Last November 9, Graham (Chopper) Miller was struck and killed while riding his motorcycle home from work. He was 47 years old.
Graham will be remembered by his father and brother, both of Toronto, and his many, many friends and students in Edmonton and Toronto and from around the world.
Graham was born in Pasadena California where his parents (both Canadians) were graduate students. The family settled in Toronto in 1966 where Graham was educated, becoming fluent in French in the process. His parents took him on many extended trips all over the world so that Graham developed an early familiarity with travel and other cultures. He first discovered (English) rugby in high school. This became a lifelong passion. After graduation from high school he worked in a restaurant, starting as the salad bar busboy and finishing as first cook. Next he worked as a courier and is still famous in those circles as being the highest earning courier ever. Graham next embarked on a career as a helicopter pilot. After many years of crisscrossing Canada and the States on his motorbike looking for work, he ended up with Canadian Helicopters who had just landed the civilian support contract for the UN. Graham spent the next several years in some of Africa’s worst disaster zones: Rwanda, Somalia and Mozambique. He had wonderful stories of his many fixes (usually of his own making while on leave!). When this contract came to an end Graham, finding himself at loose ends, agreed to help out the family by moving to Edmonton to care for his ailing grandmother. Upon arrival he looked up the local rugby club, the Clansmen. He was instantly nicknamed ‘Chopper’ (from his helicopter years, not his love of motorcycles as many thought) and became a club fixture. He and his friend Robbie Lynch coached rugby at St. Francis Xavier H.S., an existing boys’ side and a girls’ side which they began. Both sides rapidly rose to Provincial prominence. He also enrolled at NAIT and earned a diploma in the area of information technology. While a student Graham was often asked for help from his classmates. In fact, NAIT hired Graham to tutor students who needed extra help while he was still a student himself. This led on his graduation to further contracts for summer school teaching and night school teaching, finally ending in a full time position. Graham had finally found his true calling. He won a major teaching award in 2005. About that time NAIT sent him to China to teach at their program in Harbin. Again Graham had found an enduring love. He was well received there and was learning Mandarin and Chinese characters. Looking to increase his education, Graham took a sabbatical and went to Cardiff University in Wales, earning his Masters degree in 2009. Back home he was teaching and planning a new course at NAIT when he was killed.
There will be a Tribute held January 7, 2012 at the NAIT Shaw auditorium at 15:30 followed by a reception at the Clansmen Rugby Club a short distance away.
NAIT has established a Graham Miller Memorial Fund. Donations should be addressed to NAIT, c/o Sabrina Giordano, 11762 – 106 St. NW, Edmonton, AB, T5G 2R1.