Judith Ann Miller left her body on November 21, 2021, in Sedona, Arizona, where she had gone to pursue an alternative therapy for the aggressive cancer that took her life.
Judith was born in Bertha, Minnesota on November 27, 1939. Her parents, William Howard Oyster and Perle LaMay, covered her in a buffalo hide blanket and brought her home from the hospital in a horse drawn sleigh. The oldest of five girls (twins Jean and Jane, plus Juanita—aka Pete—and Jarrell), Judith spent much of her childhood following her dad around the farm while he took care of their animals. She fondly recalled sitting backwards on Nell the draft horse, leaning into her elbows on Nell’s behind so she could converse with her dad while he sat on a stool and milked cows in the barn. She learned to do farm chores at an early age and worked hard all her life. Her family lived a rustic life and only got indoor plumbing when she was in high school.
After graduating from Osakis High School in 1957, she was the first in her family to attend college, spending one year at University of Minnesota. Her next year, she transferred to University of Colorado, Boulder. She had visited Colorado as a child on a trip with her uncle Donald Oyster and her aunt Lee and she knew as soon as she saw Colorado that she wanted to live there. After a year living in north Boulder, Judith accepted an administrative job in the Physiology Department at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. One of the conditions of her employment was that she would attend classes toward a degree. Her friend and colleague at CSU, Virginia Regal, later Virginia Johnson, introduced Judith to Charles P. Miller, who was then the foreman at CSU’s animal research farm. Judith and Charles married in 1963 and she moved with Chuck and his two young sons, Jeffrey and Daniel, to Buckeye, Colorado. Chuck and Judy’s daughter Molly was born in 1965.
Judith worked with Chuck on their diary, milking cows and putting up hay, and continued to pursue her degree in Home Economics. She graduated from CSU with distinction in 1971. She went on to receive her MS in Child Development and Family Studies from CSU in 1977, completing her masters research project on the effects of the 1976 Big Thompson flood on families. She then served as director of elderly services at the Area Agency on Aging for Larimer and Weld Counties. She went on to receive her PhD in Human Development and Family Relations from University of Nebraska in 1981 and she worked as the national director of the Women’s Educational Services Association from 1981-83.
Chuck and Judy divorced in 1983 and Judith moved to the Redfeather Lakes area, where she hosted retreats for women. She met Ross Hilzer in 1984 and they were together the rest of her life. Ross and Judith ran trail rides and ran the horse stables at Glacier View and Beaver Meadows and worked as volunteer EMTs for the Redfeather Lakes Fire Department. In 1991, Ross and Judith moved together with Ross’s father Harold, to Parker, Colorado and later to Simla, Colorado where Judith and Ross operated Courage to Change, a residential drug and alcohol treatment facility. She also worked as a court appointed advocate for children in dependency, neglect and domestic relations cases.
A certified addiction counselor and practitioner of Low Energy Neurofeedback (LENS), Judith founded Soaring Hope Recovery in 2003 in the Colorado Springs area. Soaring Hope provided neurotherapy along with alternative therapies for traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), PTSD, anxiety, depression and substance abuse disorder, providing a cutting-edge paradigm shift from medication assisted therapies (MAT) to Coordinated Alternative Therapies (CAT).
Judith wrote and published academic articles, scientific case studies and books and presented widely at conferences throughout the world on addiction and recovery, family violence, therapeutic methodology, nutraceuticals, and other topics. From Fairbanks, Alaska to Australia and around the globe, Judith helped hundreds of people overcome addiction and trauma, and many of her clients testify that they are alive and thriving today only because of her tireless help and fierce belief in their ability to grow and overcome adversity. Her body may be gone but her spirit lives on in the hearts and minds of so many people she advocated for and helped to heal. Judith’s family encourages her friends and clients to find their own unique way of honoring Judith, and if they feel like sharing it or are in need of community, they may post on the Soaring Hope Recovery Facebook page.