Winnetka Animal Hospital doctor know as ‘Dr. Kurt’ was beloved in the community
Dr. Kurt Miller was a man for all the right reasons.
Last Tuesday, we got to count all the ways he was.
A champion of companion animals, Dr. Miller, 56, a much loved North Shore veterinarian with a pachyderm-sized clientele, died suddenly at his home Tuesday.
Although he had recovered from COVID-19 late last year, his sudden death was a stunner.
Well-known and loved in the community, the man known as “Dr. Kurt” was a maestro in the magisterium of dogs and cats wiggling their way through his office since setting up his own shop, the Winnetka Animal Hospital, in 2007.
“I’m still crying,” said Marilyn Wirtz, wife of Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz, whose late Beagles Bernie and Queenie pose next to the Stanley Cup in a wall portrait in Dr. Miller’s office.
“He was so special,” she said. “He knew we suffered if our pets suffered. He took care of us as well as our pets.”
Truth be told, Dr. Miller also tended to my golden retrievers Marley, Querencia, Zeb, Pip and Tutu along with cats Minou II, the “Terrible Tess,” and Calvin the magnificent mouser.
“In the category of a wonderful life, he checked all the boxes,” said Francee Nachbar, an office staffer and friend for 25 years.
“When Kurt was a young vet just starting out, he once drove a sick Boxer five hours to a teaching hospital in Missouri where a doctor was capable of doing a rare procedure, stayed for three days, and drove the client back without charging a dime for his help.”
As a client, there was always an available Tootsie Roll Pop to tide you through an office visit; as a patient there was always a dog treat exit.
And if you wanted a little adventure while waiting in his office, Zola the Ball Python could be viewed nesting in a large box off a back office wall — an act of adoption kindness when the young son of a client died.
“Kurt was a diagnostician whose practice was all about compassion and respect for companion animals and their important role in people’s lives,” said his wife, Julie, whose home was shared with “Blue” the Labrador, “Hazie” the new Great Dane Christmas puppy, and the PAWS Chicago rescue cat named “Anabelle,” a special needs kitty.
“Kurt, who had been considering becoming a doctor, opted to become a veterinarian after receiving a grant to work in Liberia, West Africa, on river blindness and where he helped with the release of chimpanzees used to develop Hepatitis C vaccine,” said his wife.
“He wanted them returned to the wild instead of being used for new AIDS experimentation.”
The couple, parents of son Nolan, 26, who recently got engaged — and daughter Grace, 21, who is soon to graduate from college, recently celebrated their 29th wedding anniversary.
“Dr. Miller was genuine,” said Dr. Bruce Kramer, a member of Miller’s medical staff.
Tech vet Kayla West noted the special, private room in Miller’s office complex designed to ease the delivery of difficult news,” she said.
“While hiring me, he offered inducements like the office’s ice cream socials Wednesdays and pizza day Fridays. He also loved to cook and loved to feed us.”
“When he had to close the office for 10 days last December because of COVID, he told us not to worry because we would be paid no matter what,” she added.
“It was his way of doing things.”
Thanks for doing things your way, Kurt.
March Madness . . .
. . . mayhem style!
In 2018, Loyola University’s beloved 101-year-old chaplain Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt spun March Madness magic cheering the Ramblers men’s basketball team into their historic Final Four run.
This year, it’s 15-year-old Riverside native Sam Tomas calling what could become the March Madness sure shot!
- Translation: Tomas’ 2021 NCAA Men’s Tournament bracket is currently ranked #3 worldwide in the ESPN Men’s Tournament Challenge.
- To wit: This puts the basketball-loving teen in the top 99.9999998 percentile.
- Timeout: There are seven other people in the same slot tied for third place with Tomas.
- The twist: A life-long Michigan State University Spartans fan, Tomas’ bracket is dubbed “MSU Underdog.”
- The kicker: Once the UCLA Bruins made an improbable run to this year’s Final Four by beating Tomas’ beloved Spartans, his impressive bracket secured its #3 spot.
“The reaction has been crazy,” Tomas explained.
“I planned on Michigan State going to the Final Four, but once UCLA beat them, I just stuck with UCLA. I guess that was a good idea.”
Sneedlings . . .
Saturday birthdays: Eddie Murphy, 60; Alec Baldwin, 63; and Paris Jackson, 23. . . . Sunday birthdays: Robert Downey Jr., 56; Jill Scott, 49; and David Blaine, 48.