Lena Miller

Lena Miller celebrated her 100th birthday, and the county's designation of Lena Miller day, on Jan. 8. (Submitted photo courtesy of New Life Assisted Living / January 7, 2014)

Lena Miller was all smiles as family and friends gathered to wish her a happy birthday Wednesday at Timbuktu Restaurant. The 100-year-old Elkridge resident smiled when she received balloons and when she talked about enjoying her favorite breakfast that morning — bagels with cream cheese and lox.

When Alvin G. Thomas, president and CEO of New Life Assisted Living, presented her with a proclamation from Howard County Executive Ken Ulman stating that Jan. 8, 2014, was to be Lena Miller Day in Howard County in honor of her 100th birthday, she got misty-eyed.

"I'm moved to tears," said Miller, who was born and raised in Maryland. "I have something to write to my friends in Florida about."

Miller and her husband, Herman, moved to Florida when she was 65. Her husband died of kidney failure 15 years ago. Miller returned to Maryland last year at the request of her younger son Marty, and his wife, Bonnie, of Jessup.

"I was very happy when she invited me to come stay with them," said Miller, who later moved to New Life in Elkridge.

"It was a place I was happy to go to," said Miller, who has a bad hip and uses a walker or wheelchair. "It was small — only six people.

Miller graduated from Eastern High School in Baltimore during the Depression and got her first job on Gay Street, selling shoes. She credits a social life filled with dancing — her husband operated a school of dance — and the warm weather of Florida for her health.

"This woman is amazing," Thomas said. "She actually corrects my memory sometimes, and I'm 23." He said the center is happy to have her.

"I feel extremely blessed to have my mother here," Marty Miller said. "I didn't get to see her very often [when she was in Florida] because I had to work. When I heard her health was failing, I wanted her to be with me. The way she's going, she'll probably outlive me."

Bonnie Miller said her mother-in-law has always eaten healthy, well-balanced meals and stayed on top of things, healthwise. "She never misses an appointment."

Sitting at the head of the table, Miller said that turning 100 was no different from any other day.

"It feels pretty good," she said. "It feels like it did yesterday."