Miller celebrates 101st birthday with zip line ride

Matthew Lane • Oct 30, 2019 at 1:30 PM

KINGSPORT - Kingsport’s own Bob Miller – who turned 101 on Tuesday - once again celebrated his birthday by taking a ride down the 310-foot zip line at Bays Mountain Park.

On his birthday for the past several years—including his 100th last year — Miller has donned helmet and harness to climb the 28-foot cargo net that leads to the Flying Squirrel zip line. Each year he’s broken his own record of the oldest person to ride the zip line.

“I never dreamed when I was younger that I would reach this age or be in as good physical condition as I am,” Miller said. “I keep being surprised about what I’m able to do.”

Miller is one of the most active – if not the most active – centenarians in town. The 101-year-old retired Eastman chemist walks every morning before breakfast, faithfully wears a fitness tracker and in the years since his retirement, he’s paraglided, flown in helicopters, rode in hot air balloons and employed powered parachutes. He first took to the skies in an open cockpit biplane at the age of 12.

As for riding the zip line, Miller started when Bays Mountain first opened the course in 2011 and every year for the past six years he’s gone down it on his birthday, challenging others to join him, including the staff at Asbury Place (where he lives), chamber of commerce officials and others in the community.

Miller was active in the Eastman Hiking Club and his first trip with them was for climbing and sightseeing in Switzerland. He’s also climbed mountains in England and Scotland, spent a week backpacking in the Rocky Mountains and Yosemite, while the last trip he took with the group was at the age of 71 when he climbed Mt. Whitney in California.

“If you determine to start and you’re persistent in continuing, then you can achieve far more than you think you can,” Miller said.