Minerva and Octavia Miller College Fund

Contributions made will form a college fund for Minerva and Octavia Miller. Walter was so proud of his girls - always supportive of their dreams for college someday - and always supportive of their interests - Octavia always singing and performing and wanting to go into theatre and Minerva always carrying around her sketch book - wanting to purse a career in art.

Words from Walter's wife.

I am very sorry to share that Walter - Wally Miller has passed away...

For the past year as I took care of Wally - a memory from years ago kept coming back to me...

Years ago when I was working in the archives at work I opened a box of items from a faculty member who was a well known photographer. The box contained yearly calendars which had the usual things jotted in a calendar for a photographer - places he went to take photos, the weather, inspirational quotes and then there were the numbers - just numbers that started appearing jotted in the calendars... After a name finally appeared with one of the numbers I realized it was the husband keeping track of his wife's weight as it decreased and I was overcome with great saddness and I still am when I think about how he was by his wife's side for so many months as she declined in health. I never thought I would be that spouse - meticulously keeping track of my husband's weight and learning all I could about his cancer to care for him the best I could...

Late last year little did we know that Walter's cancer journey had already begun. In the fall of 2018 Wally started to have abdominal pains and unfortunately the pains were a sign of cancer that was not discovered even though he tried to figure out what was going on for months - we did not discover the truth of things until after another sign of cancer developed - blood clots and then the abdominal pain became severe... and we went to the ER in late January. Within minutes of being admitted a scan was done and what was missed for many - many months was discovered and we were immediately told the news... We both struggled so much with the disappointment that his cancer was not diagnosed earlier at stage 1 or 2 or even 3... Hearing that you have cancer and that it is already at stage 4 is overwhelming. Walter's cancer diagnosis brought back memories of my sister's cancer diagnosis and how she had such great care from family and friends and friends who were nurses...

Without any close family members living nearby and Walter's wish to be taken care of privately by family with no outside nursing help - I went on a leave from work to be the sole caregiver for Walter 24/7. Other than the times he was in the hospital and a brief stay at a rehab center/nursing home - Walter was able to be home as he wished - that's all he wanted was to be at home - with the girls coming and going back and forth to school - keeping some sort of semblance to each day, with home cooked food and his own bed to nap in... Although home was not our actual home due to our house fire a few years ago - our rental home is on a quiet street surrounded by trees up on a hill and it gave Walter the peace and quiet he needed for the past year. Everyday was a struggle in a different way - in the early days of his diagnosis we struggled with chemo and the side effects, we struggled with just physically getting Walter to and from doctor appointments and then there were mental struggles of knowing he would not be here to see the girls grow up and then there were struggles of accepting what was happening as he lost the weight and lost his hair and then needed to use a walker and wheelchair. Walter always prided himself in his appearance. I can't even keep count of all of the times we opened our home to organizations for fundraisers and events and Walter always wore a full suit and loved to speak to everyone and engage everyone...he was a people person...

The last year was extremely difficult - watching Walter change from the outgoing person he was to the person cancer changed him to - but as I said early on in his diagnosis to close friends - it was meant to be that I be here to take care of him and be by his side - he had no one else to care for him... It was rewarding in many ways as we reminisced quite a bit about the eccentric life he had led and the almost 20 years we had together and it was challenging and exhausting at times as his physical and mental capacity diminished and it was disappointing many times as I stood by as he made poor decisions but I still kept to my vows and his wishes for me to care for him and took it day by day - sometimes hour by hour - many in the wee hours of the morning...making sure he was well cared for and comfortable.

Walter was at home until this week when I whispered in his ear that I could no longer care for him at home...that he needed to go to the hospital... He on his own told me to call 911 and that he was ready...from the hospital we went to Francis House and although he initially knew he was at Francis House - it felt so much like home he asked when the kids would be home from school one day...I thought I would have more time with him to say goodbye but for the past year the girls and I have slowly been saying goodbye...

My time as a caregiver is not over though - I now need to find a new normal for the girls and get back to being a caretaker to them. They were here throughout Walter's entire cancer journey - from the month we initially spent in the hospital - they were by Walter's side - to being awoken at all hours of the day/night - to watching me care for Walter and not being able to care for them - to watching their father slowly lose the ability to be a father...I don't know how they've managed to go to school each day and function each day - having had so many sleepless nights and with so much on their minds...

Just like when my sister passed away - I am a peace knowing that Walter is no longer suffering day and night as he was... I still think of my sister everyday and she passed away 15 years ago...and everyday from now on I will continue to keep Walter in my thoughts...

Walter will be laid to rest exactly where he wished to be - next to his father Mel in Syracuse in a private burial. A memorial service will be held in the spring as Walter wished to have those in attendance drive all their antique cars and have a car show in his memory and spend a day sharing memories.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Minerva and Octavia Miller College Fund.


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Jane Verostek 
Fayetteville, NY
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