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Milda Renata "Milli" Naumann Bishton
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Birth: Apr. 17, 1927
West Bay, Cayman Islands
Death: Apr. 16, 2014

MILDA RENATA BISHTON, 86, died Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at Visiting Nurse Hospice Home. She was born on April 17, 1927, In her wake she leaves a legacy of love, kindness, and quiet service that is the hallmark of spiritual people of all faiths. Milli was born on the Isle of Pines, Cuba in 1927. Her midwife birth in a thatched hut occurred six months after a devastating class five Hurricane nearly caught her missionary father and pregnant mother out in the open. A much smaller but still devastating internal storm finally took her 87 years later. From the tropical warmth of her mother's close knit Caymanian family, they moved to rural Wisconsin where her father served as a Lutheran circuit pastor. Poor as the proverbial church mice that shared their parsonage, they adapted well until the sudden death of her mother splintered their home. During high school Milli lived with loving paternal grandparents near the Bethesda School for the developmentally disabled. Her minister grandfather tended to residents with young Milli often at his side learning by example that everyone deserved love and kindness. His death three years later led to her supporting herself as a nanny and phone operator while completing boarding school at age 17. Through dark days, three books provided her comfort, guidance, and wisdom. The Bible, Pollyanna and Heidi helped form in her an unshakable certainty that with God's help there was hope in every situation and goodness in every person. When her 2nd place finish in a college scholarship competition appeared to shut the door to higher education, she held onto her faith. The winner eventually took another award, and Milli attended Valparaiso University as planned. As a waitress, she earned additional income through college, stayed on the honor roll, and believed fully that God was always watching over her. That watchful eye might have partly been from Harry Bishton who was utterly smitten at first meeting her and throughout 62 years of marriage and friendship. She was similarly taken by him, writing then that looking at their future together was "like looking into the sun." She also hoped that one day her daughter would have the same feeling for a special someone. This hope continued through three sons patiently born over 2 1/2 years, while waiting for the daughter who would eventually fulfill her hope. Her partnership with Harry took them to churches both large and small that thrived with their help and support. Milli, grateful for every opportunity, served others in every way she could find: church organist, Ladies Auxiliary, Lutheran Women's Missionary League, deaconess, and teacher of Sunday School, VBS, and parochial elementary school. She encouraged her children to find their own talents and helped to develop them. Together with her beloved "H" they instilled their strong sense of social justice and compassion into their children, just in time for the late 1960s to turn it in directions they did not expect. Holiday dinner times at the Bishton homestead were filled both with love and passionate debates about faith and politics, two subjects most families steer around. When her last child left home, the empty nest triggered memories of her early losses and she struggled to find a new purpose in her life. With the help of close friend, Jean Neuchterlein, they founded Hope Alive, a support and counseling ministry for women. The friends chose the butterfly as a symbol of the transformation that could occur in people's life. She so loved this work that she decided at age 55 to get a master's degree in Psychology, completing it with honors in 1984. The ministry grew from small groups to two permanent homes where women find shelter, kindness, counseling, and vocational assistance. One of the houses is named "Renata Home" in her honor. She served as executive director for 16 years and won the prestigious Jefferson Award in 1999. After retiring in 2000, she continued to provide more years of counseling services, attending her last board meeting on April 7, 2014. Milli enjoyed gardening, bird watching, reading, and writing, but she especially loved being close and connected to people who also loved being with her. Her warm smile, respect, and kindness were felt by everyone who met her. She will be deeply missed by her family and many friends. On her dresser we found one of her quotes framed by a friend. "The beauty of the butterfly inspires me to hold unto faith, accepting the fearful risk of letting myself change...though it feels like dying. I will remember that after the darkness and struggles have passed, I shall emerge transformed and free and glad to be me." She is survived by four children, Mark, Daniel, David, and Emily; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Harry. Because they were as one, please join in celebrating the lives of Milli and Harry Bishton at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 10, 2014, with fellowship until 4 p.m., at St. Michael Lutheran Church, 2131 Getz Road, Fort Wayne. Memorial gifts may be made to Hope Alive, Inc. http://hopealive.ministry or to Prison Fellowship http://www.prisonfellow To send online condolences, please visit 
Family links: 
  Harry Eugene Bishton (1920 - 2011)
Covington Memorial Gardens
Fort Wayne
Allen County
Indiana, USA
Created by: Scott Shoup
Record added: Apr 16, 2014
Find A Grave Memorial# 128070018
Milda Renata Milli <i>Naumann</i> Bishton
Added by: Barbara Wolf
Milda Renata Milli <i>Naumann</i> Bishton
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Sue Allen
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