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Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

Couple donates farmland to advance rehabilitation

April 24, 2017

Fred and Betty Miller transferred ownership of their farm to Madonna through a retained life estate, but will continue living there throughout their lifetimes.

The Support

Fred and Betty Miller know how to make a guest feel right at home on their Butler County Nebraska farm. Warm hospitality and a history of days gone by paint a welcoming picture of the place the Millers have called home for most of their 65 years of marriage. Fred’s stories extend back to the early 1800s when his family first bought the homestead. In fact, he was born in 1927 in the very house he and Betty share today. “Oh, if these walls could talk,” Fred says.

The saying, “home is where the heart is,” rings especially true when it comes to the Millers. With generous hearts, Fred and Betty have chosen to donate their 203-acre farm to Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals to help children and adults recovering from illness and injury. By transferring ownership of their farm to Madonna through a retained life estate, the Millers can continue living there throughout their lifetimes.

After years of farming, Fred developed a dust allergy to soybeans, so he hired out the farming of his land to Greg Fiala. That was the beginning of the Millers’ Madonna connection.

Greg shared with Fred and Betty the story of his daughter’s recovery at Madonna after enduring a traumatic brain injury in a devastating car accident in 2004. Today, Greg’s daughter, Meghan, is married with two children and works as a physical therapy assistant in Columbus, Nebraska.

Fred gets choked up when he thinks about how far Meghan has come and how their gift will help others like her. Through the Fred C. and Betty W. Miller Research Institute on Madonna’s Omaha Campus, researchers and therapists will continue to bring innovative treatments to patients like Meghan.

This couple’s gift to Madonna started on the dance floor some six decades ago at a big band dance in David City, Nebraska. There is some disagreement as to who asked whom to dance first but Fred claims that Betty “grabbed a hold of me and just never let go.”

A few months after their January 1952 wedding, Fred left for basic training at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The Korean War kept him stateside so Betty joined him in North Carolina for a year and then on to Camp Pendleton near San Diego, California. After two years in the Marines, Fred discharged and the couple decided to stay in California, making Escondido their home. Fred worked for an avocado company and Betty worked at a bakery.

“I probably only made about a $1 an hour but I felt like a millionaire,” Betty recalls.

Back in Nebraska, Fred’s mother encouraged the couple to return home. In 1956, the Millers moved back to the farmstead. Fred farmed and raised cattle and Betty worked in David City at St. Joseph’s Villa nursing home for 27 years and St. Mary’s school for 14 years. The New Idea farm implement company recruited Fred as a dealer and he opened up a shop right in his own backyard.

Today, Fred continues to tinker in his tool shop, which originally served as the headquarters for his farm implement dealership. While Betty enjoys antique furniture and decor, classic cars are Fred’s passion. He has impeccably restored and rebuilt almost a dozen of them over the years.

The Millers hope that sharing the story of their farm donation will inspire others to consider a gift. It seems fitting that a couple who could coax so much life out of the Nebraska soil would generously donate that farmland to Madonna—a place known for taking a life broken by injury and illness and rebuilding it.

Cindy Shea uses the Ekso GT to regain her step after suffering a stroke in March. This type of specialized  technology along with her team of physical therapists Drew Burggraff and Cali Carlson and Jennifer Bausch, rehabilitation associate therapy assist, have expertise and longevity in rehabilitation care.

Maximizing your gift to Madonna

For many people, their personal residence or farm is their most valuable asset. Through a special charitable giving option, you can donate your residence or farm to Madonna and still live there for the rest of your life. It is called a retained life estate gift and involves transferring the ownership of a home or farm to a charity, like Madonna, while retaining the lifetime use of the property.

A few benefits of a retained life estate gift include:

  • Claim a Tax Deduction: You will receive a tax deduction for the year in which you make the gift, while the real estate is removed from your taxable estate after you pass away.
  • Continue Use of Property: You can continue to live in your home or farm your land for your lifetime. As the life tenant, you will pay applicable taxes, insurance and ordinary maintenance costs as you always have.
  • A Larger Gift than You Thought Possible: Many people never thought that they would be able to make such a large gift to a charity. A retained life estate gift makes that possible. Through this living giving option, you have the satisfaction of making a significant gift to support a program or area at Madonna that is meaningful to you. You can see the impact your gift has on the charity you love.

To learn more about making a retained life estate gift, please contact your personal attorney or accountant. For more information about how such a gift could benefit Madonna, please contact Suzanne Sughroue, director of development-Lincoln Campus at 402.413.4782 or John C. Glenn, vice president of development-Omaha Campus.