In memory of
Jonathan James Miller
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In memory of
Jonathan James Miller
Jonathan James Miller, age 35, of North East, our beloved son, brother, and friend, died of an accidental drug overdose on Tuesday, February 14, 2017. Jon was a talented artist, amazing musician/songwriter, and gifted educator. Smart, compassionate, off-the-wall creative, and deeply philosophical, he believed in the power of art to transform lives, from the very young to the very old. A graduate of North East High School, Jon earned his bachelor's degree in fine arts and master's degree in art education from Edinboro University. As a student teacher, he worked with the CHAMPS and GEARS after-school programs for at-risk students in the City of Erie School District. Jon explored contemporary social issues with a diverse group of refugees who attended East High School, learning as much from his students and they learned from him. Jon later served as a substitute teacher and full-time art educator in several Erie County school districts. Over the years, he was a tattoo artist; a carving-tool maker at FlexCut Tools; a seasonal park supervisor for the Harborcreek Township Parks Department summer recreation and arts and crafts programs; an instructor for the kids after-school and also an art instructor for the North East Arts Council. He exhibited his artwork at many galleries throughout the region. From an early age, Jon was devoted to the local music scene, composing songs and performing his edgy music on drums, guitar, and as a vocalist in bands, including Never Say Never, Black Rose Diary, Dirt McGurtt, and Johnny James and the Absolutes. He once played rocker Riff Raff in the Roadhouse Theatre's Rocky Horror Show Concert. In March 2016, the Holquist Electroflux Experimental Music Series brought two Japanese noise-rock artists, Goat and Kyozin Yueni Dekai, to Erie for a cultural exchange. Jon enjoyed conversations with these musicians and was honored to play improvisational guitar with the opening band, Johnny James and the Indeterminates. In recent years, Jon was a student of the traditional Japanese art of bonsai. He applied his creativity to miniature living landscapes, practicing patience and mindful meditation. One of his favorite activities was sketching original cartoon characters for his nieces, nephews, and students. Through his journey and ours, we have learned that addiction is an illness. It is a physical, mental, and spiritual disease that affects every area of life. We have found that compulsive use of drugs does not indicate a lack of affection for family, friends and co-workers. It is not a moral issue; it is an illness. Our addicted loved ones' inability to control their use of drugs is a symptom of the disease. Even when they know what will happen when they take the first, drink, pill, or fix, they will do so. This is the "insanity" we speak of in regard to this disease (Adapted from Naranon Family Groups). The disease is more powerful than we could ever have imagined. The day before he died, Jon expressed his desire to live and his optimism about his future. He yearned for a life without anxiety and pain so that he could make his unique contributions to the world. We grieve for all that Jon was, and could have become, once well. We grieve for family and his many friends who are suffering now in his absence. Jon is survived by his mother, Lisa Gensheimer, and stepfather, Rich Gensheimer; sister Emily Johnson (Jamie); stepsisters Emily Ferko (Jared) and Beth Newman (Brian); grandmother Marilyn Garfield; many nieces and nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins; and his Boston terrier and best friend, Hank. Jon was preceded in death by his father, Timothy E. Miller, his maternal grandfather George Garfield, and his paternal grandparents, Edward and Janet Miller. The best way to honor Jon's love for the arts is to make a contribution to the Performing Arts Collective Association (PACA), 1505 State St., Erie, PA 16501; or to Catholic Charities, 429 East Grandview Blvd., Erie, PA 16514, whose drug, alcohol and grief counseling services helped strengthen Jon's mental and spiritual well-being throughout his struggle. A memorial service will be announced at a later date. Funeral arrangements are being handled by the William D. Elkin Funeral Home, 65 South Lake Street, North East. Please send condolences to . Sign the Guestbook at
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Elkin Funeral Home
65 South Lake Street, North East, PA 16428
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