Remembering Carl Miller
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 both.”