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Monday, November 20, 2023
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John Robert (Bob) Miller
He was born on a cold September morning in 1940 in a one room cabin without running water or electricity in the rolling hills outside of Hardy, Arkansas. The last of 3 children, he was born into a hard world - a world on the brink of war where millions of men, women and children were slaughtered because of their race. This hard world forged a strong man. A simple man. A man that learned very early that hard physical work, respect for others, and keeping your word were how you lived your life. There was not a lot of “gray” in his life. What was right was “black and white”, and not hard to know.
He started work at 7 years old sweeping floors in a Billups service station to help his family put food on the table and pay the bills. He worked hard - physically worked hard. When he took a paycheck, he earned it.
He was talented at making mechanical things run, and he began to repair cars at an early age. He bought his own used car - a 55 Chevrolet Bel Air. It wasn’t fast, so he made it so. His cars were fast and didn’t have much use for good brakes. He built and raced everything from go karts to race cars. He raced in neighborhood shopping centers on go karts with his neighbors and on quarter mile, high banked asphalt tracks against future NASCAR superstar and Hall of Famer, Terry Labonte, and all of the local guys that built race cars from parts salvaged from automobile junkyards.
His youth was spent on work, cars, and hanging out with his older brother and his friends including future Country and Western Music superstar, Don Williams. Williams went to church with him and ran up and down the roads with him. At one point, Williams tried to teach him to play guitar. It was a failed attempt. What he understood was internal combustion engines.
He married a girl from Taft, Texas when he was 19 years old and working in the derrick of an oil rig. It was hard, nasty, dangerous work but it paid well for a guy that didn’t finish high school. His 17 year old wife, Lucille, soon after they were married became pregnant with the first of four children. The two of them worked hard and put their 3 living children through college. The first became a lawyer, the second a commercial real estate investor/executive, the third died at a young age in an accident, and the fourth built an interior design firm.
Growing up, the kids played Little League Baseball, rode dirt bikes and, in the case of the last one, competed in and won beauty pageants. He built pitching mounds in the back yard, motorcycle tracks around the house, and go karts for them to play with.
He insisted that all of the children begin to work at an early age - not to support the family, but to learn the value of work.
He and his wife worked together as they raised their family. They lived modestly and saved their money. A piece of land was bought with a clouded title because it could be afforded. The family built a metal building that became Miller’s Parts and Service, a NAPA Auto Parts store and repair garage. He worked 7 days a week out of fear of failure.
It didn’t fail. It prospered and provided a comfortable lifestyle for his family.
Financial success did not change who he was. He lived simply. He liked to fish, but he wasn’t good at it. He compensated by recruiting friends who were good at it and catching fish with them. He ate at Dairy Queen, Whataburger and Floyd’s Restaurant because he knew who he was and what he liked. He built things, instead of bought them. For 50 years, he made cars run that were broken. He taught young people to do the same.
He led by example, not directive. He believed fairness and respect were a code to live by, not aspirations.
He died like he lived - quietly and without fanfare. He wished not to be a burden on others, and he was not. A life well lived is an honest one. A life lived as you are. He did that. He leaves behind the example and the memories of someone that tried to be the best he could be, given the cards that he was dealt. He set a high standard, without the thought of doing so.
Bob is preceded in death by his youngest son, Jay Richard Miller, his parents, John Ronald Miller and Ora Bell Clark Stephen, and his step-dad, H.B. Stephen, his siblings, James Miller and Betty Lou Miller Sapp.
He is survived by and leaves behind to continue his legacy his son John Robert (Rob) Miller, wife Jennifer and their children Carson and Sheridan Miller. Son James Ronald (Ron) Miller, wife Vicki and their children Reid Miller, wife Cheyenne and newest addition a great grandson, Jordan River Miller, and Riley Miller. Daughter Kimberlie Miller and her children Alex and Josh Doehring.
There will be a graveside service on November 20th, 2023 at 11:00am at The Palms Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Portland, TX. There will be a reception immediately following the service at 323 Inverness Dr., Portland, TX.
Arrangements are under the direction and personal care of the professionals at Winsteads' Funeral Home. (361) 643-6564. www.winsteadsfuneralhome.com