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Loretta (Ryan) McMillen, 78, of Ocean Grove, NJ, and formerly a lifelong resident of Staten Island, NY, left this world peacefully, surrounded by loved ones, on Monday, June 6, 2022, at Riverview Medical Center, in Red Bank, NJ.
A mother to four, a grandmother to nine, and a great-grandmother to one, Loretta taught thousands of Staten Island schoolchildren to compose haiku, read great books, and discover their writing voice during her long career as an English teacher at I.S. 7, and later at I.S. 75. In retirement, she became an agent with Bentson Travel, and helped hundreds to discover the joys of other cultures.
Born on the Island in 1944 to John and Loretta Ryan, Loretta grew up on Fingerboard Road with her brother, John Ryan, of Carmel, California, and her inseparable cousin, Mary Carol.
While teaching at I.S. 7, in Huguenot, Loretta met the love of her life, history teacher Harlow McMillen, then a father to two young boys, Christopher and Scott. Loretta and Harlow wed in 1969, and were blessed with another son, Ryan, and a daughter, Lauren.
For three decades, Harlow and Loretta taught in the same schools, and were active participants in events at Historic Richmondtown, through which Loretta co-authored with Dorothy Fingado the 1976 cookbook Richmondtown Receipts: Three Centuries of Staten Island Cooking.
For many years Loretta and Harlow co-owned the only antiquarian book business on Staten Island, The Book End, on Jewett Avenue. For their entire lives, they attended book sales across the Northeast at every opportunity they had.
Harlow and Loretta spent many summers with their loving family between Lake Dunmore, near Middlebury, Vermont, and Ocean Grove, where Loretta’s mother moved in 1972. In 2015, Loretta moved into her late mother’s Victorian house in the Grove, to spend her final days together with Harlow within earshot of the church bells and crashing waves of the Atlantic.
Loretta’s smile, her enthusiasm, and her loving spirit were felt by all who knew her, and live on through countless others who learned how to be better people through her example. Her vast network of friends from her teaching days, from her travels to Europe, South America, and Africa, and from those she taught who grew to adulthood to pursue their passions, mourn her loss not only because they know how extraordinary one day in her presence could be, but because they wish that all others could continue to feel her warmth and love.
In addition to her husband Harlow, brother John and cousin Mary, survivors include her loving children Lauren (Brian) Ormsbee, Ryan (Erin) McMillen, Scott (Laura) McMillen, Chris (Kelly) McMillen, her cherished grandchildren Penelope, Miranda, Harrison, Violet, Thomas, James, Michael, Daniel, and William and great grandson Logan. She is also survived by her niece, Katie Ryan, many cousins, and extended family and friends.
Visitation will be on Sunday from 2:00pm to 6:00pm at the O’Brien Funeral Home, 2028 Hwy 35 at New Bedford Rd., Wall, NJ 07719. A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered on Monday, June 13, 2022 at 10:30am at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church, 424 Lincoln Ave., Avon by the Sea, NJ 07717. Interment will be in St. Anne’s Cemetery, Wall Twp.
In lieu of flowers the McMillen family requests donations be made to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center P.O. Box 5028 Hagerstown, MD 21741-5028.
We encourage you to share your most beloved memories of Loretta here, so that the family and other loved ones can always see it. You can upload cherished photographs, or share your favorite stories, and can even comment on those shared by others.