Phyllis Anne (Stevens) Miller
April 29, 1929 – July 20, 2022
Phyllis Anne (Stevens) Miller, loved by family and friends, went to Heaven peacefully on July 20, 2022 at the age of 93. Predeceased by husband, John D. Miller, Jr.; brother, Lindsley “Steve” Stevens; sister, Alice Stevens Volechenisky; parents, Asa Hilbert and Lela Lindsley Stevens. Survived by children: Anne Miller, John Miller III (Katherine), Kristin Griffey, and Karin Schultz (Charles); grandchildren: Raymond Griffey (Shannon), Kylie Foss (Chris), William Griffey, and Jack Griffey; great-grandchildren, Beatrice Lindsley Foss and Louise Colibri Foss.
Phyllis was born into a family of prolific educators and musicians in Athens, Pennsylvania on April 29, 1929. She graduated second in her class from Athens High School and went on to study Church Music at Westminster Choir College where she achieved both Bachelors and Masters degrees. That’s also where she met John Miller and fell in love. At Countryside Community Church, Phyllis and John wrote beautiful music and encouraged young people to discover and develop their talents in music. Phyllis retired after 30 years in May of 2002.
VISITATION: Wednesday, July 27, 2022 from 5pm to 7pm at Countryside Community Church, 13130 Faith Plaza, Omaha, 68144. MEMORIAL SERVICE: Thursday, July 28, 2022 at 11am at Countryside Community Church. The family would like guests to wear colorful clothing. Donations will be accepted by the family to defray costs related to Phyllis’ care and final expenses.
Phyllis Anne Stevens was born on April 29, 1929 in Athens, Pennsylvania, to Lela (Lindsley) and Hilbert Stevens. Her family tree was full of talented musicians, educators, and a distinguished heritage that included a DAR chapter named for her ancestor and revolutionary war hero, Lt. Asa Stevens. Phyllis’s father played clarinet in a local Dixieland Jazz band, and both parents were active members of their church choir. Phyllis was the youngest of their three children. Her older brother, Lindsley, also played clarinet in a local dance band, while oldest sister, Alice, was both a teacher and lifelong learner. At age 12, Phyllis began studying voice, and joined her parents in the church’s chancel choir.
Phyllis graduated from Athens High School, where her sister taught her French class, and her uncle was principal as well as superintendent. She went on to Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in church music, and further cultivating her beautiful coloratura soprano voice.
While at WCC, Phyllis met her future partner and soulmate, John Daniel Miller, Jr. (of Stamford, CT), and they were married on June 18, 1955. John’s discharge from the Navy in 1956 marked the start of their 38 year journey together in a partnership of life, work, ministry and song. Rounding out the ‘50’s, their oldest daughter, Anne (1956) and son, John (1957), were born, and John accepted a position with Omaha University, which included the music ministry at nearby Dundee Presbyterian Church.
Early ’60s highlights include daughters Kristin (1960) and Karin (1963), joining the brood, and Phyllis singing in the Omaha Civic Opera Chorus, with John as director. In 1964, Phyllis began conducting children’s choirs at St. Paul Methodist, where she formed her first all boys’ choir consisting of around 20 voices, dubbed the “Crusader Choir.”
In 1966, John was offered a position with the Philadelphia Academy of Music. With that, the Miller family relocated to Media, Pennsylvania, from 1966 until 1972. During their time there, John and Phyllis continued their Music Ministry, now at Swarthmore Presbyterian, where Phyllis directed and developed the children’s choir program.
In 1972, with encouragement from longtime friends, John and Phyllis returned to Omaha and became full time Ministers of Music at Countryside Community Church, then consisting of a modest 3-choir program. Part of their agreement with Countryside included summers off, so that Phyllis and John could return to the eastern US, where both had extensive family ties. While at Countryside, the music program blossomed into a thriving 10-choir program, including seven children’s choirs – all led by Phyllis – and two bell choirs.
During those years, John and Phyllis also collaborated to co-author several youth church musicals, including Rainbow Express, As Our Faith Unfolds, Plan A, Love You Spoke a Word, Appleseed John, Everlasting Covenant, and David. The three published and professionally recorded musicals, Rainbow Express, As Our Faith Unfolds and Plan A, have been performed in churches and venues all over the world.
Phyllis continued the couple’s music ministry following John’s passing in 1993, absorbing the chancel and bell choir responsibilities. Phyllis, along with dedicated volunteer assistance, continued leading the numerous children’s and youth choirs, including the Faith Singers’ traditional summer tour, where they performed As Our Faith Unfolds throughout the continental US.
