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Kingsport centenarian celebrates birthday with a zip line ride

Matthew Lane • Updated Oct 30, 2018 at 8:52 AM

KINGSPORT – Long-time resident Bob Miller, who turned 100 on Monday, celebrated his centennial birthday with a hearty “Geronimo” and a backward ride down a 310-foot zip line at Bays Mountain Park.

Along the way, the newly minted centenarian was cheered on by family and friends as he continued a birthday tradition for the fifth year in a row.

“I didn’t really like it (the first time he did it). I was just glad he made it,” Doris, his wife of 75 years, said with a laugh.

“The hardest part is going up the cargo net (to the launch platform),” Bob said. “And coming down you’re on a line but you can’t control whether you look forward. Sometimes you come in backwards and unless they put a rudder on me, I don’t think I can do that.”

Bob Miller is one of the most active – if not the most active – centenarians in town. The 100-year-old retired chemist walks 2 miles every morning before breakfast, faithfully wears hit fitness tracker (which he checked just before riding down the zip line) and drove himself and his wife up the mountain on Monday.

He started zip lining when Bays Mountain first opened the course in 2011 and he currently holds the record for being the oldest person to ever go down the line. Every year for the past five years he’s gone down it on his birthday, challenging others to join him, including the staff at Asbury Place (where he and Doris live), Mayor John Clark and others in the community.

On Monday, more than 10 people joined Miller in taking a trip down the zip line.

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 the highest mountains in England and Scotland and spent a week backpacking in the Rocky Mountains and Yosemite. The the last trip he took with the group was at the age of 71 when he climbed Mount Whitney in California.

Today, Bob routinely walks in the corridors of Asbury Place to get in his daily allotment of steps.

“I can just step through the door. I’m on flat ground, there’s no rocks or holes and it’s air conditioned,” Bob said.

And what did Bob say he wants for his birthday? More health, of course.

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