Knowing When It's Time

For TCDRS member Dalora Ford Miller, deciding to retire and leave her “second family” at the office was hard, but she knew it was time.

By Rebecca L. Bennett


When TCDRS member Dalora Ford Miller first signed on with Harris County in 1993, she expected to find fulfillment serving her community at the Attorney’s Office and later, as a Paralegal in the Sheriff’s Office.

But she didn’t anticipate gaining a second family. “My fellow colleagues are a huge part of my life,” Dalora says. “The camaraderie is like no other… We laugh, cry and share our life stories with one another. We spend more time together than we do our own families.”

Bonding with her law enforcement family was so rewarding, in fact, that Dalora stayed on for more than 27 years before finally making the difficult decision to retire in May 2023.

“I have to be honest — this will be very hard for me,” she says of the upcoming milestone. “However, the ole’ saying is true, ‘You will know when it is time.’”

Intentional preparation factored heavily into Dalora’s gameplan and helped raise her confidence about stepping off the court and into retirement.

Last year, Dalora attended several TCDRS pre-retirement webinars and met with Member Services to go over her benefits and ensure she knew what to expect from the process. She also scheduled an in-person counseling session with a TCDRS representative who will be visiting her employer this month.

“I applaud TCDRS for being so accessible,” she says. “It may be overkill, but I highly recommend doing all of this, as it helped me tremendously. Most of the information you may already know, but it puts your mind at ease when you actually get feedback from the professionals.”

“And sometimes there are things you might not have thought about,” she adds.

In addition to leveraging TCDRS retirement-planning resources, Dalora and her husband, Steve, made a point to pay off as much of their debt as possible to ensure they could live comfortably on Steve’s employment income and Dalora’s TCDRS retirement benefit.

“I firmly believe that if you work hard, plan well and maintain your integrity, it all falls into place,” she says.

With all the official business taken care of, Dalora has shifted her focus to enjoying the time she has left at HCSO and figuring out what she will do next, such as support her youngest son in his final year of high school and visit her oldest son more often at Sam Houston State University.

“I joke with my husband and our sons and ask, ‘Now what? What do I want to be when I grow up?’” she says. “For now, I am thankful and blessed I can retire at 52 years old… we shall see what the next chapter will be!”


Photo courtesy of Dalora Ford Miller


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