On Aug. 2, Shepherd Park lost Rosemary Eloise Reed Miller, one of its longtime community residents and activists. Many in D.C. knew her as the owner of the former Toast and Strawberries, a fashion boutique in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, which attracted famous customers like Aretha Franklin and faithful buyers from the surrounding community. Others knew her as the author of “Threads of Time: The Fabric of History.” She shared stories from the book, which highlights black designers from the 1850s to the present, on NPR and in other media. Still others met her through the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., where she directed the book and literary series in the years after she closed her shop in 2005. And black businesswomen in D.C. knew her as a strong advocate.
But for those of us who live in Shepherd Park, we knew Rosemary as a neighbor, a mother, a grandmother, a hardworking neighborhood activist and a fundraiser for community efforts. She belonged to Concerned Neighbors Inc. and served a term as its president. She loved the organization’s Valentine dance and often made an entrance in an item from her boutique. She also belonged to the Shepherd Park Citizens Association and represented the organization at citywide citizen congresses.
When her two children and her grandson were attending Shepherd Elementary School, Rosemary supported them with their studies, and the school’s PTA with donations to the school’s annual auction. She was proud of her children, Sabrina and Paul, as they found their places in business and the arts. She loved to share news of their accomplishments like Paul’s latest music or book productions or his artist residency at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Rosemary was passionate about her efforts — business, community and personal. Sometimes feisty, she was a presence and she’ll be missed.
— June Confer