When Carl Miller passed away at the Kline Hospice House earlier this year,
his family members lost a father, a brother, an uncle, a grandfather and
a great grandfather, and Hospice lost a very dear friend.
“I speak for the entire Frederick Health Hospice family when I say
it was an honor to care for Carl during his final days at Kline House—a
home that would not exist if not for him,” said Hospice Executive
Director Carlos Graveran. “It was after seeing the care his mother
received in a hospice house in Pennsylvania that Carl and his late wife
Norma had a vision to make that resource available in Frederick County.”
Laurel Cucchi, who served as Frederick Health Hospice’s Executive
Director for 34 years until her retirement in 2016, clearly remembers
the day Carl walked into her office to ask her if she had ever considered
building a hospice house for Frederick County. At that point, Laurel produced
a folder from her desk drawer labeled “The Dream.” Inside
were 20 years-worth of notes outlining what a residential hospice facility
might look like…a safe option for patients who were unable to stay
in their homes during their final days, where they could receive the full
spectrum of hospice services in a home-like setting.
Carl Miller was driven to help make “the dream” of a hospice
house a reality for the people of Frederick County. He donated 14 beautiful
acres of farmland for the building site and reached out to his friends
in the trades to have construction services either donated or deeply discounted.
In September of 2002, the Kline Hospice House—named in honor of
Carl’s late mother-- opened its doors.
In 2004, Carl and Norma helped fund the Billy Miller Neonatal Intensive
Care Unit at Frederick Health Hospital—one of the many things the
couple did in the course of their lives to honor the memory of their oldest
son who died in infancy in 1955.
“It still brings tears to my eyes when I recall the story Carl told
me about when he was a young father in the 1950s making $150 a week with
a sick baby boy in the hospital and medical bills he could not afford
to pay,” says Graveran. “Carl explained that Easter Seals
had paid all but $1 of that $7,100 bill, and—with tears in his eyes—he
told me, ‘I vowed right then to pay that money back someday. I’ve
repaid over $8 million dollars, and I still haven’t paid that debt!’
For me, I think that one story, more than anything, captures the essence
of who Carl was; a truly special human being, and the most caring soul
I’ve ever met.
Every Thursday morning, Carl and Norma would stop by the Hospice office,
with loads of fresh vegetables from their garden and bags of assorted
chocolate treats for the staff and volunteers.
“Carl would have his cup of coffee and Norma her hot chocolate, and
Carl would entertain us with his stories about hunting and salmon fishing
in Alaska,” said Cucchi. “After Norma passed, Carl continued
with his weekly visits, which we all cherished. He continued to tell us
stories of his travels and adventures, but eventually he would always
come around to talking about the things that mattered most to him: his
children and grandchildren, and his beloved Norma.”
“Carl knew the secret of a life well-lived,” she continued.
“He never forgot how fortunate he was, and he would often say, ‘We
all have a responsibility to not just enjoy our lives but to make a difference
to others whenever we can.’ It’s impossible to know how many
people Carl helped in his lifetime, but his legacy will continue for generations.”
“Some people are one-of-a-kind. Others are heroes. Carl Miller was