IRVING — The Donnelly Funeral Home confirms that 83-year-old Dema Miller of Irving died of West Nile virus on Tuesday.
Dallas County health officials have not yet confirmed the death.
Family members say Miller married her sweetheart, William, the day before he shipped out for Germany in World War II. On Tuesday, after a bout with spinal meningitis caused by West Nile, that long love affair came to a painful end.
"I was with her for two weeks — non-stop — and she suffered," said daughter Debbie Steadman. "It's a horrible disease."
Miller’s family said the matriarch was otherwise healthy and active enough to blow the leaves off her lawn every morning.
Now they wonder why Dema Miller has not been added to the West Nile death toll as Dallas County's 12th victim, even though she died two days ago.
The Millers also wonder why Irving opted out of citywide aerial spraying when every surrounding community opted in.
"I think them seeing someone suffer for two weeks like that might do them good," said Greg Miller, the victim's son.
"Our condolences got out to anyone who suffered a loss regarding WNV or any other serious illness, so that is first and foremost," said Chris Hooper, Irving Community Resources Director. "Our program, we think, is very effective. We were spraying months before this even started, so we feel we’ve been very aggressive and on point."
Irving says it did agree to aerial spraying, but only for an aera covering 3,800 acres. The company contracted for the pesticide operation said Irving needed to do a minimum of 5,000 acres.
City officials were unaware of Dema Miller's death until they were alerted by News 8. We also shared all of the information with the Dallas County Health Department, but so far they are still not confirming that Miller's death is linked to West Nile virus.