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Barry Miller

September 11, 2016 - 11:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Barry Miller, bergen.

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Nearly a year ago, Bergen's Barry G. Miller, a volunteer medic with the Bergen Fire Department, was killed in the line of duty while responding to a medical call.

Yesterday, by act of Congress and the signature of President Barack Obama, the post office in Bergen, was renamed in his honor during a ceremony attended by members of Miller's family, local dignitaries including State Sen. Micheal Ranzenhofer and Assemblyman Steve Hawley, and members of the Bergen Volunteer Fire Department. It was organized by the office of Rep. Chris Collins, who got the legislation through Congress to make the dedication possible.

A plaque will be placed on the outside wall of the post office building.

“Barry Miller was a pillar of the Bergen community and someone who spent his entire life serving others,” Collins said. “The ‘Barry Miller Post Office’ will keep his memory forever ingrained in Bergen.”

Tracy Miller, Barry's father, delivered a moving speech at the dedication ceremony.

"In a few short days we will be reminded of the worst day in our family's life," Miller said. "We are so thankful for the outpouring of love and caring from this small community and beyond. I recall the ribbons on all of the telephone poles, the sign on the library, the ladder trucks with the huge flag and the large turnout for the calling hours. These were a testimony of how people in small communities care for one another."

He added, "Thank you to the Bergen Fire Department. You were my son's heart and every young person that gets involved keeps Barry's memory alive and cultivates a desire to serve rather than to be served."

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August 2, 2016 - 11:52am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Barry Miller, bergen, news.

Press release:

U.S. senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles E. Schumer and Congressman Chris Collins today announced President Obama has signed into law legislation to rename the Bergen Post Office located at 15 Rochester St. in Genesee County as the “Barry G. Miller Post Office.” Earlier this year, both the Senate and House unanimously passed the legislation introduced by Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Collins.

“Barry Miller was deeply involved in the Bergen community and his passion showed in his dedication to service and answering the call of those in danger for the past 30 years,” Senator Gillibrand said. “We collectively remember and honor this extraordinary and generous New Yorker. This designation is a fitting tribute for a hometown hero in the community he held near and dear. I am pleased this legislation passed Congress unanimously and was signed into law by President Obama.” 

“While nobody can fill the void left by Barry Miller, all those who enter the newly renamed ‘Barry G. Miller Post Office’ will be reminded of the incredible sacrifice and courage displayed by a man who was so much a part of this community and who embodied the true spirit of selflessness through his 30 years of service,” Senator Schumer said. “Naming the Bergen Post Office on Rochester Street after him is a truly fitting tribute to his bravery, and allow the legacy of this hometown hero to live on in an enduring way.” 

“Barry Miller is a hero in the Bergen community,” Congressman Collins said. “The Barry G. Miller Post Office is a fitting way to honor Mr. Miller’s legacy of community service and selfless sacrifice for others. I was proud to introduce this legislation and glad to see it signed into law.”

“This recognition is an important tribute to Barry's service to our community. He dedicated his life to serving others and this will be a permanent reminder of his service to Bergen. We appreciate New York's lawmakers for working together to make this a reality,” Tracy Miller said. 

June 22, 2016 - 3:25pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, bergen, Barry Miller, congressman chris collins.

Press release:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) on Tuesday released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed by unanimous consent legislation to rename the currently unnamed Post Office located at 15 Rochester St., Bergen, as the “Barry G. Miller Post Office.”

“Barry Miller was a pillar of the Bergen community,” Congressman Collins said. “The passage of today’s legislation to rename the Bergen post office will memorialize Mr. Miller’s life of selfless community service. I am honored to have introduced this legislation, and look forward to this bill being signed into law by President Obama."

“Barry enjoyed nothing more than serving his community and he dedicated his life to helping the people of Bergen,” stated Tracy and Loretta Miller, Barry’s parents. “This is a fitting tribute to his service, and we look forward to continuing to work with Rep. Collins to make this a reality.”

Barry Miller was a lifelong Bergen resident, graduating from Byron-Bergen High in 1983 and serving as a member of the Bergen Volunteer Fire Department for 31 years including 10 as assistant EMS Chief before he was tragically killed in the line of duty. In addition to working at the Bergen Volunteer Fire Department, Barry was a Genesee County coroner, a member of the Bergen Town Board, and owner of Miller's Millworks in Bergen and the Beaver River Lodge in the Adirondacks.

