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Sunday, January 6, 2013

RIP Dar Miller

Darlene "Dar" Miller passed away four years ago today. Here is the original article in the Anchorage Daily News.

WASILLA -- Darlene "Dar" Miller's death in a house fire last week staggered coworkers all too familiar with death, loss and grief.

Miller spent the last eight years as a nurse with Mat-Su Regional Homecare and Hospice, an organization that provides in-home care for terminally ill patients and support for their families.

Her peers are finding there's no coping mechanism to ease the shock of such a sudden, traumatic loss.

"We're experts in grief and the dying process, but it's different when it's one of your own," said Barbara Mistler, the center's director. "Who takes care of the caregivers?"

Firefighters found the 54-year-old Miller unconscious and badly burned, but still alive in her Wasilla home Jan. 5. Though a cause has yet to be established, the long-smoldering fire apparently started near a bed on the first floor, burning so hot it charred beams and melted pictures on the wall. Miller's two dogs died next to her.

She was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for burn treatment, but she died the next day.

Miller shared the home with partner Michaele Hannam. She was not available for comment.

Mistler told staffers about Miller's death the afternoon of Jan. 6. A mental health counselor conducted two debriefing sessions. The director tried to lighten workloads where she could, to give stunned employees a break.

"We deal with death every day. But when it's somebody close, it's like all these deaths... you tuck away a little of the hurt," said Judy Hayes, a hospice nurse who considered Miller her mentor. "When it's somebody you know, it all comes out. The emotions aren't just for Dar. It's a bigger hurt, a bigger loss."

Miller's desk at the center's Bogard Road office remains as she left it: a tidy memorial with a picture of her dogs -- spunky cattle dogs called heelers, one young, one old.

A common thread emerged about Miller's personal side during a visit Monday to her office.

She was a rugged Canadian woman who wore mukluks and a leather coat in winter and had a thing for pickup trucks. She loved escaping to her Trapper Creek cabin with Hannam. She possessed a dry sense of humor, amazing penmanship and a propensity for goofy sayings like "God love a duck."

She combined a knack for listening without judging and a total lack of phoniness, said Vicki Turtle, a home health aide and information technician with 23 years at Mat-Su home care and hospice.

Miller started out as a neo-natal nurse practitioner but wearied of watching babies die, coworkers said. Starting with the Mat-Su organization in 2001, Miller took on the role of mentor. She was one of four hospice nurses and worked as a case manager.

Turtle remembered hearing Miller telling new nurses, "We cannot resolve everybody's problems. We're here to make them comfortable and get them to the next place."

Longtime home health aide Ahna Simonds leaned on Miller in tough situations -- patients with problems that made dressing changes painful or clients as young as 10.

"Dealing with younger patients, it's really hard to go into a home," Simonds said. "You've got to be able to talk with somebody, or just cry together and be angry."

Miller's loss also sends ripples through the lives of an unknown number of patients and their families in homes and assisted-care facilities throughout the Mat-Su.

Last year, 120 hospice patients died. Miller knew them all, Hayes said, as well as those from years past.

One was Mary Hann, who died in October at the age of 84.

Miller was Hann's primary hospice nurse over a remarkable two-year period; patients don't qualify for hospice until they're given less than six months to live, but Hann died slowly, a little at a time, as the arteries of her brain hardened, her daughter said.

Miller showed empathy and compassion even as Hann "pretended she could function better than she could," said daughter Melinda Glass. Hannam, a hospice volunteer, would take Hann on trips to get books, get out of the house.

Glass was glad her mother died before she had to hear the news of Miller's death, she said. "I would not have told her. It would have destroyed her."

Miller had 12 patients when she died, said Hayes, the other hospice case manager at the office. She spent last week sharing the sad news over and over again, patient by patient.

Mistler said she plans to post a photo of Miller in the hospice room as a remembrance. Some employees are still so stricken by her death they can't talk about it.

Some say she'd be telling them to buck up.

"I can just hear her," Turtle said. " 'Don't fuss over me. Have a party. Move on.' "


  1. Such a tragic loss. What's mystifying is that the cause of the fire isn't even mentioned. Also her dogs would have alerted her to danger and they died as well.

    1. This whole story is so fishy..BIG COVER UP!! Those 2 dogs would not have died without creating a lot of barking and noise to wake her up unless they were drugged or something.

