Dick Miller says he still feels strange about coming to Cheshire as a visitor. Miller, who turns 100 next month, spent two-thirds of his life living here and has left behind a long trail of civic accomplishments.
"It broke my heart to move from Cheshire," he told the Town Council earlier this month. He said Cheshire has "been a great place for all the years that I've been here."
"I'm sorry that they're close to ending, but I hope it's stalled off for a while," he added, drawing laughs from the audience.
The Town Council honored Miller at its Dec. 11 meeting. The centenarian-to-be will celebrate his milestone birthday on Jan. 2.
Miller, who moved to Cheshire in 1947, was a member of the town's Board of Police Commissioners from 1967-1973 and served on the Board of Education from 1975-1980.
In 1974, he started the annual July 4th flag survey to count the number of flags flying in town. He also co-founded the Cheshire Food Drive and helped found Cheshire Hospice, serving on its board until it was merged into Midstate Medical Center in 1998.
He spent a decade on the town's beautification committee and served on the advisory committee that designed and produced the veterans' memorial plaza in front of Town Hall.
Most recently, he spent 10 years on the board of the Cheshire Senior Center, which, according to his daughter, he still visits several times a week.
He also is a World War II veteran and longtime member of the Cheshire Rotary Club.
In addition to being recognized by the Town Council, State Sen. Joe Markley and State Rep. Al Adinolfi presented him with a proclamation and members of Cheshire High School's BRAVE club, which recognizes veterans, read letters thanking Miller for his service.
"It's not often that these young students or anyone in this audience gets to be in the presence of a hero," said Ralph Zingarella, social studies teacher at the high school and advisor for BRAVE (Bringing Remembrance to All Veterans Everywhere).
Miller's daughter Betsy, who attended the meeting, said her father reluctantly moved to Masonicare in Wallingford two years ago because his wife, Barbara, needed more medical attention. She said she was pleased by the outpouring of respect and gratitude shown to her father Tuesday.
"It’s astonishing,” she said.