Following 100th birthday, local journalism veteran receives service award

100-year-old Win Miller receives the Syd Kemsley Community Service Award by the Kiwanis Club of Chatham-Kent on Wednesday May 8, 2019. (photo by Allanah Wills)

Fresh off of celebrating a century on Earth, a well-known agriculture reporter is being honoured for her community achievements in Chatham-Kent.

Win Miller, born in 1919, celebrated the big 100-year milestone on March 7. This week she was given the Syd Kemsley Community Service Award by the Kiwanis Club of Chatham-Kent.

Miller began her career while she was still in high school at the age of 17 as a reporter for the Windsor Star in 1936.

“I got paid two dollars a week for reporting student news and I was overpaid,” she laughed. “Everything just led something into another and I was very lucky.”

Miller eventually started reporting on other types of news with the Star, with a large focus on agricultural stories.

After the Windsor Star, Miller worked as an editor at CFCO Radio for a short while before getting the opportunity to become the chief of the Chatham Bureau for the London Free Press in the late ’50s, where she worked for nearly 50 years.  During her career as a journalist, Miller received a reputation as a reliable and fair source.

When asked what the biggest change in the world was since she started her career, Miller didn’t hesitate with her answer — how women are treated.

“Women have a fair shake now, they have opportunities they didn’t have,” she explained. “It was impossible. Until World War II, women couldn’t report. A few women in Canada did features, but women didn’t report any real news.”

As for tips for a successful and long career? Miller said having courage is key.

Her tips for a long life come down more to luck and having good genes. Both of Miller’s parents lived well into their 90s. However, as an added tip, she said exercise is important for longevity.

“I didn’t drive a car until I was 30,” she said. “I walked everywhere. That’s a lot of exercise.”

After retiring in 1982, Miller achieved a life long goal by going back to school at the age of 63. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Windsor and graduated with honours.

“The qualifications when I worked for the London Free Press was five years newspaper experience and a degree and I didn’t have a degree,” she explained. “They waived it because I had done quite a bit of work for them. So, I went back to school after I retired and I graduated with 90 per cent.”

When the Kent County Agricultural Hall of Fame was established in 1989, Miller also spent several years writing biographies for every person who was inducted.

On Wednesday afternoon Chuck Scott, president of the local Kiwanis Club, presented Miller with a plaque naming her this year’s recipient of the Syd Kemsley Community Service Award. According to Scott, Kemsley was a long time member of the club who completed many years of community service. Every year the award is given in his honour to a Chatham-Kent citizen who has also gone above and beyond for the community. Miller spent many years devoting time to help people with developmental handicaps as well as volunteering with Victoria Avenue United Church.

“When Win’s name suggested we thought, perfect candidate,” said Scott. “Somebody’s who’s connected to the community, all her life’s been involved in a number of things across the community and the church, with groups in the community and so on. We just thought she met the criteria that we thought Syd exemplifies and we think that Win does as well.”

In the past, Miller was also presented with the Queen’s Jubilee Medal as well as a plaque from the Chatham and District Chamber of Commerce. The award from the Kiwanis Club is just another recognition that Miller can add to her list that showcases a century well-lived.