James Stewart Miles
Colonel,United States Army
James Miles to be buried at Arlington
They glanced at the flower arrangements, smiling at the red bow emblazoned with the words "Regular Army by Golly."
Then they stopped at the flag-draped coffin where James S. "Jim" Miles lay.
Miles, a retired Army Colonel and city commissioner, was in full uniform.
That's how he wanted to be buried, said his friend, George Feaster.
Miles, who died Thursday at age 82, had procured the new uniform and pinned the medals for last year's Memorial Day parade, where he served as parade marshal, said Feaster, of Moss-Feaster Funeral Homes.
He had purchased two plots in Serenity Gardens, where he wanted to be buried next to his first wife, Beryl. He had been married to her 53 years before she died in 1994. But in the past year, Feaster said, he decided he wanted to be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.
"Most of you will remember our dad as a civic leader," said his son, David Miles, at his father's funeral Monday at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks.
But Miles' first love was the Army, where he served for 33 years, three months and 18 days, and fought in combat in World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars. After retiring from the Army and moving to Largo, he became active in civic affairs. He was elected to and served on the City Commission from 1982 to 2000. Miles, who died after undergoing heart surgery, had a reputation for frugality and candor.
"He had the attitude of lead, follow or get out of the way," said former mayor Warren Andrews. "I'm certain when he first opened his eyes in glory, he gathered some angels around him and first (told them) to organize their choir, then make sure Carol (his second wife) was taken of."
Then Andrews said, Miles probably remarked to St. Peter about the pearly gates: "I noticed that several of those pearls are missing, so give me that job, and I'll take care of it."
"I've never known a man who touched me more than Jim Miles," said Edwin I. "Ned" Ford, a former commissioner. "He was like a brother to me."
City Manager Steven Stanton recalled persuading Miles to attend a chamber of commerce after-hours event. Miles met Carol that way, Stanton said.
They married in 1996.
Stanton remembers Miles as a "high-maintenance" commissioner who would find mathematical errors in city budgets and mark up his memos with corrections.
A cartoonist drew Miles with these words, "If I had my way, this city would be run like the Army!"
Miles' burial is scheduled for 1 p.m. December
5, 2003, at Arlington National Cemetery.