A memorial service to celebrate Miriam's life will be held at 2:00 pm on Friday, January 20, 2023 in the Resurrection Chapel at Oakwood Village University Woods. A reception will immediately follow on the Oakwood campus. You will want to check-in at the Heritage Oaks front desk when arriving. (Please see below for further details)
The Midwest lost one of her finest daughters, Miriam Joyce Cerveny, age 89 on October 17, 2022. Her life was defined by her service to her family, her faith community and friends. Miriam was born on December 8, 1932 in Des Moines, Iowa, the daughter of Wallace and Ruth McKee. She was one of five children growing up on a small farm in Scotch Ridge, Iowa during the Great Depression. The farm initially had no running water or indoor bathroom; her life punctuated by chores caring for chickens (which she hated), pigs and milk cows, tending a huge garden, attending a one-room country schoolhouse, and showing her Dad’s prized Milking Shorthorn cattle at the Warren County fair. The work ethic and resourcefulness of her parents was the stuff of family lore, and was a point of pride until her final days.
She followed in her family’s tradition and attended Iowa State College in Ames, Iowa where she earned a degree in Home Economics. During her time there, she joined the Gamma Phi Beta sorority where she made life-long friendships. For over 60 years, these sorority sisters have maintained their promise to stay in touch via annual round-robin letters highlighting the stories from their lives. This amazing group was highlighted in the Wall Street Journal in September 2019 as well as featured on the Today Show that same year. She was additionally a lifelong member of a women’s collective organization called PEO, which provides educational scholarships for women needing a little hand up.
She came to Madison in the late 1950’s to work as a Home Economist at Oscar Mayer Foods where she met, and then soon married, John G. Cerveny on Oct 15, 1960. Miriam and John had two children (John and Sarah) and the family has lived in the Madison area from that time. She was a mother and homemaker of great devotion, acting as a room-Mom, sewing costumes, planning birthdays and picnics and annual summer trips to small lakes in Northern Wisconsin. As the kids grew older, they in turn spent summers on the farm in Iowa learning how to bale hay, “walk the beans”, mend fences as well as tend the cows.
In 1970, Miriam was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. While this presented many challenges to a couple with young children, they were able to overcome most issues with good medical care and the ongoing support of her family and many friends, always deeply appreciated. Against all odds, Miriam lived with the challenges of MS for over 50 years. She was an example to all her knew her of not being defined by her disease, but instead meeting the challenge with her singular greatest weapon, her immense and notable sense of humor. It would be remiss not to mention her grandkids frequently referred to her as “being built different” and as a GOAT. The McKee genes are commonly referenced as being a hoped-for passed trait by her grands.
She spent the past 10 years at Oakwood/Hebron, receiving the best of care by a dedicated and loyal staff, most especially notable during the pandemic as being extraordinary. During nice weather, she would always be found on “her porch”, focused on a word-search and often napping quietly under the trees. Miriam was always busy with tone chimes, creating exceptional pieces of artwork, bingo and cheering on her Badgers and Packers teams. She liked the Oakwood food, but especially loved it if a relative would drop by with a basket of onion rings and a Turtle Sundae from Culvers.
Survived by her son John (Raquel) Cerveny; her daughter Sarah (Art) Grimm and four loving grandchildren of whom she was very proud – Kellan and Cate Cerveny and Catalina and Cayman Grimm. Miriam is also survived by her sisters Margaret Hickman (Madison) and Beverly Newell (Prineville, Oregon). She was preceded in death by John G. Cerveny, her parents, Wallace and Ruth McKee, her older brother Bob McKee and younger sister Jean Jervis. The loving and constant friendship of her older sister Margaret must be mentioned, as the hours of loving companionship, endless stream of meals and support given were gifts beyond measure.
A memorial service to celebrate Miriam's life will be held at 2:00 pm on Friday, January 20, 2023 in the Resurrection Chapel at Oakwood Village University Woods. A reception will immediately follow on the Oakwood campus. You will want to check-in at the Heritage Oaks front desk when arriving.
Please come a few minutes early as you will need to park and then check-in at the front desk of the Heritage Oaks building. They will provide you with directions to the Chapel.
Oakwood Village - University Woods Campus
6205 Mineral Point Road
Madison, Wisconsin 53705
608-230-4280 Heritage Oaks Front Desk
We welcome you to share your memories here on Miriam's tribute wall.
6021 University Ave. Madison