Hudson's Ada Miller celebrates 110th birthday

by Laura Freeman | Reporter Published:

Hudson -- A supercentenarian lives in Hudson, known for flowers, education and chocolate.

Ada Kate Cooper Miller celebrated 110 years of life Dec. 12 at Hudson Elms, 563 W. Streetsboro St., making her a supercentenarian.

She patiently did an interview with a couple of news networks and then tore into a gift, a box of chocolates -- her favorite.

Born Dec. 12, 1903, in Southampton, England, Miller arrived in Hudson when she was 3 months old in 1904 along with her mother, Annie, half-brother, William, and sister, Kathleen, to join their father, Harry Cooper, a trained landscape gardener who worked for James Ellsworth on his "Evamere" estate.

Ellsworth, a wealthy benefactor of Hudson, helped to revive the town and Western Reserve Academy in the 20th century.

She lived most of her life at 139 Franklin St., in a house that was moved from Aurora Street in 1913. In September an honorary street sign, Ada Cooper Miller Lane, was added to Franklin Street to honor Miller.

Miller worked along side her mother in Cooper's Flower Shop and Greenhouse for 75 years. In 1938 she was elected to the Hudson School Board and served for 40 years, including as president from 1954 to 1978.

She moved to The Hudson Elms Assisted Living Facility in 2003, where she now resides.

Mayor William Currin said it was a big day for Miller.

"It's not just a birthday," Currin said. "It's a celebration of all of Hudson because one of the reasons we have a great city is because of great people like Ada."

Currin said Miller has given her time, talents and blessing including 40 years served on the school board while it was transformed to a campus structure.

"She represents the four pillars of Hudson -- family, faith, education and entrepreneurship," Currin said.

Frank Youngwerth, host of Good Day in Hudson, has interviewed Miller in the past and considers her a good friend. He announced her birthday on Facebook and had received 122 messages by her 2 p.m. birthday party.

Martha Hills followed Miller on the school board from 1974 to 1981 and said she was her mentor.

"It was so much easier for me," Hills said. "We talked about how the school board should function as a team and get together on issues, and it worked."

Hills said she continues her friendship until today.

Miller's family visited at Thanksgiving but many of the birthday party guests on Dec. 12 were friends of Miller's daughter, Nancy, graduates of the Hudson High School class of 1950 with 28 students. Martha Garver Wagner, Florence Gier and Nancy were cheerleaders. They would visit in the Greenhouse behind the Miller home.

"Ada was in charge," Wagner said. "She did my wedding bouquet."

Gier said the small class gave them an opportunity to know each other.

"She made our corsages for the prom and flowers for my wedding," Gier said. "She is so dear to us."

Janet Nelson Marshall also was a classmate of Nancy, and her father was the superintendent of Hudson School District when Miller was president of the school board.

"Everybody loved her, so she did something right," Marshall said.

Don Husat, who now lives on Nicholson Drive, was a neighbor of Miller's on Franklin Street.

"I remember going over to the greenhouse," Husat said. "She had a collie named 'Butchie.'"

Husat said he was just a boy when the Ellsworth mansion, "Evamere," was torn down, but he remembers the house and then remembers it not being there in the 50s. The Hudson Middle School football stadium was a wheat field.

"It was a different life in Hudson," Husat said. "We walked to a lot of places. We walked to the Main Street stores. It had a Mayberry kind of atmosphere," he added. "We knew all the neighbors and the doctor in town."

Brenda Divine of Safe Routes Hudson brought her mother, Ginny Sutherland, to visit.

"Ada was our florist for our wedding in 1993," Divine said. She remembers swimming in the Ada Cooper Miller Natatorium.

Sutherland met Miller through the Hudson Garden Club and said she always loved flowers and vegetable gardens.

"I enjoy the beauty of what I've created," Sutherland said.

Miller was known as the "flower lady" and handled flower arrangements for weddings, dances, Western Reserve Academy, the Hudson Garden Club and Christ Church Episcopal.

"Ada was a helping hand with the flower arrangements," Sutherland said. "She taught a lot of lessons."

Sutherland confided that after the volunteers created the arrangements and put them away for the night, she believed Miller "fixed" them because they always looked better in the morning.

Jane Gibson attended Christ Church Episcopal and remembers the flower arrangements and spending Sunday dinners at each other's homes as well as holidays. Gibson and her husband, Ed, visit Miller every week.

"She did the flowers [for church] every Sunday," Gibson said. "And she brought cherry pie to our house for the Fourth of July."

Like many of the couples in Hudson, Miller arranged flowers for the wedding of John and Barbara Hanna in 1988. But Miller's influence goes even further. Miller introduced John Hanna's mother and father to each other.

"John wouldn't be here without Ada," Barbara Hanna said.

Miller's love of chocolate hasn't faded. Sally McArn brings her a chocolate milkshake every week.

"She'll drink it all and then we gossip," McArn said.

Miller once said she lives from day to day. Those days have added up to 110 years.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

Facebook: Laura Freeman, Record Publishing

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP

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