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Wisconsin Military Academy Refunds Donation Made By Senior With Dementia

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Weeks after the Morning Insiders reported on Lisle man's effort to get a Wisconsin military academy to refund a donation made by his elderly father with dementia, St. John's Northwestern Military Academy has agreed to return all of the money.

Last month, George Hillier told CBS 2's Tim McNicholas his dad had donated thousands to St. John's, where he used to work.

At the time, George said he suspected his father's health was slipping but he didn't know he had dementia.

"He said, 'Well son,' and there was a pause," Hillier said. "He said, 'Son, that's easy to do when you have $63 million in the bank."

He says his dad doesn't have anywhere near $63 million.

"I laughed and I thought he was kidding me," Hillier said. "But then very shortly, I realized that he was dead serious."

That's when Hillier started to look further into his dad's health and learned from a family doctor that his dad has dementia.

He started to grow more concerned with his dad's finances. Turns out, his dad donated at least $16,000 to the school over the course of several months.

George said, due to his dementia, his father needs financial oversight. He believes his dad may have intended to give a couple thousand, but as for the rest?

"They should return to us so I could use for their care," he said at the time.

But getting a refund from St. John's wasn't simple. Emails show a back and forth between George's lawyers and the school's lawyers, regarding medical and legal documents.

In April of this year, Hillier's lawyer sent a letter from a doctor saying his dad has dementia and "requires oversight for financial matters."

But the school's lawyer said for a refund, they'd need more documentation. A school spokesperson said they're "still considering" the family's request.

"I'm hoping they'll see this story and think 'wow, were making a big mistake here with the Hilliers,'" George said.

He moved his parents to a memory care facility earlier this year.

"They've had a great life together," he said.

In August, St. John's said once they get the additional documents they've requested, they can move toward a resolution. They say George Hillier's parents are both beloved by their academy, and they want to make sure all the right steps are completed.

On Thursday, George informed CBS 2 that St. John's had agreed to return 100% of the money his father had donated.

"People do have empathy for people that are going through a lot taking care of their aging parents," Hillier wrote in an email.


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