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Obituary Stories

Dispatcher exuded professionalism during Western Psych crisis

| Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, 12:01 a.m.
Janet B. Miller
Janet B. Miller

No other day at work for dispatcher Janet Miller was like March 8, 2012.

“She was very calm and collected during the Western Psych shooting. Because of her level-headedness, Janet kept everyone else that way. She was a real professional and had her act together as a person,” said Gerry Soukup, a University of Pittsburgh police dispatcher and longtime friend of Mrs. Miller's.

That day, John F. Shick, 30, of Oakland carried two semi-automatic pistols into Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic and killed therapist Michael Schaab, 25, of Regent Square and wounded five people.

Mrs. Miller directed and passed on information to Pitt police officers, who killed Shick.

Janet B. Miller of Oakmont died Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, at Family Hospice and Palliative Care in Lawrenceville. The longtime Pitt dispatcher was 61 and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March.

Relatives and colleagues such as Soukup say Mrs. Miller had the perfect personality for a police dispatcher. One of 10 children from a Pleasant Hills family, Mrs. Miller always enjoyed being around many people, which she certainly was in a school with more than 30,000 students.

“She loved dealing with the college every day. She loved the kids and people she worked with. She loved helping people,” Nancy Molinaro of Fox Chapel said of her sister.

The mother of three children, Mrs. Miller graduated from St. Francis Academy in Castle Shannon in 1972. Her first marriage ended in divorce.

In May, Mrs. Miller married Bruce Miller, a longtime friend and Pitt police officer.

“He was the love of her life. He treats her children like they were his own,” Molinaro said.

In addition to her husband and sister, Mrs. Miller is survived by daughters Nikki Kazmierczak of Moon and Kristin Schwartz of Phoenix; a son, Jonathan Schwartz of Mt. Washington; brothers Michael Bruce of Whitehall, Richard Bruce of North Versailles, David Bruce of Belle Vernon, John J. Bruce of Baldwin; and sisters Kathleen Olson of Brentwood and Mary Anne Pediconi of Oakmont.

Friends and relatives will be received from 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in Burket-Truby Funeral Home, 421 Allegheny Ave. in Oakmont.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday in St. Mary of the Mount Catholic Church, 403 Grandview Ave. in Mt. Washington.

Memorials may be given to the Hillman Cancer Center, 5115 Centre Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15232.

Rick Wills is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7944 or rwills@tribweb.com.

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