Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 6, 2011

By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY — Edgar Miller has reached a milestone some won’t ever see. This week, Miller turned 100.
He celebrated Saturday with more than 100 family, friends and staff at the Hefner VA Medical Center.
Miller, a native of Columbus, Ga., moved to North Carolina about six years ago.
He served in World War II as an Army sergeant commanding a platoon of 52 soldiers during the Normandy invasion.
Miller’s wife, Mary, died in December, they were married for more than 70 years.
Miller’s only son, Sonny, and his wife, Kay, had been planning the event for months.
Many relatives, including Sonny and Kay’s three children — Eddie, Robin and David — were on hand to celebrate, along with six great-grandchildren.
“This is amazing. We are a very close family,” Sonny said.
The majority of the Miller family is from South Carolina, he said, but many relatives traveled from other parts of North Carolina and Georgia.
Miller said he wasn’t surprised by the celebration, but was surprised by how many of his relatives, friends and VA staff attended.
Irene Wong, a nurse practitioner at the VA, who primarily sees Miller, said the centenarian is easygoing and really sweet. He’s also a flirt, she said with a laugh.
“He always has a smile on his face. He has a great sense of humor,” Wong said.
For Miller there is no secret to longevity: “I live a clean life,” he said.
Miller said he prayed that God would allow him to see 100. “Jesus helped me live a clean, Christian life,” he said.
“I’ve got a loving family,” he said.
Miller’s only surviving sister, Willie Mae Michaelowski, 85, stood by her brother’s side throughout the event.
“I’m happy I’m here today. I love my brother,” she said.
There were a total of eight children in their family, Michaelowski said.
“It’s an honor and a privilege for me to be here,” Hefner VA Director Paul Russo said.
Russo spoke about some of Miller’s accomplishments, including being a 33rd Degree Mason. He was a member for 55 years.
“The words that come to mind for Edgar is commitment and devotion — commitment to our country and devotion to his family,” Russo said.
Miller also received one of the oldest awards given to military servicemen and women, a Purple Heart. It’s given to a soldier who was wounded in action.
Miller served in the military from Sept. 13, 1939, to July 24, 1945.
After his time in the military he worked as a civil servant at Fort Benning, Ga.,where he was a tank and artillery mechanic.
Miller served as a school bus driver for 10 years.
He played golf into his late 80s.
“At 84 he won a tournament in Georgia,” Russo said.
“He’s been a strong man and strong for this family,” he said.
Allen Miller, Edgar Miller’s nephew, traveled from Spartanburg, S.C., with his wife, Gail.
“It is so great,” Allen said of being there to celebrate.
“We are thankful to be here. We are so excited he lived to be 100. He’s a great person. We love him,” Gail said.
“The Lord really blessed him,” said nephew Sonny Gosnell.
“It is a pleasure to be here. We thank the Lord he made it. It’s an honor, a godsend that he’s reached 100,” Gosnell said.
“We are extremely excited that Mr. Miller and his son, Sonny, wanted to celebrate his 100th birthday celebration with fellow veterans, family and employees of the Medical Center that care for him daily,” said Aleashia Brandon, recreation therapy supervisor.
Miller’s birthday was Wednesday.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.