Full text of the legislation, H.R. 4372, can be read here.

May 17, 2016 - 6:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Barry Miller, bergen, fire services, news, Milestones.

Press release:

Barry G. Miller has been posthumously designated as a recipient of the New York State Senate Liberty Medal by State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer.  

The New York State Senate Liberty Medal is awarded to individuals who have merited special commendation for exceptional, heroic or humanitarian acts on behalf of their fellow New Yorkers. He was tragically killed last September in an ambulance accident on his way to a fire call in the performance of his duties as an emergency responder.

“As a first responder, Barry acted with bravery in many emergency situations. He was dedicated, loyal and compassionate to his family and our community,” Ranzenhofer said. “Barry made the ultimate sacrifice while faithfully executing his responsibilities as an emergency responder. It is so fitting for the State Senate to pause in its deliberations today to honor him and his family with a Liberty Medal.”

Senator Ranzenhofer joined members of the Miller Family earlier in the day for the New York State EMS Memorial Commemorative Ceremony. During the special ceremony, Miller’s name was placed on the memorial in remembrance of his ultimate sacrifice, along with the names of other EMS personnel from across the state.

“Our family is completely honored and in awe of the honor presented to my son,” said Miller’s father, Tracy Miller.

Miller held the title of Chief of Emergency Medical Services in Bergen. For more than three decades, he was a member of the Bergen Fire Department. Miller was also a member of Leadership Genesee Class of 2008. He was the owner of Miller’s Millworks in Bergen and the Beaver River Lodge in the Adirondacks. He also worked for several years at Rochester Eye and Tissue Bank.

April 23, 2016 - 9:38am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Barry Miller, bergen, fire services, news.

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Bergen dedicated its new ambulance Friday evening in honor of Barry Miller, the former EMS chief who was killed in an accident Sept. 23 while responding to a medical call.

Miller was remembered as a man who had a passion for the EMS service and always looked forward in life to new challenges.

"As time passes, his title as director, EMS lieutenant and EMS chief may fade from our memories, but the ones that will always remain are leader, mentor and dear friend," said Deputy Chief Scott Crosier.

Town Supervisor Don Cunningham, a good friend of Miller's, said the ceremony marked a time of transition and he hoped that every time the ambulance rolls on a call in the future that it will be filled with the same passion for service that Miller brought to the job.

"I'd like to think this ceremony opens a new chapter," Cunningham said. "Those of us who knew Barry that moss didn't grow on his walk. He was always moving forward, never lingering in the past, always looking to the next opportunity, up for the next adventure, ready and willing for the next fun thing."

P.J. Cummings sang his song, the "Firefighters Song." Perhaps, he said, it may be the last time he performs the song live.

Pastors Micheal Merry and Matthew French delivered the blessing of the vehicle and prayed over it and Miller's parents, Tracy and Loretta, dedicated it.

Top photo: Bergen Chief Kevin Finucane.

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Don Cummingham

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P.J. Cummings

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Matthew French and Michael Merry

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Loretta and Tracy Miller.

March 5, 2016 - 1:17pm
posted by Raymond Coniglio in Chamber Awards, Barry Miller, news.

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(File photo: Barry Miller serves as Genesee County coroner during a May 2014 DWI drill at Pavilion High School.)

The posthumous recognition of Barry Miller by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, is a reminder of the positive difference one individual can make in his community.

Miller, a lifelong Bergen resident and volunteer firefighter, died Sept. 23, 2015, while aboard an ambulance responding to an emergency call. He has been chosen by the Chamber as a 2015 Geneseean of the Year.

“I think what you could learn from Barry’s life, is that you can have an impact if you’re willing to put in the time,” said Don Cunningham, Bergen’s town supervisor.

“It takes a lot of dedication, and Barry was willing to give that dedication,” he said.

Miller, 50, grew up on Buffalo Street, the son of Tracy and Loretta Miller. He graduated from Byron-Bergen High School in 1983. He was the owner of Miller’s Millworks, a custom-designed furniture business he started in his basement and eventually located on Lake Avenue in Bergen. He also owned the Beaver River Lodge in the Adirondacks

Miller was passionate about emergency services. He joined the Bergen Fire Department when he was 18, and continued to volunteer for 31 years. For the past decade he had been the department’s chief of Emergency Medical Services.

