J. Fred Miller, beloved son, devoted husband, amazing father, and proud papa, passed away Saturday, July 4, 2020, in Arlington, Texas.
SERVICE: Mary Ellen, Jennifer and Kelly invite J.’s friends to join them in a virtual service on Wednesday, July 15 at 10:00 a.m. Please go tohttps://memorial.wadefamilyfuneralhome.com/james-miller/4258457/obituary.phpand go to the Photos and Videos tab. Go to the bottom of the page and click on Watch Webcast.
A private graveside service will take place immediately following the service at Emerald Hills Memorial Park. A celebration of life will take place once it is safe for everyone to gather.
Born July 14, 1934, in Syracuse, KS, to Hazel and Fred Miller, J. learned the value of hard work and determination living on a farm during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl years. It was at his first “real” job as a printer’s apprentice at age 13 that his life-long love of the printing and publishing worlds took hold. Always curious and forever learning, J. was the first of his family to attend college, enrolling at The University of Kansas in 1952. Directly after college, J. held various writing jobs – most notably, as editor of The Teke– the national magazine of his fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon. J. then set his sights on New York City, landing a job as a reporter for Advertising Age. His life changed forever when he noticed Mary Ellen Robinson, who hailed from Plattsburgh, NY and worked at Bride’s Magazine, across the room at a launch party for 100 Pipers Scotch at the St. Regis Hotel. He and Mary Ellen married December 10, 1966 and moved to Chicago, where J. continued working forAdvertising Age. They welcomed their first daughter, Jennifer, in 1968. J’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to form a marketing communications company, which took the family to Denver, CO. J. and Mary Ellen welcomed their second daughter, Kelly, in 1970. J.’s marketing mind was always on, so when a client asked him to join the company and move to southern California in 1976, the Millers were on the move again. After a successful run marketing direct mail shoppers there, the window of opportunity opened again, taking the family to Arlington, TX, in 1978. Texas became the Miller’s permanent home. J. served as VP-Publisher of the Shoppers Guide and, subsequently, the Ft. Worth Shopper from 1978-80. After the Shoppers’ sale to media conglomerate Harte Hanks, J. founded Paper Finders — a newsprint sales company. J. added printing and publishing services to his business portfolio, establishing Publishing Systems Inc. in 1981. He served as President/CEO until his retirement in 2015.
No story about J. is complete without mentioning two of his great loves — music and Kansas Jayhawk basketball. He picked up the saxophone in high school and didn’t put it down until recently. J. loved all music -- especially big band. He instilled this love for music in both Jennifer and Kelly. J. was active on the DFW music scene, playing in the Arlington Wind Symphony and his quartet — Sax & Co., founding the Texas Wind Symphony, and emceeing multiple concerts through the years. J. particularly loved patriotic music, so it brings a smile to his family and friends that he went to be with the Lord on the Fourth of July.
J. got the biggest kick out of being “Papa” to Meg, Bo, and Elle. All three grandchildren were indoctrinated into the religion of KU basketball with Bo drinking the most juice. Papa was their biggest cheerleader, attending as many soccer, basketball, baseball, and football games he could. He took full credit for introducing Meg to musical theater, and Elle has inherited his fantastic sense of humor.
J. was an active member of First Presbyterian Church - Arlington, serving on several church committees, and as elder and Sunday School teacher. His lessons were always impeccably prepared and shared in J.’s wonderful story-telling style. J.’s love of the Lord was evident in how he lived his life. He was kind, compassionate, and always put others above himself. J.’s family and friends are finding comfort, knowing that he is finally free of pain and is playing his saxophone once again.
J. was preceded in death by his mother, father, and sister, Judy Conway.
Survived by his wife of 53 years Mary Ellen Miller; daughters Jennifer Miller Espey and Kelly Robinson Miller; brother Joe Miller; son-in-law Lin Espey; the apples of his eye — grandchildren Meg, Bo and Elle Espey; and his four-legged sidekick Greta.
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