    2. ALL deaths are tragic. People need to leave STRANGERS alone and stop dragging them into your f**ked up shenanigans and ignorant opinions. What you write and say and the ignorance within your statements have the potential to hurt innocent people. Heaven help no one ever sees them or sane people take you seriously. Anonymous liars rot in hell.

    3. Katie McQueen AKA PALIN TROLL, the TRUTH sure does get your Panties in a Wad. How many different Monikers are you going to use on one Blog? PIMP DADDY Todd Palin has hurt many struggling Mothers, but you and your Troll compadres will not touch that. Pimping is the Nastiest crime against families
      and children. Direct your animosity towards the 1ST PIMP of Wasilla.

    4. @11:17
      Well said.
      What say you, Dope On A Rope, about Pimp Daddy Todd? Interesting that you ignore that unholy abyss of the Palins.

  2. For what it's worth, here's an old comment I copied and saved from
    Shitfire anon

    "I can state with certainty that Dar Miller, the sweet and lovely woman who perished in a suspicious house fire in 2008 was ASKED to assist in caring for Trig. I do not know whether she ever considered or accepted the job. I cannot stand to think that her death was the result of a purposeful act. However, I find it extremely suspicious that any attempt to access records or evidence of the house fire (which should be public record if the case was ruled accidental death and closed) are met with what I can only describe as inappropriately aggressive stonewalling.

    I can state with absolute certainty that virtually the only thing completely destroyed beyond repair in the arson fire at the church was several file cabinets filled with files related to births, adoptions, and foster care placements. Considering these were metal file cabinets, the arsonist must have opened the drawers and poured or placed an accelerant IN them."

    1. Copy and pasting anonymous comments does NOTHING for anyone. LEAVE THESE PEOPLE ALONE. YOU KNOW NO ONE IN ALASKA. Why are you stalking people you don't know and assuming things you have no right to make judgments on? It's not rocket science. You're all creepy with the inane theories, faulty logic and baseless allegations. Alaska alone is a tragic place. It's the state with the highest rate of plane crashes and weather casualties for obvious reasons. Only the truly tough survive there and know how to prosper. What, are you jealous there are 17 yr olds more successful, with more money than the average 35 year old?

      OY to the VEY, people are ignorant. There needs to be a test to weed out the truly moronic when it comes to creating a blog.

    2. 10:26 AM You Palin TROLLS hate it when the subject matter involves the Criminal Palin Family. PIMPS are making a lot of money in Alaska, as Todd Palin has. Why don't you Palin TROLLS ever address the Sex Trafficking in Alaska? Is it because you were told to remain Silent about that subject?
      The Authorities are closing in, and the Palins are SQUIRMING.

    3. @10:26
      How do you know whether or not @7:19 knows anyone in Alaska? Sounds like the person is FROM Alaska. Your aggressive and bitter response leaves more questions than answers. Why have you made this so deeply personal to yourself? Things that make us go, "Hmmmmm. Interesting."

    4. "OY to the VEY?"

      Wow...just, wow.

    5. Troll,

      I think you missed the whole point of this post. It's not about the Palins. It is about Dar Miller, a talented, dedicated professional woman, who was tragically killed in a very suspicious fire in her home. Why don't you think it would be a good idea to investigate the irregularities related to the death of a fine citizen of Alaska? Ms. Miller was a woman who spent her professional life caring for individuals in their times of greatest need...but maybe that's something you already knew about her.

      Nobody is stalking you, nobody is jealous of you, and none of us care to know you.

    6. @10:26
      "There needs to be a test to weed out the truly moronic when it comes to creating a blog."

      I agree, and then YOU would be in the weeds where you belong along with the other salamanders, snakes, and pond scum.

  3. Dar used to say " God love a duck"..didn't Bristol say something about having to take care of a baby or little duck or something like that.

    1. She said now I'm a mother to that duck...aboutwhom we don't know.

  4. It's been five years. Seems like it's time to re-open this cold case file and she gets her justice. It's just too fishy as most of us knew what was going on at the time. Hospice nurses don't burn alive in fires. They just burn out and go back to what they used to do for some respite!

    1. Is there a way to get someone to look at the evidence from this case, in order to get an investigation into Ms. Miller's death?

      Just thinking about her tragic death almost makes me physically ill. But even though it makes me very sad, I think it is important to remember what happened to her. Thanks, SPHASH.

  5. And the fire started next to a bed... long smoldering, but so hot it charred timbers... and the dogs didn't wake up... somehow those three factoids don't mesh up to me.

