A father’s guidance lives on for counselor
ELKHART - This will be the first Father’s Day that Sheri Miller won’t be able to spend with her dad, Rene R. Neff.
He died almost a year ago at the age of 79 and she won’t be able to give him one of his favorite gifts, ice cream.
“A pint of ice cream, from The Chief, was always a welcomed gift. He loved ice cream!” Miller said, with tears in her eyes. “I think especially in this stage of my life, not having him here for Father’s Day is even more noticed because no matter how hectic life gets, it’s a day we set aside, specifically to acknowledge fathers.”
She asked her dad many years ago about some advice for dealing with people and his words made an impact when she counsels students. His words — It’s better to build bridges than burn bridges.
“I’m a school counselor and I love my job,” Miller said. “That’s my philosophy with people. I listen to them to get to their underlying needs,” Miller said. “My dad didn’t care about the limelight. He was successful. He was a true leader and it was a gift.”
Her dad would talk with the farmers in the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (now Farm Services Agency) for 24 years about different things. He was diplomatic when he gave information, whether it be good or bad and she tries to do that., she said.
One thing her father was very adamant about was his children getting an education.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do and my dad said, ‘I want you to go to college and live on campus for one year,’” she said. “Education was very, very important to him. It made an impact on me and I went on to get my master’s degree and many hours of college beyond that.”
She finds herself saying things like her father in telling people to ‘plan ahead’ and “about building bridges rather than burning them in establishing a rapport with them,” she said.
She grew up in a Christian home where “we were raised that we were never more important than anyone else. I don’t recall them talking bad about anyone else,” Miller said. “They never said anything negative about people, rather they looked for the good and never criticized.”