A Centenarian's Lesson in Giving

January 5, 2021

At 103, Vivian “Millie” Bailey may seem slight in stature, but many will tell you her heart is big

This story first appeared in Howard County General Hospital Wellness Matters magazine’s Winter 2020 Issue.

Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) has benefited over the past 25 years from Millie Bailey’s support both as a donor and as the longest-serving member of the hospital’s board of trustees. The hospital, a member of Johns Hopkins Medicine, is once again a recipient of her heartfelt philanthropy. In recognition of Bailey’s recent generous donation, the hospital’s cafeteria will be named the Vivian C. “Millie” and William Harrison Bailey Cafeteria.

Mille Bailey sits on a bench holding a framed photo of her husband.
Howard County General Hospital will name its cafeteria for Johns Hopkins Legacy Society member Millie Bailey and her late husband William Harrison Bailey. Hear more of Millie’s story.

Bailey and her late husband Bill moved to Columbia, Maryland, in 1970, and when she retired in 1975 from the Social Security Administration, she continued giving back to the community. “Bill was very active in the county just as I have been,” recalls Bailey. “He was involved with the Community Action Council and extremely active with the Howard County Police Department on crime prevention.”

When Bailey was a little girl growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, she says, “I never dreamed that I would be able to do anything of significance for anybody else. Today, I tell everybody, try to find something, a cause that is important to you and support that cause. Some people think you must have a lot of money to do something, but they forget that small amounts add up to large amounts.”

When it comes to supporting HCGH, Bailey says, “I think it’s extremely important for Howard County residents to support their only community hospital.” Because her giving also includes a commitment from her estate, Bailey is a member of the Johns Hopkins Legacy Society, which recognizes donors whose gifts support the future of any area of Johns Hopkins.

“Even though I have the hospital in my will, I wanted to donate this year. The cafeteria is a place where everybody goes, and therefore, they’ll be able to see that the Baileys gave, and it may inspire others to do something like that too.”

When asked for the secret to living to 103, she says there is no real secret but she believes eating well, maintaining a healthy weight and regularly exercising your mind and body all play a part in her being a centenarian. “I think that just sitting and doing nothing is a waste of time,” says Bailey. “If you sit and look at television all day you are not thinking, you are not having to use your mind.

“I like what Jackie Robinson said, ‘A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives,’ and I regularly try to think of ways that I can help other people and to make life a little better for someone. I would like to be remembered as being a giving person — someone who tried to do some good and tried to make things a little better. That would be good enough for me.”

Editor’s Note: Vivian “Millie” Bailey died on May 1, 2022. Read more about her remarkable life.

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Topics: Friends of Johns Hopkins Medicine, Howard County General Hospital, Promote and Protect Health, Strengthening Partnerships