He started the fire department’s Explorers Program, and was also a Genesee County coroner.

Cunningham grew up with Miller, but established a close friendship while they were both serving on the Bergen Town Board. “His mind was always going,” Cunningham said. “He always had ideas for things, and he was driven to follow through.”

“It was just constant. Fundraisers, local projects — he had his hand in everything.”

What made Miller unique, Cunningham said, was that he was drawn to respond to emergency medical situations. But community causes especially close to his heart, were those dedicated to children, and battered women.

Whatever the situation — a fire alarm or a fundraiser — it seemed like Miller was always “the first guy on the call.”

“That’s what makes his loss so profound,” he said. “There are not that many people like him, and in a small community, when you lose that individual, it leaves a big void.”

February 10, 2016 - 5:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in bergen, Bergen Fire, Barry Miller, news.

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By this time tomorrow, the Bergen Volunteer Fire Department will have a brand-new ambulance in service.

It's a big moment for the department. 

The 2016 Ford Rescue replaces the ambulance involved in the crash Sept. 23 that took the life of Barry Miller.

"It’s a wonderful moment for us," said Julie Donofrio, of the Bergen Rescue Squad. "We all do this to give back to the community. We, of course, wish Barry was here, but this was a push from the whole department and something Barry would be proud of. It's also something the whole community can be proud of."

Donofrio said the whole community has been so supportive of the department and that enhances the meaning of the moment.

"It means the world to us to have this ambulance on the road representing Bergen," she said. "For the department, for the community, to help provide (for) all the people of the community that we provide service to, it's a wonderful feeling."

The new rig is fully outfitted with the latest rescue technology, including touch screen systems to monitor patients and also has state-of-the-art safety equipment, from the brush grill and light bars to the interior accommodations for responders and patients.

The department has been using a loaner the past several months and Donofrio said the plan is for volunteers to arrive at the department and transfer equipment from that ambulance to this new one in the morning and then put the new rig in service.

 

January 21, 2016 - 1:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Barry Miller, bergen, chris collins, NY-27.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today released the following statement after introducing legislation to rename the currently unnamed post office located at 15 Rochester St., Bergen, New York in honor of Bergen resident Barry Miller. If passed, the legislation would rename the post office the “Barry G. Miller Post Office.”

“Barry Miller was beloved by all who were lucky enough to meet him,” Congressman Collins said. “In order to honor his passion for his community and his commitment to helping others, I am glad to introduce legislation renaming the post office in Bergen after Mr. Miller.”

“Barry enjoyed nothing more than serving his community and he dedicated his life to helping the people of Bergen,” stated Tracy and Loretta Miller, Barry’s parents. “This is a fitting tribute to his service, and we look forward to continuing to work with Rep. Collins to make this a reality.”

Barry Miller was a lifelong Bergen resident, graduating from Byron-Bergen High School in 1983 and serving as a member of the Bergen Volunteer Fire Department for 31 years, including 10 as assistant EMS Chief, before he was tragically killed in the line of duty. In addition to working at the Bergen Volunteer Fire Department, Barry was the Genesee County Coroner, a member of the Bergen Town Board, and owner of Miller's Millworks in Bergen and the Beaver River Lodge in the Adirondacks.

September 30, 2015 - 8:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Barry Miller, bergen.

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Christopher Cameron‎ shared this on Facebook and gave us permission to republish it on The Batavian.

Here's what he wrote:

My son was home sick today. He was on our porch with his mother when the funeral procession for Barry Miller passed. Like any 4-year-old he was amazed by it and asked a hundred questions. Later when his mom took him to Dunkin' Donuts he saw "a sad firefighter drinking coffee." When I got home from work he was playing with his Legos on the floor. He told me he made a memorial for the ambulance guy and all of the rescue guys were sad. So I promised him I would take this picture so that the Lego men could say goodbye. His memorial is in the center.

September 30, 2015 - 1:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Barry Miller, bergen.

For those who missed the final call for Barry Miller, broadcast by Genesee County Emergency Dispatch, at 1:30 p.m., yesterday.

