Kirsten M.Milbrath Print
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Visitation:     No Prior Visitation

Service:        A Memorial Service will be held at a later date.

     * On-Line guest registry will be available Monday January 18,2021*

 MILBRATH - Kirsten M.
(nee Oglaend)
January 12, 2021. Beloved wife of the
late Lester W. Milbrath PhD; devoted
mother of Linda (Michael) Rinaldo, and
Erik (Judith) Milbrath; grandmother of
Hailey, Jonathan and Benjamin Rinaldo,
and Emily and Jakob Milbrath; sister
of Beate Oglaend; also survived by
nieces and nephews. Services were
held privately. A Memorial Service
will be held at a later date. Memorials
may be made to the Amherst Senior
Center. Arrangements by THE DIETRICH
FUNERAL HOME, INC., 2480 Kensington
Ave., Amherst. Share your condolences
at www.TheDietrichFuneralHome.com

 

 Kirsten M. Milbrath, 92, longtime director of Amherst Senior Services

Kirsten M. Milbrath was born in Brooklyn to Norwegian immigrants, but the Great Depression forced her father to move his family back home when she was a baby.

Then, in the spring of 1940, the Nazis invaded their country.

But while she suffered fear, danger and starvation – she refused to eat oatmeal after the war, said her daughter, Linda Rinaldo – Milbrath also absorbed the principles that inspired her life of service.

"She was raised to not only respect her elders but revere them," said her daughter, describing the love her mother had for her grandparents. "She brought that respect to her job" – 16 years with the Town of Amherst's Services for the Aging, including 14 years as director.

Kirsten Milbrath, 92, died of Covid-19 pneumonia at Canterbury Woods, Amherst.

She was born Kirsten Margrethe Oglaend in Brooklyn to Jonas B. Oglaend and Halfrid Nelson. After she was born, her father returned to Sandnas, Norway, to work in the family business, which included manufacturing bicycles.

During World War II, Nazi officers quartered in the family home and attempted to turn the bicycle factory into an ammunition factory. "My grandfather said that he ensured that the factory never successfully issued a single bullet and convinced the Nazis to continue to produce bicycles," said Rinaldo.

Upon graduation from high school at 19, Milbrath "struck a bold course," her family said, returning to the United States.

She earned a bachelor's degree in English from St. Olaf College in Minnesota in 1950 and a master's degree in American Studies in 1952 from the University of Minnesota, where she met Lester Milbrath.

Rather than return home after college, she married Dr. Milbrath on Feb. 5, 1952.

Dr. Milbrath taught at Duke University and Northwestern University, and in 1966, the couple moved to Western New York. Mrs. Milbrath earned a master's degree in social work from the University at Buffalo in 1972.

During the Blizzard of 1977, while working at the Brothers of Mercy in Clarence, she cared for patients without leaving for several days.

She became director of Amherst's Services for the Aging in 1977 and was instrumental in establishing the Senior Center on North Union Road. During her tenure, the center expanded, incorporating Meals on Wheels, adult day services, outreach and transportation.

She retired in 1991.

Milbrath was president of the local Network on Aging, and coordinator and promoter of the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program.

She was an assistant professor and field instructor at the UB School of Social Work and received many awards for her advocacy for the elderly.

She was active with the Scandinavian Women’s Club and Zonta, which named her Woman of the Year.

Milbrath was "very much a woman of contradictions," her daughter said, "raised in a traditionalist, conservative family but was also progressive in seeking her own place in her world."

A "gracious and compassionate" woman, her daughter said, Mrs. Milbrath "was one of few Democrats in Amherst at the time, one of the only women in a position of power and worked successfully in cooperation with everyone but did not let anyone marginalize or discount her."

With the Citizen Ambassador Program, she traveled to China and Taiwan in the 1990s to study care of the elderly.

The Milbraths visited Norway often and lived there in the early 1960s and in 1973.

Lester Milbrath died on Dec. 26, 2008.

Besides her daughter, Milbrath is survived by a son, Erik Milbrath; a sister, Beate Oglaend; and five grandchildren.

A family service was held and a memorial is being planned.

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