Orleans coroner gives eulogy at funeral for Bergen EMT

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 September 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos courtesy of Howard Owens/The Batavian – Bergen firefighters arrive outside Pearce Memorial Church with the late Barry Miller, a volunteer emergency medical technician who was killed in the line of duty on Sept. 23.

NORTH CHILI – Hundreds of people gathered on Tuesday to mourn the loss of Bergen EMT Barry Miller, who died in the line of duty on Sept. 23. Orleans County Coroner Scott Schmidt was among the speakers to eulogize the volunteer firefighter during a funeral service at Pearce Memorial Church.

Schmidt is president of the New York State Association of County Coroners and Medical Examiners. He knew Miller the past three years when the two attended training sessions together.

“He was a great guy and a valued member of the NY State Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners, and a great colleague and friend,” Schmidt said in an email message.

Miller “was an active and enthusiastic member” of the coroners’ group, which Schmidt said is like a family.

“He instantly became a fixture at conference weekends because of his friendly demeanor and his willingness to not only learn, but to help out in any way,” Schmidt said.

He spoke at the funeral as president of NYSACCME. Schmidt wanted to let the community know another side of Miller in his dedication in the role as a coroner.

Here is the text of Schmidt’s address during Miller’s funeral:

“Mr. and Mrs. Miller, Pam and David, Rebekah, Rachal, Shannan and all of Barry’s family, brothers and sisters in EMS and the Fire Service, his professional colleagues and friends. My name is Scott Schmidt and I am the Chief Coroner in Orleans County, a Funeral Director having worked with Barry helping several families from Genesee County, a 25-plus year member of the Albion Fire Department, a 10-plus year Chaplain of the WNYVFA and President of the New York State Association of Coroners and Medical Examinersotherwise known as NYSACCME.

Barry Miller

“NYSACCME is a NY State Association of 130-plus Coroners, ME’s, EMS, Law Enforcement, Firefighters and Organ Procurement Organizations from around the State and beyond. We are dedicated to providing continuing education in the field of Medicolegal Death Investigation and are advocates for the advancement of Forensic Science. On behalf of our membership, Board of Directors and Officers, allow me to extend our heart-felt sympathies to all of youalong with OUR sadness and countless thoughts and prayers following the death of Barry.

“John Wesley said, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, for as long as you can.”

“Having first met Barry 3 years ago at NYSACCME’s last Coroner 101 class in Cooperstown, that statement is the true personification of Barry. He introduced himself as my neighbor to the South and said that he was, “pretty excited to be here!”

“There was a presence surrounding him which exuded confidence but also an eagerness to absorb and learn as much as he could by attending the 8 hour training class.

“Our class began … and halfway through the first presentation we encountered a computer freeze-up. The presenter vocalized through the microphone that there was a problem and as I looked around for the usual person who helps out when we have AV snafus, he was no where to be found.

“So this prompted me to walk up to the podium and start ‘looking like’ I knew what I was doing. As I was scrolling around the screen with the cursor, Barry quietly approached and said, “Maybe I can help!

“He made one or two key strokes, moved thismoved that and VIOLA! We were back in business. He was instantly commissioned NYSACCME’s I-T Technician. As recently as last weekend in Fairport at our Fall Educational Conference, Barry had purchased a “Techno-Bag” for us {which included any and every cable, device, or product we would ever need for presentations}to help alleviate any further AV issues.

“At that same conference and during a presentation following dinner, Barry vaulted from his chair to adjust the sound system accordingly because it had horrendous feedback and echo.

“Always a person who was giving back, he had numerous times donated a weekend get-away to his family’s resort propertyBeaver River Lodge so that it might be included in our Sunshine Fund Raffle. (NYSACCME has a special fund which we use as needed to pay for flowers, fruit baskets, memorial donations or anything we can offer, to help any of our members through difficult times.) Barry’s donation was always the most coveted prize in the raffle!

“Having known him for just a few short years, being a professional colleague, being a brother firefighter and being his friend, it came as no surprise to hear that Bergen Town Supervisor Don Cunningham said this about Barry.

“Beyond the Fire Department, beyond the community, we’re all going to miss Barry. He will be missed for his ZEAL FOR LIFE.” Whether that zeal was exhibited by his woodworking, or piloting his powered parachute, or serving on the Town Board, or serving as Genesee County Coroner or by having been a 31-year member of the Bergen Fire Department and Chief of Emergency Medical Servicesone thing is clear.

Firefighters from throughout the state attended Miller’s funeral on Tuesday.

“The words over the last few days which have been used to describe him are more than accurate. Generous, Giving, Supportive, Passionate, Energetic, Eager, Patient..and so on, and so on, and so on. Quoting Supervisor Cunningham once again, ” If there’s one positive take away from this, it’s that Barry died doing what he loved. Barry loved helping people, and that is what he was doing the day he died.

“With that knowledge, listen to these words penned by Norman Vincent Peale, “Joy increases as you give it, and diminishes as you try to keep it to yourself. In giving it, you will accumulate a deposit of joy greater than you ever believed possible.

“In closing, NYSACCME mourns with all of you as one of OUR family has left our midst. We pray WITH you, we pray FOR you and we REJOICE that we had our time with him as part of OUR family.

“Finally, allow me to echo the words of William Restler, “How rare and wonderful is that flash of a momentwhen we realize that we have discovered a friend.

“May God bless you and may God bless the wonderful soul whom we have known as Barry Miller.”

For more on Miller’s funeral, see coverage in The Batavian by clicking here and clicking here.