We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Bullock Funeral Home & Crematorium
Sumter, SC …. John E. Miles was born on July 13, 1939, in Olanta, South Carolina, to Annie Lorina Sims Miles and McSwain Miles and passed away peacefully at his home in the early morning hours on Sunday, November 28, 2021.
He attended elementary and junior high school in Olanta where he proved himself to be a very capable student. In the early 1950’s, his parents who could neither read nor write, decided to move to Lake City, South Carolina, giving up their sharecropper jobs in Florence County. John entered school in Lake City and was also hired by a car dealership to work in the parts department. When the owner encouraged him to drop out of school, he decided to join the military knowing he could go to school and serve. He persuaded a family member to forge his birthdate and enlisted in the United States Army. On Christmas Eve of that year, he left by ship to Korea where he served with the 24th Infantry Division as a Forward Observer with the 13th Field Artillery Battalion on 105 Millimeter Howitzers. John was honorably discharged as staff sergeant in 1958.
Upon his return to the United States, he was hired by WCRE AM in Cheraw, South Carolina as a radio announcer 1958-1960. The manager of the radio station suggested that he needed a radio name rather than his birth name, Wilbur, to fit the music of the day. He chose Johnny Eagle remembering a native American he had met by that name. John also worked briefly in Charlotte, North Carolina before coming to Sumter, South Carolina in 1960 to work at WDXY AM, the new rock and roll station. The station built a booth over Coles Restaurant which
became known as “The Eye in the Sky” where Johnny Eagle played requests sent up by the car hops. In the 1960’s he worked in Manning, South Carolina, as a disc jockey at WYMB AM, returning to Sumter in 1967 as an announcer for WFIG AM, a country and western station where he became Program Director and General Manager. Also, he graduated from Federal Aviation Primary Pilot’s School in September 1968 and TEC Instrument Pilot Ground School in 1969.
In 1968, when WFIG was sold, he remained manager and became part owner of the station. John was instrumental in establishing a new station WWDM FM which would become known as the BIG DM in the early 1970’s. He also served as Anchorman for Nightly News on WBTW Television Station from 1968-1971. His daily radio show “This Is Sumter” with hosts Johnny Eagle and Dale McCaskill, remained a popular weekly broadcast until he left WFIG in the summer of 1976. In the 1960’s and early 1970’s, John was active in the South Carolina Jaycees,
serving as President of the Manning Chapter 1966-1967 Chairman, National Director in 1967, as well as Acting State Chaplain. In recognition of his leadership in the field of Membership and Extension, he was the first South Carolina Jaycee elected to the Distinguished President’s Club. The Sumter Jaycees also made him recipient of “Boss of the Year” award in 1972.
After the death of Carlyle W. Goodman in February 1973, John was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives on May 15 finishing out his term. That year, he also entered the University of South Carolina graduating cum laude in 1976 with a B.S. degree in Political Science. In May 1976, he was elected to the South Carolina Senate representing Sumter and Clarendon Counties beginning his four-year tenure in the Senate in the fall from 1976-1980. Having been accepted to the University of South Carolina’s School of Law, he also began classes there while serving in the legislature.
John was appointed by Governor Richard Riley to serve on the Public Service Authority, known as Santee Copper for a seven-year term from 1981-1988. Also in 1981, he opened his law practice in Sumter, South Carolina, immersing himself in building his reputation as a trial lawyer. He continued practicing law through May2021. He was a member of the South Carolina Bar Association and The Sumter County Bar Association. John served on The Sumter County Committee for Higher Education Board of Trustees USC Sumter for five years.
In addition, John received many honors for his work in civic affairs in Clarendon and Sumter Counties. Including President of woodmen of the World and President of the Association of Woodmen Presidents for South Carolina Pee Dee Area as well as award from the Mental Health Association and American Cancer Society. In 1967, he was listed in Outstanding Young Men in America and Outstanding Personalities of the South. He was funds Chairman for Mental Health Association, Program Chairman Sumter Educational Funds Crusade Chairman 1973, and Chairman of the Board of Directors for the American Society in 1974. John Miles was also member of the South Carolina Division of the Cancer Society. Clarendon County Red Cross, Clarendon County Mental Health Association, the Kiwanis Club and Elks Club. John was an Master Mason and Shriner.
Surviving John is his beloved wife, Maxine V. Miles of Sumter, a son, John Eagle Miles, Jr. and his wife Mary Kennon of Washington, DC, McKinley Jackson Miles of Mt. Pleasant, and their mother Karen Stone Moses Miles. He was preceded in death by his father and mother, McSwain Miles and Lucille Sims Miles Lane, a sister, Clarice Miles Lynch, and his brother, Jack Miles. Also surviving him are numerous nieces, nephews, step nieces and nephews, several stepchildren and step grandchildren, and his first wife, Rachel M. Miles.
A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, December 18, 2021, from 3:00-5:00 pm at Bullock Funeral Home.
The family wishes to express a special thank you to Caris Hospice and Jonell of Carolina Caregivers for all of their loving and compassionate care during John’s illness.
You may go to www.bullockfuneralhome.com and sign the family’s guest book.
The family has chosen Bullock Funeral Home for the arrangements.