Family hopes to rebuild after home filled with theater memories goes up in flames

The Miller family is leaning on their theater families for help

San Antonio – A San Antonio family is asking for help from the community after fire officials told them a lightning bolt caused a fire that destroyed their mother’s home of 50 years.

That home, which sits on Old Moss Road, belonged to Marjorie Miller, 85.

Elderly homeowner suffers smoke inhalation after home destroyed by fire

“I’ll never forget one of our brothers called me and said, ‘Momma’s house burned down,’” said Becky King, Miller’s daughter. “My immediate response was, ‘What!’”

Piano destroyed by fire
Piano destroyed by fire (KSAT)

“It was at about 3 a.m., January 11,” said Missy Miller Berlet, another daughter. “The neighbors across the alley saw a small fire and called 911. Within seconds, it erupted out of control.”

Berlet said fire investigators told her that it started from a lightning strike.

“The tree was maybe smoldering and fell on the roof and started everything,” Berlet said.

Marjorie Miller (Courtesy Becky King)
Marjorie Miller (Courtesy Becky King) (KSAT)

Marjorie Miller was sleeping when the fire broke out, but she made it out safely.

“She is nothing like how you think an 85-year-old would be,” Berlet said. “She is completely able to take care of herself. Very independent. Very stubborn. She didn’t want any help. She didn’t need any help. Didn’t have a walker or cane, which is why she was able to make it out on her own.”

Marjorie Miller is still being treated for smoke inhalation at a rehab nursing facility just for extra precaution.

Marjorie Miller (Courtesy Becky King)
Marjorie Miller (Courtesy Becky King) (KSAT)

“She was already suffering from heart disease,” King said. “She had just had a minor mastectomy where she had a stage two cancer lumps removed. The damage from her lungs I have learned is not that severe, but it is a lot for an 85-year-old to endure."

Miller’s children said they are beyond happy and grateful that their mother and her dog made it out safely, but they are all equally devastated by the memories lost in the fire.

“It is like PTSD for her,” Berlet said. “She is having a hard time accepting that her home is gone. She hasn’t been back. She hasn’t seen it yet.”

That home was filled with many theatrical memories as their entire family has always been a part of the theater. Miller was heavily involved.

Marjorie Miller (Courtesy Becky King)
Marjorie Miller (Courtesy Becky King) (KSAT)

“Our mother was on the board of the San Antonio Ballet Company, what used to be little San Antonio Theater, as well as Josephine Theater and Alamo City Theater,” King said. “She has been a very important part of theater families in San Antonio. She managed the box offices. She worked at our theater up until a year ago.”

Inside the home was damaged scripts, theater memorabilia and a six-foot-three Baldwin piano their brother got when he was a young teen.

“The piano is where we literally spent thousands of hours rehearsing show music for plays,” King said. “We were in that living room singing with our friends and family all the time. It was such an important thing for all of us. Our mother is just traumatized because being 85 and living there for 50 years.”

Those in the theater community know Miller as Momma Margie.

“She was always like a second mother to our friends and our fellow castmates,” King said. “She costumed numerous shows for probably 40 years.”

Costumes destroyed
Costumes destroyed (KSAT)

Her children said they have all been on a rollercoaster of emotions as they try to stay positive.

“Laughing, and crying,” Berlet said. “Someone would then suddenly burst into tears because we think ‘Oh that was in there too.’ You go through all of these emotions, but you have to stay strong and move forward.”

They said their biggest mission is to rebuild for their mother with the help of their theater families.

Arson investigators looking for cause of house fire

“Over all the years, we have done things for the community and donated and just helped out. We are just reaching out to ask for that help in return,” Berlet said.

“To renew whatever we can for her because of what she did for all of us is the ultimate goal for us,” said King.

Scripts damaged
Scripts damaged (KSAT)

The family said if you would like to help rebuild their mother’s prized possession, you can male a check to Marjorie Miller to The Josephine Theatre, 339 W. Josephine.

“We need to rebuild not only the physical property but the emotional property,” Berlet said. “We have always been a strong family. It is time to rebuild together. We may not be able to rebuild everything like it was, but we will sure try.”

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