|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.
"Please text me and tell me and tell me you're OK."
"I knew it was him," she said. "I knew he was gone."