    I suppose...was there a baseboard heater? that might have done it. Although if the room isn't used I imagine a baseboard heater would have been on Low, which means a smouldering fire might have started, but if it DID smoulder, then the dogs would have smelled it and gotten upset. Maybe there was a clock-radio plugged in, or a lamp (that would have been turned off)- I just can't visualize how this fire happened, not that I'm any expert.

    1. According to the Mat-Su Fire Chief the fire was started by a smoldering cigarette which is fucking absurd. First of all Dar didn't smoke and secondly, it's a state law that only "no burn" cigarettes can be sold up here. These are specifically designed to put themselves out when left in an ashtray.

      So I guess we're supposed to believe that at the age of 54, this outdoors woman, a nurse who worked around oxygen tanks took up smoking cigarettes and purchased them from the lower
      48 somewhere. We will never know the true details because Mat-Su abolutely refuses to release the records. I know because I have tried repeatedly to get copies of them. That's what happens when Palin ass kisser extraordinaire Talis Colberg is Mayor of the Borough. The same Talis Colberg that told the Palins just to ignore the legislative subpoenas during Troopergate and them promptly resigned his position.

    2. I wonder why Dar's partner never makes any statements. She must be afraid i guess.
      For the dos to be found dead next to her is suspicious. They had to have been drugged. Even if Dar was drunk or impaired in some way (not saying she was, just thinknig of a reason for her to not react to a fire, the dogs would have tried to escape after trying to wake Dar.

  6. I know we're all people and all deserve to be mourned, but it's considerably creepy when strangers go on and on about someone's death when they've never met and know nothing about (personally) the person. This is mainly for people who sob over celeb deaths, which is weird. But it kind of comes into play with this bizarre post. Tragedy happens. Life is tragic. It's also beautiful. I'm not sure if these people would want strangers to use their deaths as ulterior motives. I would be offended.

    1. You, TROLL, are the Creepy one, don't you have any friends? Are you so lonely that you just TROLL all of the Blogs to complain about any Palin posts? So if you would be offended, don't come here with your S.O.S. DRIVEL. The Fire at Dar Miller's house was very suspect, and all evidence points in the direction of the Palins.

    2. We "go on and on" about suspicious deaths,fires, mostly because of the enept handling by official Alaskan agencies who seem to be bought and paid for by corrupt individuals. All of you proud Alaskan pioneers seem to really be a bunch of chicken shits, especially when you try to justify your own lack of justice-seeking. Sorry if I've offended you.

    3. Oh, so using your crack logic, the world should ignore the kids who died at Sandy hook? You are a fucking moron.

  7. This case needs to be kept open and active out of the respect apparently due Dar Miller. So STFU troll. You're ignorant and narcissistic beyond belief.

  8. Bristol's Real ChinJanuary 6, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    If it's "creepy" to talk about people who have died, how much creepier is it to chastise people who are talking about people who have died?

  9. I really think this troll IS on e of the Palin's or she THINKS she is representing them. Whatever she writes like she's off her meds..remind you of someone? You all sure this Kristy chick is not in the mental ward somewhere? The Palin's have a REAL stalker and she's right under their noses.

  10. Anonymous at 1:27- what's even stranger is that if it DID start with a smouldering cigarette unobtainable in Alaska, why was it in the first floor bedroom when Dar was upstairs? Obviously, upstairs was her bedroom. IF she smoked- and yes, there are nurses who smoke- she'd smoke in her living room in front of the TV. Maybe she'd smoke in bed while reading or whatever. But there's no reason on the Goddess' green earth for her to carry her cigarette into a downstairs bedroom (probably a guestroom) and drop her cigarette behind the bed against a wall. It was January in Alaska. It would be cold and dark. She would probably leave the curtains shut. Again.... behind the bed, in an unused bedroom... why would the fire start with a cigarette there? None of it makes sense, but one thing we consistently hear and have heard out of Alaska for years is that people are frightened by the Palins. Even Audrey said it, years ago- she had friends who were reporters who went to Alaska and what they told her is that people in Wasilla were afraid, the level of fear astonished them.

    Alaska is truly corrupt, and the great tragedy here is that Dar isn't being shown the respect of a proper investigation; her killers are free.

    I am beginning to truly hate Alaska, and I've never even been there. But it is disgraceful that Alaskans are either corrupt or frightened.


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