A cold and rainy Delaware Park may not be the first setting that springs to mind for the sparks of a truly beautiful Buffalo love story to ignite. Yet that was the scene as two strangers who had volunteered to plant trees for Earth Day in Delaware Park met each others’ gaze, and as it turned out the seeds of a lifetime of love were also planted that day.
Jessica Miller, a teacher at Niagara-Wheatfield, had signed up to volunteer planting trees in Delaware Park for Earth Day in 2001 with her best friend Michelle; while Bryan, a Lawyer had gone as part of a group of professionals looking to volunteer their time to give back to Buffalo. Both passionate about their home city, traveling, reading, and living adventurously it was a perfect match! Almost 22 years, and three teenagers later Jessica and Bryan Miller are still as committed to the Buffalo Olmsted Parks and the community as they are to each other.
After hearing their wonderful story, we knew it was one that had to be shared (especially for Valentine’s Day!), and Jessica was kind enough to sit down with us and give us the inside scoop.
Can you tell us how you and your husband met?
My best friend Michelle and I had volunteered to help plant trees in Delaware Park for Earth Day. It was raining so we thought “do we really want to do this?” But we decided yes, we could just do it for a little while because we had committed to it and then we can go home. We started digging our holes and I looked over at the other volunteers and saw him, and I said to Michelle “Oh my gosh I love him” and she started laughing and she said she knew him! She said that he’s a lawyer, and he used to be a Boy Scout. I wanted to talk to him, but she thought he was already married so we just kept doing our thing but then he came over and started talking to me!
We went to the volunteer picnic together where we just couldn’t stop talking and then he invited me to a benefit concert at the Albright Knox called Rocking at the Knox. He was going with a group and asked if I wanted to meet, I couldn’t find anybody who would go with me, so I went by myself, and we’ve been together ever since!
My friends loved that I went by myself, they always teased me saying I was too picky and I was like well I just know what I want! I want somebody who likes to do community service, who is smart and nice. I am lucky to have him!
How did he propose?
We like hiking and he invited me to go on a hike to the eternal flame falls as I’ve never been there before. It’s a funny story because I had just had eye surgery and so I had to wear these really ugly grandmother sunglasses. When we got to the waterfall he asked if I could take the glasses off for a minute and I said I really was not supposed to, but he said just take them off quickly, so I did, and he proposed! We got married the following year and we had our wedding reception in Marcy Casino, where The Terrace is now!
Do you ever go back and visit the spot you met?
Yes! We always go back to Delaware park and we’ve tried to find the exact tree but we have no idea which one it is! We love Delaware park we go snowshoeing there, and because the tree planting was for Earth Day we either plant trees or we pick up garbage; we try to do something to commemorate the anniversary of how we met.
What had inspired you and your now husband to take part in the Delaware Tree planting in the first place?
My husband was part of a group that was called the New Millennium Group and they were a group of young professionals wanting to be part of the revival of Buffalo and just do good things for the city. For me, my family and my friends we just look for whatever opportunities are available to do community service, and this was something my friends found so it was just a usual thing for us!
Are you and your family still regular visitors to the park?
Yes absolutely! Now our kids are teenagers (Aidan, 17, Grace, 15, and Claire, 13), sometimes we have to drag them but he and I definitely go it’s our special place. We just bought a paver at Siegel Landing, it was his idea and we talked about it and we just feel like we owe so much to Delaware Park because if we hadn’t done that we wouldn’t have met each other and we wouldn’t have had our kids. It’s given us so many memories and so many good times over the years we wanted to show our appreciation. It’s a fun spot to visit now, we can take the kids there and point out our stone and you know it’s really special!
Thank you again to Jessica for sharing this beautiful story with us!
If you’d be interested in participating in any of our volunteer events you can find them here: Olmsted Volunteer Opportunities who knows, it could change your life too!
Or if you’d be interested in finding out more about our Commemorative Giving options like the Millers’ Paver follow this link: Commemorative Giving