Friends and family packed the pews at GracePoint Church on Thursday evening to watch as 28 eighth graders graduated from Lodi Christian School. For graduate Reese Miller, her family included more than 20 California Highway Patrol officers.
The officers stood in for Reese’s father, John Paul Miller, who died in the line of duty on Nov. 16, 2007 when his vehicle struck a tree while he was pursuing a drunken driver near Livermore.
“Just knowing that my dad’s not here, and that they’re here for me is amazing,” Reese said of the officers.
Some officers came from Dublin — where John’s office was located — while others, such as Officer Mike Glanville, came from the CHP Stockton Office.
“John was a fun, caring, loving person, father and friend,” Glanville said. “He’d give you the shirt off his back, drop everything to help you.”
Glanville, who mentored John throughout his CHP career, remembered his friend as the type of person who always had his comrades’ backs, no matter what.
“Just a stand-up guy,” Glanville said. “Loved his family dearly.”
Glanville and John became fast friends, he said, with a shared love of competition that showed itself whether the two were racing each other in bounce houses at children’s birthday parties or playing basketball at church.
“Getting upset with people at church basketball games because of our competitiveness,” Glanville said with a smile.
The bond between CHP and the Miller family continued for more than a decade after John’s passing, with 20 officers surprising Chandler Paul Miller — John’s son and Reese’s older brother — at his own graduation from Lodi Christian in 2017.
Reese, who graduated on Thursday with academic honors as well as an Outstanding Bible Award, will attend Lodi High School next year where she will be a member of the varsity cheer team, competitive cheer team and possibly the track team.
“I have been looking forward to graduation for so long,” Reese said. “I’m really going to miss some people.”
This summer, Reese will attend a camp run by Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS), a nonprofit organization that assists families and coworkers of fallen officers where her mother, Stephanie Miller, volunteers.
“I’m (also) going on a cruise, and I’m going to San Diego,” Reese said.