 

September 29, 2015 - 8:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in bergen, Barry Miller.

Here is a complete set of pictures from today's funeral services for Barry Miller, the Bergen resident, small business owner, county coroner and volunteer EMT, who died last Wednesday when the ambulance he was riding in while responding to an emergency call ran into a piece of highway equipment.

Among the speakers was his friend, Town of Bergen Supervisor Don Cunningham, who noted the support and recognition the community showed by decorating the village with purple and black ribbons in Miller's honor. Cunningham said:

Barry wouldn't recognize those ribbons as for him. Barry would want those ribbons and that outpouring of kindness and the formal plans of today to be recognition for every man and woman in his department, for every uniformed individual here today, and for everyone who responds to help another. We can quickly forget that it could be any one of these first responders lynig before us here today. Barry wouldn't want us to forget that.

September 29, 2015 - 3:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in Barry Miller, funeral.

Photos of Barry Miller's funeral service in Chili, by Howard Owens.

September 29, 2015 - 12:25pm
posted by Billie Owens in Barry Miller, bergen.

Robert Hilchey and his 2-year-old grandson Parker.

About 250 first responders from throughout New York State are at the funeral service in progress for Bergen's Barry Miller. The private, closed service is under way at Pearce Memorial Church on the campus of Roberts Wesleyan College in Chili. Because of the number of attendees, a closed-circuit television is set up inside the Cultural Life Center for viewing the service.

After opening remarks from Pastor Matthew French, the song of hope "I Will Rise" was sung by Craig Deats, followed by a prayer by Pastor Wally Fleming. Then they sang "Amazing Grace" and read Psalm 23, followed by a Gospel lesson offered by Pastor Michael Merry. The sermon is being given by Pastor Matthew French. Witnesses to the life of Barry Miller will speak, including Don Cunningham, Julie Donofrio, Scott Schmidt and Kevin Finacune.

Another song of hope "My Tribute, to God Be the Glory" is to be performed by Sonya Catalano. Pastor Dan Finch will say a commendation prayer and a prayer of Thanksgiving. The Lord's Prayer will be said, followed by "The Firefighter Song" with PJ Cummings. "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" will close the service, followed by a dismissal blessing offered by Pastor Matthew French.

September 29, 2015 - 7:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Barry Miller, bergen.
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The Bergen Fire patch with Barry Miller's Line of Duty Death black band that has been common on Facebook the past few days.

Miller's funeral service is at 11 a.m. at Pearce Memorial Church, 4322 North Buffalo Road, North Chili.

Click here for his full obituary.

The death of Barry Miller has affected many people in Genesee County, not just his fellow volunteers in the fire services or in the close-knit community of Bergen.

In stores, during public events, at coffee shops and restaurants, on social media, it's what people have been talking about.

Shock, grief and an understanding that our community has lost somebody who made a daily, positive contribution are the thoughts and emotions people are dealing with.

Barry Miller touched a lot of people throughout the county.

"Over the past 10 years, knowing Barry has been one of my more cherished relationships I've been able to develop," said Batavia City Manager Jason Molino.  

Molino first got to know Miller through Leadership Genesee and their paths cross professionally many times over the years, including during meetings and discussions about the city's ambulance service in 2009.

Molino remembers Miller was just a very caring and dedicated person with real sense of esprit de corps.

"He was very gung-ho and very supportive of the community as a whole," Molino said. "Some people have a gift for giving and I think Barry was one of those people. It was something he really valued and something he took a lot of pride in and I think it showed in the outpouring for him and for the Bergen Fire Department."

If gusto for life is measured by how much you do with it, Miller's cup was never half empty. He owned a successful cabinet-making business and a vacation lodge in the Adirondacks, served on town council, was deeply involved in the Bergen ambulance service, was a county coroner and organized or participated in numerous county events. Through all this, hundreds of people in Genesee County came to know Miller as a kind, fun and caring man.

"He lived life the way you should try to live it," said Rusty Breton, a local contractor and another fellow graduate of Leadership Genesee. "He was like a little headlight on a good way to get through life."

Miller was a mentor to many -- all of the people he helped get through EMT training in Bergen and to more than one new county coroner, including Karen Lang.

