Muriel Coykendall Kiser was born in upstate New York but grew up in Montana, California, New York, and Florida. After graduating from high school in Florida in 1939, Kiser enrolled at the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina (now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro). She graduated with an education major and a double minor in political science and Spanish in 1943. After graduation, Kiser taught primary grades at Hartsell School in Concord, North Carolina, for a year, in North Wilkesboro for three years, and one year in Greensboro.
Kiser took a fundraising job at the Red Cross headquarters in Atlanta while she worked to meet their weight requirement. When the Red Cross accepted her in 1944, she went through training in Washington, D.C., and then was sent to New York and Blacksburg, Virginia. She traveled to her first assignment as an assistant at a service club for the 8th Air Force in Boxstead, England on D-Day, 6 June 1944. In April 1945 Kiser was transferred briefly to France before getting an assignment in Belgium, where she ran a service club for the 9th Air Force. Her service ended in December of 1945.
Kiser returned to North Carolina after World War II and resumed her teaching career in High Point for a semester. She then returned to teaching in North Wilkesboro, where she remained until the 1950s. For two years she taught in Cary, North Carolina, followed by Asheville, North Carolina. In 1972 she met her husband, Glenn Kiser.