Centenarian Earl Killian sat in the lobby of his condominium building, wearing a bright red golf sweater and donning a face mask as several of his longtime friends and neighbors offered birthday wishes during a walk-by celebration to help share in his special day.
Even the mayor stopped by to wish him well and present him with an official proclamation from the City of Daytona Beach Shores.
“This may the first walk-by instead of a drive-by,” said neighbor Lynn Bishop, who helped organize the shindig for the World War II veteran and college coach. “This is how this is set up, so people would walk by and then leave,” keeping the pandemic in mind.
Mr. Killian’s niece, Judith Daugherty, lives in the condominium next door and sat next to him as friends stopped by to say happy birthday and sign his card.
“My mother was his wife’s sister,” said Ms. Daugherty, who was the only family member available to attend her uncle’s party.
“One of his nieces passed away and the other is being held up by an airplane,” she explained.
So what does this perky 100 year old attribute to his good health and longevity?
“Just luck, bad luck,” he joked as his niece chuckled.
“He’s in better shape than all of us,” she added.
When Mr. Killian was asked to pose for a photo, he replied, “I have to look good.”
Luck aside, perhaps the main reason he is in such good shape has to do with his lifelong dedication to sports. He was an avid golfer, having played twice weekly well into his 90s. He started golfing following WWII, during which he served as an anti-submarine blimp pilot. He aced the par-three fourth hole at Turnbull Bay Golf Club in New Smyrna Beach. He was 92 at the time.
Golf buddies Charlene and Ken Jones dropped by with a golf poster with his name on it. “We used to golf together. Everyone wanted him on their team,” Mr. Jones said. “He was a really good golfer.”
After the war, Mr. Killian became a head coach and athletic director at Towson University in Maryland. Starting in 1951, he coached men’s soccer, then basketball and baseball teams until 1973. He was the first head coach to oversee all three sports simultaneously.
Daytona Beach Shores Mayor Nancy Miller stopped by with her husband, Ed, to extend birthday wishes and to read a city proclamation honoring Mr. Killian.
“He is a valued citizen of our community. Therefore we deem it an honor and a pleasure to extend our sincere congratulations and best wishes for many more happy, productive years,” the Mayor said. “I hereby declare Monday Aug. 3, 2020, as Earl W. Killian Day in the city.”
Mayor Miller also thanked Mr. Killian for his participation during the city’s Veteran’s Park dedication earlier in the year. “It was an honor to have you there as a representative of Daytona Beach Shores, and I want to thank you for your service to our country. I just wanted to tell you what an honor it is to have you as a resident,” she said.