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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Sometimes we hear people say, “If I live to be a hundred …”
Well — Miller Packer has that beat by seven years.
A resident at Ridge Crest Manor Assisted Living in the Colfax Health and Rehabilitation Center, Millie Packer celebrated her 107th birthday March 25.
The Colfax Messenger interviewed Millie two years ago on her 105th birthday for a story published in the newspaper.
Up until she was about 103, Millie lived in one of the Sandy Ridge assisted living apartments at CHRC.
Millie grew up in Waucon, Iowa. She lived with her grandparents, and later on, her aunt went to Madison to find work.
Millie had only one brother. Their mother died during the Spanish influenza pandemic during World War I when Millie was three years old.
An estimated 50 million to 100 million people worldwide died from the Spanish flu, which tended to kill young, healthy people who would develop a deadly pneumonia that progressed rapidly over the course of a few days.
Before she died, Millie’s mother told Millie’s aunt, “don’t put them in the orphanage.”
When Millie’s aunt went to work in Madison, she asked Millie if she wanted to come to Madison to work, too.
Millie worked as a housekeeper for the mayor in Madison. She had the evenings off, and she met her husband, Tim, at a dance. He was in Madison for the UW-Madison Agricultural Short Course.
When Tim had one semester left of the short course, his father asked if Tim wanted to farm, so that is how Millie and Tim ended up on a farm near Rusk in the Town of Red Cedar not far from Exit 45.
Millie and her husband had six children — five girls and one boy. At the time of the interview in 2019, her son and one daughter had already passed away, both victims of cancer.
When asked how she ended up in Colfax, Millie said her two daughters, Mary and Sally, live here, and they wanted her to live in Colfax, too.
After Tim passed away, Millie decided to sell the farm and moved to Menomonie. She lived in Menomonie until she moved to Colfax Health and Rehab’s former location on High Street, where she stayed while waiting for the assisted living apartments at Sandy Ridge to be ready for occupancy.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was not possible to have a big birthday celebration for Millie at Colfax Health and Rehab, but Kenzie Galetka, nursing home administrator, noted that since the facility was able to have visitors again, Millie would be able to visit with her family.