'Mrs. Santa Claus' Dies in North Pole at Age 91

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Nellie Miller, a North Pole woman known for decades as "Mrs. Santa Claus," has died.

Miller died Sunday at a residential care home as a result of a stroke. She was 91.

In 1952, Miller and her late husband, Con, founded the Santa Claus House, a Christmas theme store open year round in North Pole. The business has remained in the family.

Miller served on the town's school board before the Fairbanks North Star Borough was created and was town magistrate in the 1960s.

She also was active in Republican politics.

Her son Mike Miller, a former lawmaker, says his parents involvement in local issues influenced his and his late brother Terry Miller's interest in holding public office.

"Between mom and dad, they gave us a lot of grounding and our devotion to public service came from them. Had it not been for them, we would not have understood the importance of public service," said Mike Miller, who served as Commissioner of Administration under former Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski.

Nellie Miller, one of 15 children, was born and raised in Idaho Springs, Colo.

She married and left home at age 15. When she met Con Miller, she had two sons.

The couple arrived in Alaska's interior in 1950.

"They were very proud of the fact that they had $1.40 in their pocket when they arrived here," said their daughter, Merry Christmas Miller Key.

No public memorial is planned.