Frank Miller, aged 76, died peacefully on September 21st 2016, at his home outside Houston, Texas with family at his beside, after a long and courageous battle with Alzheimer’s.
A multi-talented, highly accomplished and engagingly witty man, Frank pursued his many interests and natural gifts throughout his life with a vigor and passion matched by a tireless work ethic, leading to a host of remarkable achievements in a number of different fields. His tall stature and striking presence was balanced by a keen intellect and a gentleness of spirit that was immediately recognizable to those around him.
Christened Malcolm Frank Miller, he was born in Meridian, Mississippi on January 19th, 1940 to Burma Kate and Niles Boyd Miller, the youngest of three boys. In the early 1950’s, he and his family moved to San Antonio, Texas where the 6 foot 7 inch teenager became a star basketball player at Southwest High School.
He won a scholarship to study at Texas State University (at the time, named Southwest Texas State College) in San Marcos, where he was a member of the Pi Sigma Chi fraternity. In 1961, Frank was named an All American basketball star when his team competed in the NAIA championships, college basketball’s oldest national championship for accredited small colleges and universities. He served as captain of the Texas State basketball team in 1962, the year he graduated.
One of Frank’s greatest joys in life was music, and he was a masterful, self-taught guitar player. While still in college, he joined a local band that went on to become nationally famous for their hit record, ‘Treat Her Right’. The recording reached number 2 on the Billboards Top 100 list in 1965 in both the US and the UK. Frank stayed with the band for six years, playing only on weekends once he graduated from college and began to build a career in the insurance industry.
In 1973, Frank founded and became president of the United General Insurance Exchange in Dallas, Texas. A revolutionary concept at the time, United General was the first reciprocal insurance company in the country to be established for the oil and gas industry. The company quickly grew, in tandem with the burgeoning oil market in the 1970’s, and went on to expand across a number of states regionally and as far away as Wyoming. In 1977, the company relocated its headquarters from Dallas to Houston, and Frank and his family moved to the Houston neighborhood of Memorial.
In 1986, Frank joined and was appointed president of the American Contractors Insurance Group (ACIG), an insurance company tailored to the construction industry that had recently been founded in Dallas. Frank helped steer the growth of the company over the next 19 years, staying with the group as president until his retirement in 2005.
Outside of business, Frank was a veritable renaissance man with a wide variety of interests and creative pursuits. In addition to playing guitar, he was a remarkable artist working in pencil, watercolors and oil, able to faithfully reproduce impressionist paintings and create original compositions, often landscapes and scenes from his many trips abroad. An early proponent of organic gardening, Frank could grow all kinds of vegetables and fruits at home despite the harsh Texas climate, and had a particular affinity for tomatoes. He was also a talented carpenter and architectural designer who enjoyed taking on big DIY projects, single-handedly building a set of horse stables for his daughter and a 3-room poolside cabana.
Off duty, his personality, knowledge and insights, and singularly sharp wit made him very entertaining company. With his musical ear, he was an ace impersonator of foreign accents and celebrities; and his sense of comic timing made him a hilarious and captivating storyteller.
Frank was married for twenty years to Linda Ellison Miller and they had three children, for whom he provided a fun-filled and idyllic childhood. He instilled in them a curiosity about the world and sense of wonder of the heavens; his love of music, sports and art; and the encouragement to learn new things and grow.
Subsequently he was married for twenty-six years to Patricia M. Miller and became a supportive stepfather to her two adult children and their extended family as well.
Through the course of his life, Frank bestowed upon his children a number of valuable lessons: a sense of drive and responsibility; self-belief without arrogance; the courage to take risks and bounce back if you fail; to think big yet remain humble when you succeed; to respect and appreciate nature; to remember to laugh, and be considerate and kind to others.
Frank is survived by his three children, four grandchildren, his brother Ed and sister-in-law Dorothy, and his second wife, Patricia.
A private funeral service will be held in Houston. Charitable donations in Frank’s memory can be made to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America at www.alzfdn.org.