A few months ago, Dale Millard was helping rebuild his older brother's deck north of Duvall when he crashed through the rotten wood. The 25-year-old was recuperating with a bloody...

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A few months ago, Dale Millard was helping rebuild his older brother’s deck north of Duvall when he crashed through the rotten wood.

The 25-year-old was recuperating with a bloody leg when his brother playfully teased him about getting back to work. He did, and the two young men worked on the project until after midnight.

“He was the guy who could do anything,” said his brother, Robert Millard, 30.

The two brothers also were together Christmas Eve, duck hunting on Robert Millard’s property. Dale Millard didn’t hunt, but he and his wife were visiting from Utah, and the two men wanted to spend time together.

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But as they walked back to the house, in the 28400 block of Northeast Cherry Valley Road, Robert stumbled in the rugged, swampy field. He stepped into a creek and dropped his shotgun. As he picked up the gun, it went off, hitting Dale Millard in the neck and killing him.

“These brothers were best of friends, and it appears to just be a tragic accident,” said King County sheriff’s Deputy Travis DeFries.

Yesterday, as Robert Millard dealt with the loss, he said his younger brother’s final act was befitting the generous man he was. “He was reaching over to pull me out,” Robert Millard said. “That’s what he did.”

Dale Millard was the fourth of six siblings, a man who used his 6-foot-4, 230-pound frame only for the best, his brother said. He had taught Sunday school with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Olympia and Tacoma areas.

He was born April 17, 1979, in Chico, Calif., and moved to Olympia with his family in 1992. He lived in Tacoma for a year or two before moving to Draper, Utah, about five months ago, his brother said.

Millard married his wife, Lisa, in September 2003 after meeting her at a church volleyball game in the Tacoma area, his brother said.

He had just started a construction job in Utah and was taking classes to become an architect. While he designed a dream home for himself and his wife, he focused his energies on the young marriage, picking flowers on the side of the road for his wife or dancing with her in the kitchen to their favorite songs, his brother said.

Millard had a fun nature. He loved rock climbing, camping and fishing, and as he grew older, his siblings wisely cut back on family ribbing.

“He got quite a bit (of teasing) until he ended up being bigger than me,” his brother said. “At which point, I eased off a bit.”

In addition to his wife and older brother, Millard is survived by his mother and stepfather, Linda and Ivan Phillips of Kent; four sisters, Diana Lovendino of Olympia, Debi Chadwick of Sumner, Kelly Cornwall of Pullman and Elizabeth West of Biloxi, Miss.; grandparents Jim and Beulah Astle of Winchester, Va., and Boyd Millard and Shirley Albers of Chico, Calif.; and several nieces and nephews. Memorial arrangements had not yet been made.

Ashley Bach: 206-464-2567 or abach@seattletimes.com