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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Characters In My Play: Goldie Millice

She was a short, dainty lady with a visible physical handicap, a raspy voice, sparkling personality, and no-nonsense approach to what she considered important - getting the news out to the people.  Golden "Goldie" Millice was a friendly, sweet lady who was the voice of North Lewisburg for about 40 years while serving as a correspondent for the Urbana Daily Citizen.  Her column of tidbits and facts about the day-to-day activities of the town's residents appeared weekly in the newspaper.

Goldie worked primarily out of a small retail store on the ground floor of the old Town Hall, which stood at the southeast corner of Maple and Sycamore Streets.  It was interesting to enter the building, and to hear Goldie as she conducted business with patrons, or as she haggled on the telephone with some member of the Urbana Daily Citizen staff.  She could "tell it like it is" and get her point across in no-nonsense terms.

She was born in North Lewisburg on November 3, 1889, a daughter of Thomas and Adra Hudson Heston.  She married George Millice, who died in 1947.  They were the parents of two sons, William and Charles.  Goldie was active in the community all of her life, and probably knew everyone in town.  She stayed in constant contact with people in order to have the latest news to be inserted in the pages of the Urbana Daily Citizen.

She died on Saturday, January 23, 1960, after two years of failing health, and serious illness during her last two months.

On January 27, 1960, the editorial staff of the Urbana Daily Citizen posted a beautiful editorial to Goldie's memory in the newspaper.  The full text of that editorial follows:

Only One Goldie

"In all likelihood, ther will never be another "Goldie" as far as those of us at The Citizen are concerned.  Her death leaves a place vacant in our heats which no one will ever fill.

"We venture to say that this same situation exists in North Lewisburg.  Goldie Millice was something special in that community as she was to all her friends everywhere - and she had a lot.  She will be sadly missed as one of the most colorful personalities in a community which has more interesting personalities than many towns of its size.

"In spite of a physical handicap which may have done much to shorten her life, Goldie's energies and enthusiasms were a strong influence for good in her town.  Her little shop was a meeting place for small talk and one of the first places to get the news of more importance.  While it was the best help The Citizen had in getting news of North Lewisburg, it probably was also our biggest competition.

"The fact is that it was important to most good causes to enlist Goldie's aid early in the game.  And she was usually free to give it and could raise a fuss with the newspaper if she felt we weren't doing our share to help out, too.

"As a matter of fact, for about 40 years Goldie was The Citizen in North Lewisburg - and she frequently made this point to members of the newspaper staff who were in touch with her.  In recent years she was proud of the fact that she had the longest tenure of anyone on The Citizen and lften let more recent members of the staff know that she considered them johnny-come-latelys.

"But this was probably what made us enjoy her so much.  Goldie was forthrightly honest and always let us know what she thought.  She seemed to enjoy it most when her viewpoint didn't exactly coincide with ours.  And her "now, sweetie," could preface some pretty devastating arguments - and some pretty winning remarks of appreciation or affection.

"There is a special bond between a county newspaper and its small town correspondents which made us feel as sad about Goldie's retirement a few weeks ago as she felt herself.  She told us she'd miss us and we knew she meant it as we did when we said we'd miss her, even though we both appreciated that the job should be turned over to more vigorous hands at last.

"We won't forget that crispy, crackly voice coming through the phone.  We won't soon forget the sparkle of those eyes which had seen so much.  We won't forget Goldie."

Golden C. "Goldie" Millice rests from her labors, beside her husband George,  in the old section of Maple Grove Cemetery, off Gilbert Road, about a mile outside of North Lewisburg.

She was always, and remains, one of the characters in my play.