Pauline Miller Turns 100 Years Strong
Chapel Pointe resident Pauline Miller, who turned 100 on August 27, 2020, rarely lets obstacles stand in her way. She’s spent a lifetime holding down the fort and holding up those around her.
Born to William and Helen Anderson in Dickinson Township, Pa., Pauline was the oldest of three sisters and one brother, who died in infancy. She remembers spending her childhood pulling weeds in the garden on the farm and babysitting for neighbors. “My dad tried to make a boy out of me. I was 12 years old, and he thought I could plow the fields with the horses, but I wasn’t big or strong enough.”
That may have been the last time Pauline wasn’t strong enough.
In 1942, she married Joseph Miller, whose brilliance of mind made up for his lack of farming intuition. A passionate pastor by trade, Joe caused several tractor mishaps, but perhaps the most memorable was the day he mowed a steep hill, flipped the tractor and ended up with a leg pinned under the tractor and mower deck.
“I told him, ‘If I get this up, don’t ask any questions; just get out,’” Pauline said. “I tried three times, and on the third time, I got it. Boy did he ever move quick!” After a trip to the hospital, the Millers still made it to dinner at their friends’ house that night.
Pauline grew up dreaming of becoming a surgeon, but her father had other plans. After three years of high school, her father made her quit to get a job and support the family.
Her desire to learn persisted. During world War II, she learned to weave silk to make parachutes for soldiers. After she got married, Joe’s father passed along his carpentry knowledge to her and helped her build her own house.
Pauline managed and completed every aspect of building her home, including installing the electrical wiring herself. When it came time for the inspection, the inspector wouldn’t even look at her home because a woman had built it. She had to contact the inspector’s boss to come out. “They never found anything that needed to be fixed on any of the houses I worked on,” Pauline said with a twinkle of pride.
“When I wasn’t doing it for myself, I’d help my friends at no charge with whatever they needed to do in their homes,” Pauline said. When she was fixing up another home, she said a neighbor laughed, “I never know when I go by if you will be up on the roof or breaking up concrete or what you’ll be doing.”
“I always did everything for others and for myself,” Pauline said. In fact, even when she gave birth to her daughter, Paula, Joe wasn’t around. Pauline ended up passing out, and the doctors barely revived her in time to save both her and her baby’s lives.
Pauline loved living among the mountains on a farm. She tells stories of fixing up the barn with her daughter, making the space livable, and eventually hosting Paula’s wedding there.
“We had a nice collection of animals,” Pauline said. Emmy Lou, the sheep, would follow her around the garden and eat vegetables. A kind-hearted German shepherd, hefty horse, and roaming cat rounded out their farm.
One year, Pauline got a rooster for thanksgiving dinner. Every time she would feed him, he would talk to her. Some days, she’d call out to him just to hear him call back. The rooster soon earned a name, Henry. “Joe said, ‘Aren’t we going to have chicken for dinner,” and I said, ‘I don’t think so,’” Pauline chuckled.
When Pauline moved to Chapel Pointe in 2014, she had spent 57 years “holding down the fort” with Joe and had been widowed for 15 years. It was the 20th move she had made as an adult.
Pauline doesn’t know what to credit for her longevity. Many of her family died young, so she doesn’t think 100 years is in her genes.
One thing is certain. Whether she’s lifting a tractor in the face of an emergency or living her life on her own terms at Chapel Pointe, Pauline Miller is one incredibly strong centenarian.
Happy Birthday, Pauline!