Friends and family wanted to know what Bill Storms needed for his 100th birthday. As he has said so often, and with a smile, the lifelong Bladenboro resident replied “just love me.”
Sunday afternoon, about 250 people showed their love for Storms during a birthday party held at the Bladenboro Historical Building. A sign behind Storms read Just Love Me.
Photos by Ray Jones
“I’ve had a good life,” said Storms, who was born June 16, 1919 and was the third of nine children in his family. “It’s been a good 100 years.”
Storms was born at a time when the average yearly household income was $1,914, a new car cost $466 and a gallon of gas was 15 cents, according to Nostalgia News Report.
Storms was born more than a year before KDKA became the nation’s first commercial radio station on Nov. 2, 1920. He was 9 when W3XK became the first commericially licensed television station in the United States, not that anyone in Bladenboro could watch.
“Oh my goodness,” Storms said when asked about the changes he had seen over 100 years. “We had no TV, no radio.” He recalled that he was about 14 before automobiles became readily available. “I think the cell phone is one of the biggest changes in my lifetime.”
As a young man, Storms worked in a shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia, but soon returned to Bladenboro after he married Mildred Milligan. The couple had a son, Billy, and three daughters, Jane, Brenda and Judy. Storms now has eight grandchildren, 20 great-greatchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
Storms was a successful farmer in Bladen County, raising livestock and growing crops such as peanuts and tobacco. He always was willing to share advice with young farmers in the area.
Storms retired from farming when he was 62. That allowed he and Mildred to travel, which included a trip to The Holy Land in Jerusalem. Storms is an avid reader and historian, his family says.
Mildred died on Sept. 6, 2004. The couple had been married 63 years.
After Mildred passed, Bill Storms became raising rose bushes. Each Mother’s Day, he would present a rose to all of the women and girls at his church, Zion Hill Baptist Church in Bladenboro. A shortage of roses caused Storms to stop in 2017.
Rose also was the name of Storms’ dog. And the pair became quite the well-known act around the area. Storms taught Rose to sing, dance and play the piano among other tricks. The two would perform at schools, churches and nursing homes before Rose retired in 2013.
Storms is a very devoted man to his family, church, community and country, family members say. He still enjoys a visit to Hardee’s and checking out farmland.
While not as spry at 100 as he was in his earlier years, Storms still exercises and rides a stationary bicycle daily.
Sunday afternoon, folks in the Bladenboro area gave 100-year-old Bill Storms the gift he wanted most – love.Share: