BY JOHN J. HOPKINS
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The Barker community is rallying around the family of Tyler Miller after the 14-year-old passed away unexpectedly Saturday.
Miller, who had just started his freshman year at the high school, was a member of the Barker/Roy-Hart junior varsity football team.
Barker Superintendent of Schools Roger J. Klatt said he learned of Miller's death on Sunday.
"He was an outstanding young man; he excelled in both the classroom and on the field," Klatt said. "He was a model student-athlete who had a passion for football."
Students and members of the Bar-Lyn program showed their respect for Miller and his family Sunday evening, holding a vigil on the Barker football field.
Klatt conservatively estimated there were 400 people on hand. He said the school's home bleachers were filled, with additional people spilled onto the field.
"It was an appropriate place to honor his life," Klatt said. "It was just remarkable. I'm so proud of our students and the people who came to that vigil to show the parents that we're with them and our hearts are broken with them."
People came from Lyndonville, Royalton, Hartland and Newfane to show their support.
Klatt notified the Barker Central Schools staff of Miller's death on Sunday. He said grief counselors were on hand Monday at the school to assist teachers, staff and students. A "grieving area" was set up in the middle school gymnasium.
According to Klatt, the Lyndonville, Newfane, Wilson, Roy-Hart and Medina school districts all sent counselors to Barker to assist. Clergy from several local churches were also on hand to help with the grieving process.
"We have supportive neighboring districts," Klatt said. "It's really been a wonderful effort on behalf of the entire community to support the students and the family."
Klatt praised the Barker community for stepping up in a time of tragedy.
"I'm proud to be a part of that," he added.
Miller served as defensive coordinator for the Bar-Lyn Varsity Tigers football team which his father Jeff coaches. The team consists of 12- and 13-year-olds from the Barker and Lyndonville areas and competes in the Niagara-Orleans Football Association.
"He took great pride in helping his dad coach the younger players of the Bar-Lyn program," said Klatt. "He was a very outgoing young boy. He made friends very easily. His loss will be felt for some time."
A "mourning flag" was raised on the flag pole, just below the American flag. Klatt said it will fly through the end of the week.
Miller's obituary appears on page 4A of today's paper.