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Edmonds woman leaves gift of millions

The first grants from the new Hazel Miller Foundation could be awarded to local nonprofits this year.

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By Oscar Halpert
Herald Writer
  • Hazel and Morris Miller

    Hazel and Morris Miller

EDMONDS — When she died last year at the age of 93, Hazel Miller left behind a gift she hoped would help not only the city she called home for nearly 40 years but south Snohomish County in general.
That gift is the new, nonprofit Hazel Miller Foundation with a $12 million endowment. Its mission: to fund programs and projects that benefit education, fight poverty and hunger, support civic and community services, arts and culture, and the environment.
Miller was the closest link to a legacy that began with an early 20th century Seattle bedding supply company called the Seattle Quilt Co.
The foundation’s sole purpose will be to provide grants to nonprofit organizations, said Maria Montalvo, chairwoman of the organization’s seven-member board of trustees.
“Hazel set up the foundation with a trust that will, hopefully, earn enough in perpetuity to provide dollars for years to come,” she said.
Initial funding applications will be accepted this month, Montalvo said.
Grants of between $50,000 and $100,000 likely will be available this year. Next year, additional funds will be allocated.
“It’s going to generate about $500,000 a year for us to give away to the city of Edmonds and south Snohomish County,” said Dick Ellis, board member and longtime friend of both Hazel Miller and her late husband, Morris.
Montalvo calls Ellis the person the board looks to as “the keeper of Hazel’s legacy.”
“We want to make sure this does as she intended,” Montalvo said. “He knew what was important to her.”
Hazel and Morris Miller ran the Seattle Quilt Co., a Seattle bedding supply store that was itself an offshoot of Miller’s Dry Goods, which opened in downtown Seattle in 1915. The Seattle Quilt Building still stands at 310 First Ave. S.
They sold the business and moved to Edmonds in the early 1970s, Ellis said.
The Millers’ story was highlighted as part of a 2009 exhibit titled “Who’s Minding the Store: Celebrating 150 years of Jewish Business and Commerce,” created by the Washington State Jewish Historical Society.
As part of her directive for the trust, Hazel Miller wanted the mayor of Edmonds to select board members.
Last year, Mayor Gary Haakenson named the seven to serve on the board, including Montalvo, Ellis and Edmonds lawyer Leigh Bennett. Other board members include Diana White, Pat Shields, Jack Loos and Renee McRae.
“We’re definitely cognizant of those needs that Edmonds has and that we have present in our community,” Montalvo said.
Learn more
Hazel Miller Foundation: 1000 Second Ave., 34th floor, Seattle, WA 98104-1022
To contact: 206-667-0300;
On the Web:
Oscar Halpert: 425-339-3429,
Story tags » EdmondsCharity

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