlin and Barb are doing in heaven. Sending prayers for piece and comfort to you all durning this time

Carol Klampe & Ron Weise
5 months ago

Val and family please know you are all in our thoughts and prayers during the difficult loss of Barb. Many memories of fun times at tractor pulls will always be remembered. Ron Weise and Carol Klampe

Dale and Cindy (Koepp) Gerholz
5 months ago

Our sympathy goes out to the family at this very sad time. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.
Dale and Cindy (Koepp) Gerholz

Troy Havemeier
5 months ago

Barb was an amazing woman and will be greatly missed! I’m guessing her and Marlin (My Grandpa) are already planning a pull. We’ll all know what’s going on when we hear the thunder start rolling this spring. I’m sorry we are unable to come and show our sympathy and support during this time. Know that our thoughts and prayers are with you. God be with you.

Mike and Judy Ready
5 months ago

Val and Family, Please know our thoughts and prayers are with you and your lovely family. Barb was such a young, caring wife and mother but it took two, to raise the lovely family you have. Who would of thought, you would be parents to 15 children and married 66 years? With those grown children, sons and daughters in-law and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, your sure to be watched over. That will bring true happiness to Barb. After a lovely visit a few weeks ago, I could see how much love there has been in your home.❤️ May the good… Read more »

Sarah Schuette
5 months ago

What an amazing woman! Sending the entire Miller family my love and sympathy.

Jeff & Carol Pfarr
5 months ago

May God welcome her home with loving arms and grant her eternal Life. Our deepest sympathy to all.

John Hermel
5 months ago

Miller family has my deepest sympathies. Barb will be very missed. As a crowd pleaser at the pulls. I watched her be competitive before I started pulling myself. I completed with her for a few years which was exciting.

Kevin and Cheryl Michels and all the boys families
5 months ago

You and your family are in our prayers. We will miss Barb very much at the pulls and the competition and the lessons she gave

Julie Harmon
5 months ago

We are so honored to have known her and have witnessed this pioneer woman in action. Obviously passing her work ethic and leadership traits to her children and Grandchildren. She will be greatly missed by her loving family and all who knew her. Our deepest sympathies go out to this remarkable family at this sad time.

Tery and Jim Mahowald
5 months ago

Patty, Roger and family, we are so sorry for the loss of your Mother/Grandmother. This is a difficult time for you and your family but cherish the memories of your Mom and hold them close to your heart as she would have wanted you to do. She was an amazing woman, a trait she passed on to her children and grandchildren. You are in our thoughts and prayers

George and Margret Griebel
5 months ago

Our deepest sympathy to all of you. She surely will be missed.

Katie and Russ Seurer
5 months ago

Patty and family. So sorry to hear about your loss. She sure was one amazing woman. I would say she lived her life to the fullest. We should all follow her example. Prayers and hugs to you all.

Ryan and Jennifer Lake
5 months ago

So sorry Tammy and your entie family. Prayers for peace and healing.

Ken and Wendy Theis
5 months ago

Val and family, May your memories give comfort during this time.

Gaby Camacho
5 months ago

Our condolences and prayers with all of you!

Linda Lenertz
5 months ago

My deepest sympathy. She was a wonderful lady.

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