Pembroke council member Johnnie Miller is a man who wears a lot of hats, including husband, father, coach and cancer survivor.
How long have you lived in Pembroke?
I’ve been here quite a while, since I was seven years old, so that’s 50 years. My family moved here from Savannah. My father was military and originally from Los Angeles. My mother’s home is here in Pembroke. He came to Ft. Stewart and was driving the USO (United Service Organizations) bus bringing soldiers to Savannah on the weekends and he met my mother. He was stationed at Hunter (Army Airfield), and I was born in Savannah.
How long have you been a part of the Pembroke City Council?
Since 1992. My father, Gene Miller was Mayor Pro-tem. After he died, (then) Mayor Gene Cowart and the council appointed me to the position in 1992, and I’ve been here ever since.You wear quite a number of different hats. Tell me what else fills your plate?
I was head basketball coach at Bryan County High School for 34 years. Then I retired from there, and now I’m head basketball coach at Tattnall County High School in Reidsville. I’ve been there for three years, and teach driver’s education there too as director of driver’s ed. I’m a chairman of the Deacon board at my church, Mt. Moriah Baptist Church (Pembroke). I’m a father; I have four children. My son Johnnie, Jr. is a merchant marine and lives in Panama. My daughter Candius is assistant city clerk in Statesboro, my older daughter Shawna in New Jersey is a probation officer, and my youngest daughter is Angela. My wife, Angie, retired three years ago from civil service. We’ve been married for 26 years, and just had an anniversary March 7. We couldn’t both stay home and look at each other, so I had to go back to work (he said laughing). And, I’m involved in Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and AAU basketball as assistant director. In AAU basketball we take a lot of girls 12 - 18 different places to play ball and help them with scholarships. I am also a grandfather of three grandkids. Two are in New Jersey, age 12 and 9, and then Brice who is three, lives in Statesboro. I try to spend a lot of time with him. And, I’m an alumni of Savannah State and Georgia Southern Universities, with bachelors and masters’ degrees in physical education and recreation.
How do you manage to find time for all that you do?
I try to split my time between job, church and family and try to balance it out. It’s difficult, but I try.
I understand you took part in Georgia municipal training and received a certificate of excellent. Tell me about that.
The certificate of excellence is the last in a series of leadership courses at the University of Georgia. It’s the highest certificate you can get. Once you complete the final leadership class, you’re become eligible for the certificate. There were only 19 certificates given to city officials for the State of Georgia. I was one of them. You have to be chosen by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. It was one of the high points of my career.
You are also involved with the Relay for Life and Cancer Society?
Yes. In 2000, I had a bout with colon cancer and had to decide on chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. I prayed about it and took surgery. I didn’t have to take chemo or anything. I had the surgery in August 2000 and went back to work the next month in Sept. to coach basketball that year. They had counted me out. All my friends were at the hospital. It was a trying time, but a real turning point in my life. Since then, I’ve dedicated a lot of time to Relay for Life and to the Cancer Society. I will be part of the North Bryan Relay for Life this year. Back in 2001, I led the walk, and ever since then I’ve been working with that organization. I feel they were a big support group during my trying time, and feel it’s a very important organization. My father and mother both died of cancer. It runs rampant through my family. So, I take care of myself and keep up with my checkups. You do anything to stay alive. You put pride and all these things on the back burner and think about your health. I’ve been through some things, but I trust in the Lord and am very spiritually minded. The Lord has been good to me. I’m blessed. I feel I owe my support to society. It’s been a whole life of service for me, and I enjoy it. If I have to die tomorrow, I can say I’ve had a good life.