A Love Story—Right to the End—Leads to an Important Gift

Together for 43 years, Phyllis and Gary Hilscher shared a rare love story that even Alzheimer’s disease could not diminish. “He was the love of my life,” Phyllis says. “Gary meant everything to me. It was a love story—right to the end. And through it all, I never left his side.”

Originally from Michigan, the couple built a home in Surprise, Arizona, in 1998 after visiting a relative in Sun City two years earlier. Gary had retired after a long and respected career in the building industry, while Phyllis continued working in finance. In fact, she worked part time, from home, until 2018—retiring at the age of 85.

About eight years ago, Gary started noticing symptoms that eventually came to be diagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease, which both of his parents also had. Receiving care from Banner Sun Health Research Institute (BSHRI), he was enrolled in a clinical trial that Phyllis believes to have contributed to a greater quality of life. “He was a very good patient,” she says. “Gary actually knew what was happening with his brain. But it was like he was lost in his own house.” He would also visit Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix annually for testing.

In 2017, sadly, Gary passed away with Phyllis holding his hand. His last words, she says, were “thank you” to the nurses at Banner Del Webb Medical Center who had cared for him at the end.

“I was so impressed by Banner Health, and realized there isn’t a better place, anywhere, to give a gift than Banner,” Phyllis explains. “Along this journey, I could see why research is so important, why more is needed. So I just had to do something.”

That “something” will become a planned gift to BSHRI, specifically designated for Alzheimer’s research, after the eventual sale of the Hilscher’s home.

“I loved my home. I loved my husband. It was a beautiful life together,” Phyllis says. “At the end, we just made the best of it.”

Has Banner Health been an important part of your life, too? You can ensure our future with a gift in your estate plan. Contact Kristie Leshinskie, MPH, CAP® at 480-215-7433 or kristie.leshinskie@bannerhealth.comto learn more today.