Obituary: Katharine Miller Morsberger

Author, teacher, editor, creative force, longtime Claremont resident

Katharine Miller Morsberger, a longtime Claremont resident, died at home March 25, following a brief respiratory illness.

Born May 6, 1931, in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, Katharine was the daughter of Stephen James Miller and Eleanor Loomis Miller.

The family moved to Asheville, North Carolina when she was 12. There she attended Lee H. Edwards High School (now Asheville High School), where she was on the staff of the school’s newsletter, Hillbilly Highlights, and the Women’s College of the University of North Carolina (now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro), from which she received a bachelor’s degree in history in 1952 and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Alpha Theta (history honors society) and the Adelphian Literary Society.

She attended a number of graduate programs over the years, pursuing degrees in child psychology at the University of Iowa, where she met her future husband Robert Eustis Morsberger, and in English at Claremont Graduate School, where she earned her master’s in 1972, and at the University of California, Riverside, from which she received her PhD in 1994.

Her specialty was 18th-century English literature. She published numerous articles and reviews on topics ranging from John Locke to John Steinbeck, from Dryden’s and Pope’s translations of Chaucer, to Christopher Isherwood’s and Don Bachardy’s teleplay Frankenstein: The True Story.

She coauthored with Mr. Morsberger a biography, Lew Wallace: Militant Romantic, and introductions to a couple of Penguin reissues of shorter works by John Steinbeck, The Short Reign of Pippin IV and The Mark of Zorro.

Ms. Morsberger’s work experience included a year with the Episcopal Church’s Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society in Missouri; teaching at a nursery school in Nsukka, Nigeria, in the early 1960s; and eight years as the Director of Publications at Pitzer College, where she edited the school’s magazine, Participant. She also taught a number of classes on science fiction and film.

Growing up in North Carolina, she developed a lifelong love for the music, culture and crafts of Appalachia. She worked for a summer at Penland School of Craft and learned to play the mountain dulcimer. She and her husband spent seven summers at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where he was a seasonal park ranger.

She also had a love of the theater, working as a costumer in college and, for many years, with her husband, contributing theater reviews to the Claremont COURIER of plays at the Los Angeles Music Center and the South Coast Repertory, among others.

She had a brilliant and questing mind and unbounded creativity, enjoying reading in all sorts of areas, including science and the sports and business sections of the newspaper; cooking; sketching; embroidery; framing her own pictures and using gold leaf to repair a gilt frame.

She was also an avid gardener and bird lover. She was a kind and generous friend, a devoted wife to her beloved husband and intellectual sparring partner and companion of 64 years, and a loving mother and grandmother. She could be incredibly sweet, but she did not suffer fools gladly.

She is survived by her daughter, Grace Morsberger; son-in-law, Rich Stern; grandchildren, Emma and Jake Stern; sister Susan Miller; brother-in-law, the painter, Philip Morsberger; sister-in-law, MaryAnn Morsberger; niece, Wendy Morsberger; and several cousins.

She was predeceased by her beloved husband, Robert Morsberger; her nephew, Robert Edward Morsberger, a musician; and a baby sister, Martha Elizabeth Miller.


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