Shari Daly Miller was born on April 22, 1966. Her dad was a seller of shoes. Her mom was an average 70’s housewife, and helped out with the administrative duties at the Lakewood Congregational church. Granddad was a Congregational minister. As far back as Shari can remember, the family was immersed in the church.
When the time came for Shari to start school, mom decided to send her up to the Mountain Open Living School in
Evergreen because she was sure that Shari could not sit still in a school chair. It was an hour long bus ride up the mountain from Lakewood (West Denver) every morning. Fortunately for Shari she possesses a prodigious power for sleep. She would awake to an idyllic mountain setting (Evergreen before all of the housing developments). Picture towering Ponderosa Pine whispering in the wind, a creek running through the schoolyard, and granite caves to explore in the foothills… . The bus ride down the mountain was quicker and often joyful – hippie teenagers playing the guitar and singing Crosby, Stills & Nash songs… Shari didn’t study a lot of math.
In the fifth grade Shari returned to regular school. It was a culture shock. She did not like it. She was not happy. The middle school years were a struggle. She felt awkward, and doomed. She had red hair and big feet and was skinny as a stick. (Her shoe size did not change after the age of 12.)
High school was better. Shari enjoyed art and choir, but the Field Studies Program was the saving grace that carried Shari through to graduate high school. It was an experiential education program with urban, rural, and wilderness units. They did backpacking, rafting, and farming. Shari was encouraged to submit her urban unit portfolio to a large Scholastic Art show. Her portfolio won a scholarship to the University of Denver.
The summer after high school Shari got a job delivering flowers. The shop had two delivery vans – she took the deliveries to the north and this other guy took the deliveries to the south. She thought this guy was kind of cute, until one day he took off his hat and these gorgeous ringlets fell down around his shoulders. Oh my! David suddenly became exquisitely interesting. Shortly after the hair revelation the path of the two vans would somehow happen to cross around lunch break. All the flowers!
Love, love, love. It wasn’t long before Shari knew that David Miller was “the guy”, the guy she wanted to be her Daly mate and the father to their children. His ‘genes’ fit well and his stride kept time to a rhythm of beautiful philosophies. Shari graduated from DU with a degree in Fine Art in 1988, and they were married a year later.
To her surprise, Shari enjoyed college life and time flew by quickly. (During this time David was getting a Philosophy degree from the University of Colorado – Denver campus.) Before Shari knew it she was graduated and looking for fellowship. College was the only time in her life when she didn’t attend church groups. At this time Shari recalled a long past conversation with a youth advisor at the Congregational Church Camps. She had explained to her that she liked the church camp community, but wasn’t too sure about all the Jesus stuff. She replied “That’s all right Shari, you are just a Unitarian.” So Shari stopped by to check out Jefferson Unitarian, and found her spiritual home. David was skeptical and resistant at first, but when he gave it a whirl he fell in love with the place and its open-minded space. He was amazed that he could bring all of his philosophies along with him to church.
Shari and David began contemplating a downshift to a smaller town. They sent feelers out to many communities in Colorado. David had been experimenting, working with printing presses and coming to love the beauty of these machines. The first job offer came from Colorado Printing in Grand Junction, so they loaded up the truck and headed our way (though most of us weren’t yet here).
After finding a place to unload their stuff, they found a small floundering UU Fellowship. Shari found life lacking without church groups to participate in. She missed the connection to church that she’d had most of her life. She needed community. She needed hugs and handshakes, small-groups and choir to throw her arms around. She needed a place to help nurture her children. She needed to congregate, UU style.
Shari brought her contagious enthusiasm into rebuilding the local Unitarian Universalist Congregation, and with the help of the Oswalds, the VanDuesens, the Cummings, and many others, created a vibrant community. Within a few years the defunct UU Fellowship rose from the dead to become an energetic congregation, teeming with young families and a thriving religious education program. A few of Shari’s first UU converts were friends from her homebirth class. Yes, Arlo in utero was responsible for the resurgence of Unitarian Universalism in the Grand Valley! And then Rudy came along a few years later, running around with his nonstop energy to keep everybody hopping! The congregation received the Rising from the Ashes Award from the Mountain Desert District of the UUA. Woohoo!
Along the way there have been ups and downs within the congregation. The most uplifting experience for Shari was witnessing the growing support for gay and transgender people. So cool! Shari had a big hand in the transition for us to become an official Welcoming Congregation. And it was wonderful to be involved in hosting the yearly UU Mountain Desert District (members from Texas to Montana) meeting. This was a huge undertaking, especially for a small congregation, but the UUCGV pulled it off with accolades. We rented the Two Rivers Convention Center, and it was filled with a multitude of UU people attending various events taking place over a three-day weekend.
In 2009 Shari and David divorced. It was about as amicable as these things can be. The weekends were happy times, spent with her teenagers Arlo and Rudy. Then, the following year Shari and Robert McDonald rediscovered one another in a new way, with an aura of romantic music playing in the background. They linked arms and slid easily into loving, contented cohabitation. And a while later Billie Sage became a roommate, and then Connie Murillo and her boys took up residence in the upstairs apartment. It was a happy rollicking household.
And then, suddenly, there was a black hole in the backyard. Connie Murillo passed on, became an unbound big-hearted spirit. And though Nicolai and Cohen are now in good hands, their absence was also strongly felt. Grieving hit the household hard. They are just now beginning to resurface, and learn to dance with Connie’s beatific big-hearted spirit. Connie lives on in their experience of the (sometimes gut-wrenching) beautiful everyday.
Church is a big part of Shari’s life. Over the years she’s been enmeshed in UUCGV leadership and an unceasing doer of tasks. Shari is looking forward to the coming school year as the staff coordinator of the children’s Religious Education program. It’s always a joy to see the wee ones running around, the teenagers becoming adults. And with autumn around the corner, be sure to enjoy all the eye-popping flowers, all of the colorful flower art surrounding our building. Shari is the planter and caretaker of the beauty! She also has a hand in the beautification inside the building.
Shari is an artist extraordinaire. Throughout her lifetime she’s worked with about every imaginable art form – painting, sculpting, felting, photography, gardening, etc… Shari’s desire is to create and share beauty, to bring beauty into people’s lives. “Open your eyes, look around and recognize the beauty of the world!”
Life goes on… in endless song…