MESICK — Seldom could you catch Marian L. (Miller) Root of Mesick without a good book in her hand. And yet, while she enjoyed spending much of her time heartily immersed in tales penned by others, in 91 years of life well-lived, Marian managed to squeeze in plenty of time for a wealth of epic adventures of her own. Wife, mother, grandmother, farmhand, lifesaver, “Rosie the Riveter,” baker, bibliophile — Marian took on many roles in her time, proving her mettle at each in turn.
Marian’s backstory began on May 26, 1922, when Chester and Nellie Miller introduced the world to their daughter, Marian Lenore. The setting: the Miller family farm. Growing up on the family farm, Marian had to work as hard as any other farmhand, herding cows and performing all of the other chores that needed to be done to keep the farm running smoothly.
She graduated from Mesick High School, around which time the United States had entered World War II. Never one to stand aside as a secondary character when help was needed, Marian asserted her protagonist status and bolstered the nation’s war effort, first helping to build B-29 heavy bombers at the Willow Run aircraft factory in Ypsilanti, and later as a nurse’s aide in the U.S. Army. Much to her father’s dismay, Marian had quit her “Rosie the Riveter” job building aircraft to join the Army. While Chester couldn’t understand why his daughter would voluntarily abandon her job, Marian reasoned that America’s injured soldiers and the airmen risking their lives flying the hastily built aircraft needed her help far more than the factory did.
During her time with the Army, Marian worked at Percy Jones Hospital at Fort Custer in Battle Creek until the end of the war. Following the war, Marian returned to northern Michigan to work at the Traverse City State Hospital where she met her leading man, Orrin “Jerry” Root, who worked in the hospital pharmacy. The two married on Oct. 11, 1946, and made their home in Mesick.