"If you came into this and didn't already love the coroner thing, he would make you love it the way he loved it," Lang said.

Lang said Miller was fascinated by the details of the job. Lang and others we've spoken to about Miller's coroner's work said he was fastidious about the details, never wanting to overlook anything that might be relevant to a case, and he was fascinated by the nuances and variances of each case he handled.

"We talked to each other all the time about our cases," Lang said. "I'd text him or he would text me, 'I've never seen anything like this before.' We knew each other would appreciate it."

Lang and Miller went to coroner conferences together, eager to learn and share knowledge.

"He always told me if I got stuck on something, I could call or text him anytime," Lang said. "It could be 10 a.m. or it could be 3 a.m. and he would always answer right away."

Social media has been packed with tributes to Miller, with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people changing their avatar to a copy of Bergen fire's arm patch with a black band and white letters reading "L.O.D.D. 9/23/2015" (Line of Duty Death). 

Retired deputy Dan VanValkenburg posted such a tribute in part because he's one of the people Miller inspired to become a volunteer EMT. For VanValkenburg, Miller is the second closest associate he's lost in a LODD. He wrote on Facebook: 

On one of the worst days of my professional career, I was sent to the home of Deputy (Frank) Bordonaro to meet his wife after his tragic death on July 8, 2014. Although that didn't transpire, I only received comfort from the county coroner who arrived on scene for the pronouncement of his death. Barry walked me through it after I sobbed at the loss of my friend. I now mourn him after his tragic death. He helped me obtain my EMT certification earlier this year and I hope to make him proud. I will miss you and god speed to your heavenly journey.

Deputy Chris Parker worked with Miller both on cases involving real loss for friends and family and the imaginary loss of DWI drills at area high schools. Miller, Parker said, was always a ready volunteer to play the part of coroner at a fatal DWI crash at any high school in the county, and whether on a drill or in the event of an actual death, Miller was professional, compassionate and cared about the details.

"He was meticulous," Parker said. "He was good at being able to sit down with the family and get to know that person to make sure he did his job correctly and that he honored the person and was true to that person. It seemed that way for every call he went on."

Miller was a man of many talents. Anybody who has seen the podiums and desks and media centers that came out of Miller Millworks knows how he had finely honed his craft. Those who served with him politically and in community service say he was adept at dealing with any situation he might confront. He also ran a heck of an inn, according to those who have stayed at the Beaver River Lodge.

"I don't think there wasn't anything he couldn't do," Lang said. "All of these people who think he was so amazing don't even realize a quarter of the stuff he could actually do."

Breton stayed at the lodge several times, usually in winter during snowmobiling trips. The lodge is an old resort well off the beaten path, the way Breton described it. In the winter, it was a seven-mile snowmobile trip to get to it, but on weekends that Miller was going to have guests staying there, he would leave work on Thursday, haul propane and beer and food those seven miles and de-winterize the place and get it ready for guests.

The lodge could accommodate 30 guests, though there were seldom that many for winter stays, Breton said, but it was usually booked full on summer weekends.

Annually, Miller donated a stay at the lodge to the auction of Bidding on a Brighter Future Gala sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Batavia, which helped raise money for the Child Advocacy Center. It was always a popular auction item.

"It was an awesome place and it was awesome because of Barry," Breton said.  "He made it awesome. I don't know that anybody could do it the way Barry did it. Most people aren't wired like that. He made you feel like you were staying in your own place."

Though as contractor and cabinetmaker, Breton and Miller frequently did business together, Breton said he's most going to miss Miller as a friend.

"As I've gotten older, I understand better how important it is to surround yourself with quality people," Breton said. "You could bounce ideas off of Barry. Whatever your struggle was, business, family, life, whatever your struggle, you could bounce it off him and he would just have some wisdom for you."

Lang felt much the same way. There was hardly a day since she became a coroner that she and Miller didn't at least text each other, always about what cases they were working on or new things they were learning.

And Barry always answered immediately.

Until last Wednesday morning.

At 7:40 that morning, Lang learned a Bergen ambulance had been involved in an accident. She knew Miller might be on that accident, so she sent him a message.

No response.

"Please text me and tell me and tell me you're OK."

No response.

"I knew it was him," she said. "I knew he was gone."

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