Family members of the late Larry H. Miller fought back tears Monday while describing the life and legacy of the Utah businessman, who died in 2009 of complications from Type II diabetes.

Gail Miller, owner of the Larry H. Miller Group of companies, said Larry H. Miller loved to serve other people. And one of the most important things her family can be involved in, she said, is helping to fight the disease that took her late husband’s life.

"It isn’t a solitary event that one person goes through,” Gail Miller said. “It affects everyone who is involved with that person.”

Gail Miller’s comments came during an event at the University of Utah Hospital, during which she announced a $5.3 million donation to U. Health from the Larry H. and Gail Miller Family Foundation.

The donation will fund the “Driving Out Diabetes” initiative, according to the university, which will take a multifaceted approach to treating and preventing the disease.

“We are about to engage in a remarkable journey that will take diabetes head-on,” said Lorris Betz, the U.’s interim senior vice president for Health Sciences.

Betz said the Miller Family’s donation coincides with this week’s World Diabetes Day, a global awareness campaign recognized on Nov. 14.

He said diabetes cases are on the rise in Utah and the United States, describing the disease as a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, limb amputations, heart disease and stroke.

“Defeating diabetes is truly one of the most concerning health challenges of our time,” he said.

Angie Fagerlin, chairwoman of the Department of Population Health Sciences, was named director of the initiative.

She said “Driving Out Diabetes” will combine innovative clinical care with a public outreach campaign to promote healthy lifestyle choices and identify persons at high risk for diabetes-related complications.

“We all know the best thing we can do is keep people from getting diabetes in the first place,” she said.