We offer personal tributes for choral director Dr. Tom “Doc” Miller (retiring after 36 years at WP) and math professor and men’s basketball coach Bart Valentine ’75 (retiring from coaching) from alumni who know them well.
By Greg Borror ’83
When my classmates and I walked into college our first day, we were filled with self-doubt, excitement and curiosity about the kind of people we would become. Some of our first clues emerged as we got to know our professors.We would learn from their knowledge, experience, teaching techniques and their personalities.
After meeting several of my first year professors, I told my mother, “If I can learn everything these people want to teach me, this year could change my life!” Little did I know how profoundly that would be true because of one man, choral director Dr. Thomas “Doc” Miller.
Having spent my entire life singing in choir, I was sure there wasn’t much more I could learn. Was I ever mistaken. The first lesson Doc taught me was the importance of musical interpretation — translating the composer’s heart and the lyricist’s mind. Once the notes are mastered, the rhythms solidified, and the markings memorized, the real work began.
Doc knew how to make the music his own and how to communicate it to his choirs. Such interpretation can translate into other aspects of life, such as finding a spouse, living for a specific God-given purpose, or even knowing how to understand people and scripture.
Doc also demonstrated a safe blend of spiritual and academic life. Many professors were no-nonsense educators who projected the sobriety of our college experience — and we needed it. Yet, it was refreshing for us to find in Doc all the seriousness of a competitive music program (we scored the highest marks at regional and national conferences), while also having a blast rehearsing hard music with discipline and integrity.
Life is a blend of fun and the serious, the sad and the victorious, the tame and the dangerous, the spiritual and the physical. It is a challenge to keep it all in balance.
Finally,Doc taught us to strive for and expect excellence. He believes music can bring hearts close to Jesus and elevate minds. Excellence is a hard taskmaster, but the rewards are vast. Working over the years with Doc — now my friend, Tom — I have always been reminded of the joy of striving for the very best.
Greg Borror ’83 is senior pastor of Mt. Park Church in Lake Oswego, Ore.
by Jared Valentine ’01
My day started at 6:45 am. I rolled out of bed and helped my wife pack lunches, make breakfast, get the kids ready, and hurry out the door in time to drop my 7-year-old son off at school. Then I’m off to a full day’s work in the Student Affairs Office at Warner Pacific College, where I spend my day encouraging, correcting, teaching and lovingly parenting college students as they navigate through life.
They say the best fathers aren’t those that tell a son how to live. They live and let their sons watch. I’ve never reflected on this until now, but I have become my father.
My dad, Bart Valentine, is retiring after 36 years of coaching, thirteen of which he spent at Warner Pacific. He is an excellent basketball coach. He has won many games and championships and has earned plenty of accolades, but winning is not what he values, nor what he does best. My dad is at his best on the basketball court, encouraging, correcting, teaching and lovingly parenting players.
My father is the most doggedly focused coach players have ever seen. He sets his mind on a goal and doesn’t give up until it’s complete. He is gracious to a fault. We’ve watched as opposing coaches and players with the toughest backgrounds imaginable yield to his love. He is at his best when all others have lost hope. No matter how many points we were behind, he stayed positive and kept working hard.These are the lessons he taught us as our coach.
Now we are the coaches, teachers, and parents. We have faith in our goals, we give grace instead of judgment, and we hope instead of despair. Dad, thank you for walking before us. Thank you for sharing your life with us. Thank you for being our coach.
Jared Valentine ’01 is the interim assistant dean of student affairs and the associate head coach of the men’s basketball team at Warner Pacific.