Phyllis retired from Countryside in 2002, with a grand legacy. Throughout her many years in church music, Phyllis gained cherished friendships and the respect of all who came in contact with her. As a testament to this, Phyllis’s greatest joy was upon greeting former “choir kids” at the choir room door after they had become parents themselves, and sharing in the excitement of experiencing their next generation singing and learning with Mrs. Miller.
Phyllis forever lives on in the hearts and lives of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and grand-nephews/nieces, as well as the legacy of the thousands of lives she touched, guided and influenced during her years of dedicated service in her calling as a minister of music.
I really enjoyed working with this woman . Very talented church musician! She is missed already. Rest In Peace , Phyllis.
Our deepest sympathy on the loss of your Mom. May you have peace knowing she is with her beloved John and her Heavenly Father.🙏🏼💗
Dear Beloved Family of Mrs Phyllis Miller,
I am a good friend of her daughter Kristin. All i have heard is how lovely of a lady and mother she was. I unfortunately never got the great opportunity to meet her. I know she loved the YANKEES!!!
May you rest in peace at home in the Glorious Kingdom of Heaven.
My most sincere condolences to her family and friends.
Dear Karin and family,
Heartfelt sympathies on the loss of your beloved mother. The rich legacy she leaves in her children and grandchildren will enable her to live on in beautiful memories. Love, Diane & Mike
To al of Phyllis’ family and friends.
Phyllis left a legacy of song and plays to so many throughout the years.
About eight years ago I wanted a copy of Rainbow Express for my daughter Claire who, along with son Charlie, was so active in Phyllis and John’s programs.
In the process, Phyllis and I had a most heartwarming conversation down memory lane..
Rest in peace wonderful lady.
Dearest Anne, Kristin, Karin and families,
I don’t think there’s enough room here for me to recount all of our wonderful memories surrounding your mother, and, of course, your father too. When we think back on our 32 years in Omaha what immediately comes to mind are Countryside, chancel musicals, Faith Singers’ summer trips, Omaha Symphonic Chorus, Johnny Appleseed, David the Shepherd Boy, Deja Revue, Thanksgiving with pilgrims, Messiah at Christmas, Maundy Thursday, and so many other opportunities to make beautiful music with your parents. We have missed your mom since we moved away and think about her even more today. I only wish we could tell her how much of a positive influence she had on our family’s lives. Thank you for sharing her with us.
Mike, Claire, Patrick, Ryan, Megan, Tim Walsh
Our 10 years in Omaha were made bright, spiritual, fun, and loving in part due to the Millers, Phyllis and John. Our children grew up under the care of the Millers at Countryside. Our lives are greatly enriched by these talented and dedicated musicians.
The Millers were an integral part of my life as a young person at Countryside. Their musical and spiritual talents were exceeded only by the closeness they facilitated among us as high schoolers. The rehearsals, early Sunday mornings in the choir loft, and summer performance trips are memories I cherish. Mrs. Miller will be missed; loving wishes to her family.
Phyllis and John, (and later on, their daughter, Anne), had a great influence on my son’s love of music when he starting singing at age 5 (children’s choir.) Their Music Ministry made Countryside a special place of worship.Thank you to the Miller family for great memories, and our deepest condolences to loved ones left behind. May Phyllis Rest In Peace!
Dear Millers, Phyllis deserves a very special place in heaven as I was very clearly one of the more difficult pupils she had – besides the obvious of no discernible musical talent – I was also well – difficult…..I am glad to say that Phyllis (and John and the rest of the faith singers) helped me become a much better person but sadly my musical deficiencies were too great for even their skills so I thankfully retired from singing except in my car, alone. The energy and enthusiasm (and talent) they brought to Countryside was amazing and truly made Countryside a community. My eternal thanks and may peace be with you and your families in this time.
I am one of the many hundreds of adults in this world that have the words and music of John and Phyllis in my heart and soul and brain forever! The very best kind of earworm. We shared our albums of their musicals with friends and family who also tell me they can sing entire songs and were never even a part of the faith singers. Phyllis and John made a tangible wholly positive impact on so many people. I am so thankful I knew them.
On behalf of the Wolfe family, please accept our heartfelt condolences.
It was certainly an honor and a blessing to have known Mrs. Phyllis Miller. She was such a lovely, kind, intelligent, creative and gifted woman. She was truly remarkable …
We will certainly never forget the wonderful summer memories at the lake in Pennsylvania spent with Mr. and Mrs. Miller and the entire Miller family.
She will be greatly missed and will always be remembered in our hearts.
Sending our love and prayers to your entire family,
Alison M. Wolfe