Whom we love and lose...
She whom we love and lose
Is no longer where she was before.
She is now wherever we are.
— Saint John Chrysostom, Constantinople (c. 347-407)
We lost a dear colleague this past week. This is a difficult article to write. I first met Michel when she was the President of PA CASE back in the fall of 2002. I had just been appointed as the new CASE Executive Director on July 1, 2002. The fall CASE conference had been planned long before I came on board but I was the one who was responsible along with our great professional development chair, Dr. Jim Chapple (OH). The conference was held in October in Pittsburg, PA. It was in a lovely hotel — the William Penn Omni — in a great part of town and the city was breathtaking in the fall. Michel and PA CASE offered a lot of support. But even so we had less than 100 people attend. That was a painful first conference for me but the silver lining of the dark cloud was getting to know Michel Miller. It wasn't long after the meeting that Michel headed to Florida to work on her Ph.D. She maintained contact with me and never let her CEC/CASE membership lapse. When she finished her program, she headed back to PA and became more active in CASE. She was on the CASE Research Committee and in 2012 she became the editor of the CASE Journal of Special Education Leadership. In 2010, she married the love of her life, Steve O'Neal and they had the love of their lives, Kade less than 2 years ago! I remember I decided I wanted an iPad after Michel showed me her wedding pictures on her new iPad. The pictures were gorgeous — but it wasn't because of the iPad, it was because of the love that was so evident! Never has there been a woman who was created to be a mother more than Michel. She was so happy when baby was on his way! But, Michel still remained true to her profession and her work with CASE. She attended the CASE EC and BOD meeting just a week before Kade was born when CEC was in Philadelphia. Michel was a woman of faith, a loving wife, a tremendous teacher, trainer and mentor to students, a gifted researcher and journal editor. She was compassionate, kind, intelligent and always had time to make things better for those who needed her. She was the consummate professional and yet she was just as comfortable asking you to pray for her. I went on her facebook page and the condolences there all spoke of the character, faith and love that defined her on so many complex levels.
On Thursday, Sept. 30 while at work at Drexel University where she was an Assistant Professor, Michel suddenly became ill and was taken to the hospital where she passed away. She was 46-years-old and "she is now everywhere we are."
Our thoughts and love are extended to Steve, Kade and all of the Miller and O'Neal families as well as all of the many, many people who have been deeply touched by Michel both professionally and personally.