By Melody Vallieu
TROY — Willard Miller didn’t know he was going to live to be 100 — it just happened.
The centenarian marked his milestone birthday on Sept. 15, 2017, celebrating the following day with a family gathering and birthday celebration.
Miller remains on the same land his parents purchased when he was 2, surrounded by two of his children, Ted (D0ttie) Miller and Kathy (Bill) Folck. A third child, Tinsi (Keith) Kline resides in Grand Blanc, Mich. His close-knit family also includes seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Surviving the Great Depression was hard, Miller said. He said they had cows and chickens and a large garden to help sustain the family. Any extra vegetables from the garden were taken to town and sold, he said.
As an adult, Miller took to the tool making trade, first co-owning Martin, Miller and Adamson Tool in Dayton, then owning the business solely as Kemp Tool. After retiring, he then made a second career as the plant engineer for a Dayton window company.
Miller — who remains mostly healthy — and his family believe his key to longevity is remaining active. Married to his wife, Betty, for nearly 70 years, the family went on trips and in later years the couple played cards at the Troy Senior Citizen Center, where Miller still visits when able.
“I don’t know, it just happened,” said Miller, who still likes to cook himself hamburgers on his George Foreman.
While raising his family, Miller also was an active member of the Troy Elks, reaching the title of district deputy grand exalted ruler, and is believed to be the oldest living member with that title in the area. He also has served as a Mason for 71 years.
His children fondly remember the summers spent at a rented cabin at St. Marys, where Miller enjoyed fishing and spending time outdoors.
“He’s always been very family-oriented,” said Kathy Folck. “We’ve always had family get-togethers … holidays, birthdays.”
Ted Miller also remembers a good childhood, full of love.
“When I was a kid in high school, that’s how I got in the machine tool trade, I would go to work with my father,” said Ted Miller. “He was my mentor and dad and always around when you needed him.”