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Touched by an angel

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Every Sunday, Jeannie Miller and Jackie Collier would talk on the phone.Miller in Colorado, Collier in California.The two would speak – usually after Collier returned from church – about life after Glenwood Springs High School.Miller had retired after 20 years of teaching at GSHS. Collier, her former student, was now a music major at Biola University in Los Angeles.”She was a mentor, a teacher, a friend,” said Collier, via cell phone from Biola. “She gave me a musical foundation. She had such big dreams for me.”Collier cherishes those weekly phone conversations with Miller. Conversations about dreams about music and about life. Touching talks she would share with her friend about entering the music ministry field.Those conversations ended in August.After a brief six-week battle with ovarian cancer, Miller died on Aug. 20.”Whenever I’m in the practice room, I think of those phone calls,” said Collier, a sophomore at Biola. “She made me what I am musically.”Knowing that influence will be extended to other music students through a scholarship in Miller’s memory is comfort for Collier. Her father, Clayton Collier, and a committee of nearly a dozen friends, former colleagues, and Miller’s husband, Frank, have established the Jeannie Miller Memorial Scholarship Fund.”It just kind of shows what kind of person she was,” said Mike Wells, former principal of GSHS and current vice principal of Glenwood Springs Middle School.Wells and Miller worked together for 20 years at GSHS.But they were more than just co-workers.They were friends whose families spent Thanksgiving holidays together.”It was a tough thing, and in some ways it doesn’t seem real to me,” said Wells, of losing Miller. “She was a close, personal friend.”Wells said he would like to see Miller’s memory honored through the scholarship – up to 20 or 25 years from now. Larry Robinson, chairman of the scholarship fund committee, hopes each student can receive at least $1,000 each year in her name.”She was such a great person, and she had such a positive impact on so many people,” Robinson said. “She stood out in the community.”Committee treasurer Clayton Collier and his wife knew Miller before she ever influenced their daughter Jackie.

“We always respected her a lot. When Jackie got her as a teacher, we were overjoyed,” he said. “She was a top-notch individual.”Jackie Collier recalled a moment shared between the two friends during a voice lesson that showed how special a teacher she was.”Typically, voice lessons are about a half-hour, so I always scheduled mine after her work day because I knew we would go over,” she said. “One day I asked her, ‘Do you think you could sing with me?’ We sang ‘Amazing Grace’ and it was so beautiful. She had an amazing voice.”One way the committee hopes to raise money is though a benefit concert next year featuring the voices of Miller’s former students.Jackie Collier hopes to be there, too. And she would like to see the community support the Jeannie Miller Memorial Scholarship Fund.”I believe we’ve been blessed so we can bless others,” she said. “If we have the means, whether it’s monetary or not, share it.”The conversations between Jackie Collier and her mentor may have ended Aug. 20, but the dream lives on.Contact April Clark: 945-8515, ext. 16601aclark@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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