(KUTV) It has been four years since the death of Larry H. Miller. Larry was a businessman and a philanthropist. He built an empire and a legacy in Utah. As former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman once said, “Larry was Utah and Utah was Larry.”
Larry died from complications of diabetes. He was 64 years old. Diabetes is a chronic disease where the body can’t regulate blood sugar. In the early 90’s, Larry was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Without treatment, diabetes could kill him. We recently sat down with Gail Miller to talk about Larry’s battle with diabetes. “Well by the time he was diagnosed he had to take medication every day,” said Gail. “The medication didn’t agree with him. He didn’t feel like taking it. It made him feel different than what he was feeling. And he said ‘I’m not going to take that.’ So he stopped taking everything.”
Gail now wants to talk about Larry’s battle – a battle that was kept secret from the public. “By the time he was ready to do something about it he was ready for insulin. And once you go on insulin, you’ve got that battle with blood sugars and keeping a level.” Gail says the feeling in his feet started to go and so did his vision. “It got so he couldn’t recognize people because he couldn’t see them. People would think he was being standoffish or rude and it was because he couldn’t see clearly.”
Gail says Larry’s first priority was still his work, even as diabetes started to take its toll on his health. “He always felt like he could overpower anything. If there was anything he could do something, it was with his will. And everything he did was that way. He bought the Jazz, he found a way. When he built the arena, he found a way. When he built Jordan Commons, he just found a way to do it. There was opposition along the way but he just had that will to do what he wanted to do. When you get an illness like diabetes, you cannot will it away.”
More than 10 years after he was first diagnosed with diabetes, Larry H. Miller had a heart attack. After his heart attack, his kidneys started to fail. Doctors also had to amputate both of his legs below the knee. The disease was slowly taking his life. “I watched a lot and I will tell you if there is any disease you don’t want to get, or you don’t want to let go, it is diabetes,” said Gail. “Because the things it does to you are so terrible. In Larry’s case, he deteriorated a little over time and then a lot over time, until there was nothing more he can do.”
On February 20, 2009, Larry H. Miller died from complications of diabetes. Gail says he could have lived another 20 years, had he taken control of the disease. “I look at what he went through and I think, ‘I don’t know very many people who could have gone through what he did for as long as he did.’ He had this will and it was incredible.”
Gail hopes by sharing Larry’s story that it will hit home an important message about the silent killer that she says stole her husband. She is also working with the Utah Department of Health for its Diabetes Prevention & Control program.
According to the Utah Department of Health, diabetes affects more than 130,000 Utahns. Many people don’t know they have diabetes and that is why it is important you get tested. For more information, visit: http://health.utah.gov/diabetes/
You can also call (888) 222-2542.
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)