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Holiday Gift & Event Guide — The Altamont Enterprise, November 27, 2008


Miners give around the world

By Zach Simeone

WARNERS LAKE — The Miners, both 61, live in a cabin near Warners Lake. John Miner was born deaf, while Susan wears a hearing aid in her right ear, but is fully capable of hearing. They communicate by a combination of reading lips and signing to each other.

They believe that Jesus is the “reason for the season,” Mrs. Miner said. “Since my children were little, we worked with Equinox, cleaning pots, serving food, making gravy,” she said of the homeless shelter in Albany.

Mr. Miner added, “On Thanksgiving, we thank the Lord for all He does by working with Equinox,” of the not-for-profit organization’s annual community dinner.

Mr. Miner received speech training at Gallaudet University, the nation’s first school dedicated to the advanced education of the deaf and hard of hearing. There, he earned his bachelor’s degree in English, while learning English Sign Language and American Sign Language. The latter is based on English, but is less structured.

While on a train to Chicago in 1994, Mr. Miner woke from a nap to find his wallet was missing. He got off the train in Rensselaer, in hopes that he might be able to return home to New Haven, Conn.

Had he remained on the train, he may never have met the woman who would become his wife. Luckily for him, she earned a certificate in deaf studies from the University at Albany. They were both 47 when they met.

On Feb. 28, 1995, just three months later, they were married. Their first grandchild was born that same day.

“He really is a clown,” Mrs. Miner said of her husband.

After graduating with a master of fine arts degree from the University of Connecticut, Mr. Miner became involved with deaf theater in Greenwich Village, New York City. There, he worked with Bil Baird, a world-famous puppeteer who collaborated many times with the late Jim Henson of Muppet fame.

Born and raised in Albany, Mrs. Miner worked for many years at St. Peter’s Hospital, specializing in Alzheimer’s patients. She retired about two and a half years ago.

She has two children, Jennifer and Virginia, from an earlier marriage. The couple plans to celebrate Thanksgiving with Jennifer in Albany, and visit Virginia the following day in Doylestown, Pa. Virginia is responsible for 25 horses, and seldom has the opportunity to visit on Thanksgiving.

For Christmas, however, Virginia joins her mother and stepfather to celebrate. They visit Mr. Miner’s family in Connecticut the Friday before the holiday, too.

On both holidays, the family eats turkey. “I’m making a blueberry pie this year,” said Mrs. Miner, with a hint of anticipation in her voice. “John does the cooking, I do the baking,” she said.

But she does more than bake for the family. “We make breads and pies for those less fortunate,” she said.

They also pack shoeboxes with gifts for Operation Christmas Child. Every year, millions of these boxes are sent to children around the world.

“Last year we sent 20 boxes,” Mrs. Miner said. “That was kind of a lot.”


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