|Posted by Anne Siren on January 18, 2013 at 1:50 PM|
The Pelican almost asked Jerome S. Miller, who is better known as Jerry, for a birth certificate because this lively man with a sharp wit doesn’t fit the image. One could lose a lot of cash betting on his age.
He moves swiftly over to his piano and hits those ivories better than many pianists in local clubs.
The paper discovered Jerry when Joyce Murray called to say, “I have a remarkable candidate for your weekly “Making A Difference” feature story.
“Jerry Miller is still entertaining different groups at St. Gabriel Parish. He amazes me because, except for a hearing deficit, he’s as quick and alert as a much younger person. He’s done so much, and he still does enjoy giving of his talents. I can’t believe he is celebrating his 100–year birthday,” said Murray.
Jerry plays the piano on a regular basis for the Vincentian Meals for the Homeless, the Sunday morning pancake breakfast, the ‘Coffee And’ group, and at some of the social events in his condo.”
When Miller thought about this list of his current activities, he added, “I used to entertain the Seniors in Day Care at St. Elizabeth’s. Asked if he enjoys what he does, he laughs and says, “Do I enjoy it? It’s my life.”
His working years were spent at Miller’s Lilliputian Shoppe which he owned for 50 years in Stamford, Ct. “The store was my daddy’s idea,” he explains. “We opened on Dec. 3l, 1930 in the height of the depression. Dad thought a children’s store was a good idea because there were none in the area, and even though times were tough, parents were more likely to spend money on their children then on themselves.”
As he reminisced about his life, he said, “It feels like yesterday.” Then, turning to his stunning wife, Miller said, “The most important thing I ever did was to marry Gail 47 years ago. She was chosen Woman of the Year by the Archdiocese of Miami four years ago. She’s beautiful inside and out. She was a model, you know. She modeled a lot for Pehle’s and other retailers. She’s still a model at our church fashion shows.
“We have a son, a daughter in law, and a wonderful grandson and granddaughter. They were all on hand for my wonderful birthday party.”
Music has always filled his spare time. He says, “I wrote my first song when I was 14. I wrote my first musical when I was 23. It was performed in 1936 at the Center Men’s Club Follies in Port Chester, N. Y. It was a sellout.”
In 1942, as a private in the Air Force, Miller had a radio show featuring him singing and playing the piano. The show was called, ‘Prelude to Sunset’. He recalls, “I was a hit and played five days a week until I left for officers’ candidate school. I came out of the service as a captain in the Air Force. I was the head of receiving, shipping and repair of the warehouses at the Oklahoma City Air Depot. I was in charge of starting the first supply depot for the B -29s that were headed for the Pacific war front.”
He chuckles, saying, “I think my after hours entertaining at the piano, along with a drummer and great guitarist, at the officer’s club kept me from being sent overseas. They loved my music. We were really popular when the young flyers, returning for the weekend, brought their instruments and sat in with us.”
His recall is amazing. “I retired Dec. 11, 1980. We were snowbirds for years right here in Pompano Beach. We became full time residents in 2005.
In 1986, while in the hospital, I became a poet. Since then, I’ve been published and even been invited to become a member of the International Poet Society. One of the poems I wrote and sent to President Reagan was an encouraging poem when the Democrats were picking on him. I have his thank you letter framed and hanging on my living room wall.”
Music and poetry filled his life then and now. At one point he even had a 12-pc. orchestra that played country clubs, graduations and other special occasions.
With a sigh he admits he’s the sole survivor of all of his musician friends.
Wife, Gail, who was on hand for this interview says, “Beside all of his many accomplishments, Jerry has been a very supportive husband. He’s been there for me when I was a successful model and when I became a breast cancer survivor. I’m so lucky to have him. My Here’s a sample of one of Miller’s poems written in 1999:
When I wake up in the morning, and the sun is shining bright,
I know exactly where it comes from and who put it in my sight.
He seems to know the feeling a sunny day will bring,
just listen for His birds and when they begin to sing.
There are those times when His color choice is gray,
still I’m grateful for another living day.
But when tomorrow comes with His sunbeams out again to play
I look skyward with a joyful happy face
and thank Him in a most respectful way.
Congratulations on turning 100, Jerry Miller, and thank you for filling the world around you with music and poetry.