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Memories of Mike Miller

Mike and Derek

Last Thursday, our good friend Mike Miller passed away. Many people knew Mike from the work he did for the Buffalo Central Terminal, Broadway Fillmore Alive, and most recently Preservation Buffalo Niagara. We knew Mike first as a friend, and a great advocate for Wesern New York second.

You often hear people say, “He’s the nicest guy you’ll ever meet” about a person. With Mike, this was genuinely the truth. I’ve never known another individual to be so selfless, so caring, and so genuine in everything he said and did. That was Mike – always quick to point out a person’s redeeming qualities when others might not see them. Always the level-headed mediator. Always willing to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Whenever we would have Mike over for dinner, he’d remind us he was a “meat and potatos” guy, which was both literal (seriously – we learned not to try and give the guy broccoli) and figurative. Mike was never interested in the politics of a situation, he just wanted to get things done. It’s one of the things that made him so successful at what he did. I’ll always remember the first CTRC board meeting after Russell had left and Mike assumed the role of President. He said, “My goal is to replace myself as soon as possible,” feeling that he was inadequate for the job. However, not only did he not need replacing, his work with the CTRC and BFA led to him getting his dream job as Executive Director of Preservation Buffalo Niagara.

Mike helped Amanda get her foot in the door at M&T when she was frustrated with her own career path, and was always available to her when she needed to vent about anything. He was thrilled to find out when Amanda was pregnant and called himself “Uncle Mike” to Ariella. In another month, he would have been able to celebrate her first birthday with us.

When we’d have him over for dinner, he’d arrive with a magnum of white wine and it would be gone by the end of the night. That led to one unfortunate incident of me passing out in the bathroom one night, twisting my ankle in the process, which led to ongoing ribbing about me being a lush. Sadly, ironically, last week I scheduled a physical therapy appointment for Tuesday to deal with the lingering effects of that night. I’ll have to cancel it to spend one last day with the instigator.

Losing a member of the CTRC family is sad. Losing our president and guiding light will be difficult. Losing our friend is hardest of all. God Bless, Mike. We miss you.

Mike and Amanda

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  1. Mike was one of the few friends I can say I actually loved. With my whole heart. He was such a good person, and sacrificed himself for the betterment of others and his city. He guided me personally through many crises, and understood me like only a few can. Not only was he an avid advocate for preserving our beautiful city, he was an advocate for everyone he knew. Even when he was upset with a decision someone may have made, he never spoke badly about them, he tried to see their side of it. And if either Derek or I were upset, he would calmly tell us why it had to be the way it was, and he always helped us to understand.

    He called me ‘Honey’, as I’m sure he did for many of the young ladies in his life. He always made me feel as if I mattered. The thing with Mike, is that everyone DID matter to him. There was no pretense, or pretending. He liked everyone and everyone was family to him. He always kept to himself at M&T, and I am sad that I never got him to have lunch with me at least once. We were always walking over to Tim Horton’s with a group of coffee junkies, and yes, his office door (when he had one) was ALWAYS open to me. Very rarely would he tell me he was busy and couldn’t talk. I joked with him about his sweaters he always wore, and his gold star he received for doing his financial work. He always had a good natured banter with me about it, and we would laugh.

    He would have been thrilled to know Ariella is close to walking by herself, and was proud to have a new “niece”, although his real family was never far from his heart. He would always tell me he loved me before he left from having dinner with us, and I hope he knows that I meant it when I said it in return.

    His family is lucky to have had him for so much longer than some of us did, but I am thankful that they shared him with the rest of us. Knowing Mike has enriched my life immensely, and he has taught me so much about the way to treat people and how to live. I have lost friends before this, tragically and quickly without warning. It never gets easier, and Mike is no exception.

  2. I became a CTRC member in August of last year, but I didn’t get to meet Mike for the first time until the members only tour. He quickly became a good friend, and I would see him and Mark walking around the terminal together during Saturday work parties and events. He would always say hi, and he was very good at remembering names. I last spoke with him during Russell Pawlak’s calling hours, and he seemed very excited with his new position at Preservation Buffalo Niagara. He joked about Catherine Schweitzer not getting any sleep, like the Energizer bunny, and talked a little about how Russell was in his final days as CTRC president. I still remember the cute little blip about the marshmallow peeps that he stuck in the CTRC message board. Losing Mike is like losing a brother. His shoes at both the CTRC and Preservation Buffalo Niagara are going to be some very tough shoes to fill. I think both organizations are going to have to do some serious soul searching there. Both will emerge stronger because of the guidence and direction Mike gave to them during his short tenure there.

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