Hermiston resident Irene Miller and many of her loved ones celebrated, Saturday, Oct. 9, as Miller neared her 100th birthday. She who would turn 100 two days later, enjoyed a party Saturday at the Harkenrider Senior Activity Center, Hermiston.
In addition to partying with her family, who travelled from locations as far as Colorado, friendly passersby also wished her well. Miller greeted friends for a “drive-by celebration,” in which people drove past the senior center, stop briefly and then shouted out a greeting to the new centenarian. This was done to limit potential COVID-19 exposure.
At the party, Miller’s loved ones boasted of her health and strong mental capacities.
“I keep telling people I’m an S.O.S — slower, older and smarter,” Miller said.
She said she has two secrets to good living: a sense of humor and a positive attitude.
Miller said she had been looking forward to her 100th birthday for about 10 years. It meant a great deal to her, she said, to be in the company of her three daughters, their husbands, their children and grandchildren. Short a couple of close family members, who were not able to be at the party because of a COVID-19 scare, there were more than 20 attendees.
“I love this town,” she said, because Hermiston is a good place to raise children. It also has given her many opportunities to be active. At the party, she spoke of her involvement in the hospital auxiliary, the parent-teacher association and the First Methodist Church. She also was a leader in her daughter’s groups — Camp Fire Girls, Bluebirds and 4-H — when they were children.
While Miller listed a few of her accomplishments and community work, other partygoers mentioned her other activities. She, along with her family, sponsored two foreign students. Also, she donated 23 gallons of blood, worked for Habitat for Humanity and was president of the senior center board. She even helped to create the Harkenrider Senior Activity Center, people said.
She remains active, as she enjoys playing cards and bingo with friends, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She also embroiders, crochets and knits, creating hundreds of items that remain treasured objects.
“She is so full of love, and joyfulness and laughter,” said Judy Lovins, one of Miller’s three daughters. “We love her so much.”
“I love her deeply,” said Edna Jean “Tara” Miller, another of Miller’s daughters. “She’s such an inspiration, just in terms of her sharp mind, her soul, her kindness, her sense of humor and her service.”
The “baby” of the three daughters, Kathy Crowley, complimented her mother for being “always there” for her and all of her family and friends.”
“I enjoy her humor, her love and her beauty,” Crowley said. Her mother has taught her how to be positive, driven and sportsmanlike.
They are not alone in loving Miller, according to the trio of daughters. They said this celebration would have included 150 more people if not for COVID-19. At Miller’s last big birthday smash, two years ago, visitors packed the senior center.
As a social person, Miller has loved these large gatherings. She also loves going to Seattle Mariner games and traveling, things she has not been able to do lately. But she has, been able to keep active with some of her favorite things, as she still meets friends for cards.
Ruth Ford, who often plays cards with Miller, was one of the people who drove past the senior center to offer birthday greetings. They have known each other 40 years.
“She’s not like a 100-year-old,” Ford said, as Miller keeps score and shuffles when they play pinochle and canasta. The centenarian even frequently wins these games.
Miller’s loved ones said they are looking forward to her next birthday party.