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Friends for Life

May Eynon

In an extraordinary display of community support, a benefit was held in David Miller’s honor at the Hotel Jerome last Friday night.

Miller was recently diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in its late stages and was unable to attend. He and his family have moved to Houston, where he is undergoing treatment for the next eight months at the MD Cancer Center.

A longtime local, David is perhaps best known as a co-owner of the former Legends of Aspen bar. He now works as a general contractor and designer. His wife, Elizabeth, is the director of youth services for the Buddy Program. They have two young daughters, Molly and MacKenzie.

In an effort to assist with overwhelming medical bills not covered by the Miller’s insurance, a dozen friends from around the valley planned the benefit. Funds were raised from the $25-per-person donation and a silent and live auction, as well as through the sale of collectors’ items like baseball hats and beer mugs.

The silent auction featured everything from Rockies baseball tickets to golf lessons to “8 hours with a handyman” to plastic surgery to a dozen bagels each month for a year.

Most impressive were items in the live auction, including an event at Elk Mountain Lodge, a trip aboard a Holland Cruise Line, a vacation in the Turks and Caicos, and a Lance Armstrong-signed jersey.

Local bartenders lined up to work the “Legends Bar” in the back corner of the ballroom, complete with the sign that once hung in front of the establishment on Main Street.

“The bartenders here are faster than `Millsy’ ever was at Legends [now Conundrum],” joked longtime friend Jeff Novogratz.

Joanne Batten, who looks after the Miller children, worked the martini bar on the opposite side of the ballroom. “I devised and launched Harry’s Velvet Lounge (now Genre Bistro) so I know how to make a martini,” she proclaimed.

Todd Patrick and Paul Teft of Enviroactive Productions spent the evening filming the party to create a video for the Millers, whose absence was dearly noted.

Friends remembered “Millsy” from his rising career in the service industry, before he became a general contractor.

“He worked for me years ago back in Burlington, Vermont, at my bar called The Outback,” said Shannon Sweeney. “He was our first doorman.”

“When I moved to town, I worked at Andre’s (now Prada) with him so I’ve known him for about 14 years, I guess,” said Lisa McGuire. “Now our kids are the same age so I still see him frequently.”

“I gave him the first driver position at the Aspen Club Lodge (now the Sky Hotel),” said former transportation director Bobby Mac. “He quit to start Legends, so I let him go.”

David Meeker, owner of Specialized Protective Services, donated a staff of four security employees for the party. “I’ve known Dave for several years through playing rugby and I wanted to help out tonight.”

“It’s amazing how one person can bring so many people together,” noted Mark Campisi, a longtime friend of the Millers.

“I’d guess there were 1,000 people here tonight,” said Cathy Grueter, a friend and colleague of Elizabeth Miller at the Buddy Program, who volunteered her time as a coat checker.

“I’m blown away by how many people turned out,” Kristin MacDermott. “They [David and Elizabeth] will be so touched when they hear about this evening.”

“I think it’s a testament to how organized it was,” said Hans Brucker, whose wife, Corin, was a chief planner for the event. “It’s really been a success.”

For those who would like to donate to the David Miller fund, checks can made out to The Snowmass Chapel and sent c/o Mesa Bank, 317 East Hopkins Ave., Aspen, CO 81611.


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