When Andrew “Dale” Miller helped his mother navigate her final years, ravaged by Alzheimer’s disease, he was genuinely touched by the support he and his wife, Norma, received from the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado Springs.
“The local Alzheimer’s group was fantastic,” said Perry Karraker, the Millers’ next-door neighbor and close friend. “Dale and Norma never forgot that.”
When Dale and Norma died in 2021 — Dale of cancer in May, and Norma of COVID-related illness in November — they left the nonprofit a generous token of appreciation.
“I was surprised at first,” said Karraker, who serves as the executor of the Millers’ estate. “But when I thought about it, when I remembered what they were like, it wasn’t all that surprising.”
The Millers gave $587,500 to the Alzheimer’s Association, with a directive to use the money to provide support to Colorado families affected by Alzheimer’s.
“It was important to them that they give back to the organization that helped when Dale’s mom was struggling,” Karraker said.
The Millers moved from San Diego to the Flying Horse neighborhood on Colorado Springs’ north side in 2002, after Dale’s mother was diagnosed. They became friends with Karraker and his wife, Rebecca, almost instantly, and over the course of the ensuing 19 years, they became more like family.
“They kind of adopted us,” Rebecca said. “And we adopted them.”
Dale was just two days shy of his 89th birthday when he died in May 2021. When Norma followed him — six months to the day after his death — the Karrakers were heartbroken, but not terribly surprised.
“They were completely devoted to each other,” Karraker said. “They didn’t have children, though I know they would have made good parents. They had each other.”
When the Karrakers met with RoseMary Jaramillo, regional director for the Alzheimer’s Association office in Colorado Springs, they felt assured that the Millers’ bequest would be put to good use there.
“They wanted the money to stay local,” Karraker said.
The Millers, who were noted animal lovers, also left a gift for the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, according to Karraker.
“They were very gracious and selfless,” he said of his departed friends.
“The Millers’ generosity and dedication to community will touch generations,” Jaramillo said in a statement. “It will help us move a step closer to a world without Alzheimer’s and dementia.”
The Karrakers miss their friends — particularly during the holiday season, when the Millers liked to throw a large Christmas party for the community — but are heartened to know that the Millers’ legacy will benefit struggling Colorado families for years to come, they said.
“Everyone who met Norma and Dale fell in love with them,” Karraker said. “I wish everyone treated people the way the Millers did.”
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