Goldie Miller, one of the oldest Marylanders who had attained the designation of a super-centenarian, died of heart failure Oct. 16 at her daughter's Pikesville home. She was 111.
The daughter of Sam Kirson, a property manager, and Anna Kirson, a homemaker, Goldie Kirson was born one of seven siblings in Baltimore and raised near Mondawmin.
Mrs. Miller was born April 25, 1903, during the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt and into a now-vanished world of horse-drawn carriages, streetcars, and gaslit homes and streets.
"My mother did not dwell in the past. She was not into that at all," said her son, Dr. Gerald A. Miller, 77, a retired ophthalmologist who lives in Ellicott City. "There were really no cars at that time, but I do recall her telling me that when she was a kid, one of her jobs was to go into her father's carriage and lower the sides so the rain couldn't get inside."
"She went to high school in Baltimore and graduated. She tried to get her records for years, but the school had burned down and I was never able to confirm its name. I think it was on either Poppleton or Hoffman streets," her son said.
After graduating from high school, she worked at the old Hutzler's department store on the wrapping desk before her marriage.
"She walked the two miles to work to save the 15 cents carfare," her son said.
She married Dr. Benjamin Miller, a physician she met on a blind date, in 1924. The couple eventually moved to Wilkens Avenue in Southwest Baltimore, where they settled in two houses next door to one another. In one house, Dr. Miller practiced medicine, while his family lived in the other.
"This was a working-class neighborhood, and they were his clientele. My mother worked as his nurse-secretary from 1925 to 1955. When the Depression came, patients paid in commodities, and he'd bring home the comic books for me, for instance, that they gave him as payment," her son said.
"My mother made certain that no patient ever suffered for lack of care as they accepted commodities or credit when cash was short," he said. "She knew the patients as well as my father and could assist in moments of confusion to put people at ease."
Mrs. Miller's husband died in 1958.
"When I was working, she became my secretary in 1979, and was with me until 1990," her son said. "She was able to keep going, loved the patients and loved being in demand for our patients who were in our care."
Mrs. Miller was also known for her business acumen.
"She saved incessantly so that her advice in business affairs was both prescient and wise," her son said.
For years, Mrs. Miller volunteered in the gift shop at Sinai Hospital. She drove until she was 87.
For the last 45 years, Mrs. Miller lived with her daughter, Natalie Wilder, 84, a retired nurse.
She was able to stay at home through the efforts of Griswold Home Care of Baltimore and Howard counties, which helped with care, family members said.
In a 1994 New England Centenarian Study and a 2006 Super-Centenarian Study conducted by Boston University School of Medicine, Mrs. Miller was identified as a super-centenarian. People who are 111 years old are extremely rare, concluded the studies.
As of this year, it is thought that there are only 60 or so people in the U.S. who are older than 110.
"An organization that studies centenarians said there was another Maryland woman who was two or three months older than my mother, but I'm not sure if she is still alive," said Dr. Miller.
Mrs. Miller continued to be vibrant and engaged, even though she had been bedridden since fracturing a hip when she was 110.
One of her favorite foods was mashed potatoes, which she ate every day. She also liked listening to the music of Lawrence Welk, watching TV, reading the Wall Street Journal daily, and interacting with visitors who came to call.
"She ate a very basic diet and did not live high. She liked steak and pizza, but nothing that was fatty, and never ate anything in excess," said Dr. Miller.
"She got plenty of rest, stayed interested in current events, which kept her mind active. She liked being mentally challenged," her son said. "She never smoked or drank, and didn't abuse her body."