Miller, Vance C., 79, died from cardiac arrest Feb. 23 in Dallas. Born Oct. 19, 1933 in Seminole, OK, he grew up mostly in Dallas but never forgot his childhood experiences in the Depression era, on the fringes of the dustbowl. Known to the public as a prominent real estate mogul and philanthropist, family members and friends knew him as an eternal optimist with an enduring sense of humor and extraordinary mental toughness. The son of Juanita and Henry S. Miller Jr., Vance was chairman and chief executive of Henry S. Miller Co., the real estate business his grandfather launched in 1914. He joined the business in 1959, became president in...
Miller, Vance C., 79, died from cardiac arrest Feb. 23 in Dallas. Born Oct. 19, 1933 in Seminole, OK, he grew up mostly in Dallas but never forgot his childhood experiences in the Depression era, on the fringes of the dustbowl. Known to the public as a prominent real estate mogul and philanthropist, family members and friends knew him as an eternal optimist with an enduring sense of humor and extraordinary mental toughness.
The son of Juanita and Henry S. Miller Jr., Vance was chairman and chief executive of Henry S. Miller Co., the real estate business his grandfather launched in 1914. He joined the business in 1959, became president in 1970, and along with his father, grew the company to become one of the pre-eminent regional real estate powerhouses in Texas and the USA.
Upon hearing the news, Gov. Rick Perry said, "Vance was a patriot, successful businessman and selfless philanthropist whose entrepreneurial spirit and love of freedom helped put Dallas, and our state, on the path to success. While he may not have been born here, he was a proud Texan, and I was honored to have called him my friend. Anita and I extend our sincere condolences and prayers to Tincy, his family, friends and colleagues across the state."
Vance was especially proud of his service as a Lieutenant in the Air Force as a jet fighter pilot during the "Cold War" years and briefly considered pursuing a career in the military. Instead, he remained in the U.S. Air Force Reserves for several years and joined his father and grandfather in the family business.
He graduated from Highland Park High School and earned a B.B.A. from Southern Methodist University in 1956 after meeting his wife there, Geraldine "Tincy" Erwin. He often reminded her that from the moment he spotted her crossing the campus in bobby sox and jeans, he knew she was the gal he would marry. Their marriage spanned 56 years, enduring the heartache of losing their son, and the challenges of both good times and bad. Together they have given generously of their combined talents to Dallas and beyond, contributing to the performing arts and numerous charities.
An avid golfer, he was a founding member of Preston Trail Golf Club, and later enjoyed developing the golf courses at family-owned Prestonwood Country Club. Together with his father, they reinvigorated Highland Park Shopping Center, but his larger version was tied to his belief in the potential of Dallas, as he foresaw the explosive growth the city would subsequently experience.
He incorporated a favorite Rotary Club quote onto a two-sided plaque that sat on his desk: "Is it Fair and Just?" read one side, and, reflecting his dry wit, he added to the other side, "Thou Shalt not Whine." He was famous for many quotable and often wry bits of advice cherished by friends, family and associates, such as "Curse not the crocodile until you have crossed the river" or "If you're going to be a gunfighter, you've got to be willing to get shot."
He spent over 50 years developing the fortunes of the Henry S. Miller Company, helping to ensure that the name endured, and was looking forward to the company's 100th anniversary in January 2014. His company won many awards for "Best Companies to Work For," a testament to his style of leadership. He mentored many luminaries in today's Dallas real estate community and his leadership will be missed, both in his family and business. He loved his family, friends and country in an unconditional manner.
He is survived by his wife Tincy; daughter Cynthia Vance-Abrams and her husband Bob Abrams; son Vaughn E. Miller and his wife Dena; son Gregory and his wife Kim; eight grandchildren: Nathaniel Abrams; Penny, Vaughn, Lance, Vance Calvin and Gigi Miller; Wes and Wyatt Miller. He is also survived by his sister Patsy Miller Donosky (whose late husband was David Donosky); brother Henry S. Miller III; sister Jacqueline Miller Stewart and her husband Peter B. Stewart; aunt Dr. Carmen Miller Michael and her husband Dr. Ludwig A. Michael; cousin Henry Lewis; and a large, beloved extended family. He is pre-deceased by his son Vance Charles Miller Jr. (1958-1997).
Services will be held on Thurs., Feb. 28 at 3 pm at Highland Park Presbyterian Church, 3821 University Blvd., Dallas, TX 75205, followed by a reception at the church. A private graveside service will take place earlier. The family will welcome visitors on Wed., Feb. 27 from 5 to 8 pm at Sparkman/Hillcrest Funeral Home, 7405 W. Northwest Hwy, Dallas.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Dallas Opera; Dallas Symphony Orchestra; UT Southwestern University-St. Paul; L.I.F.T.; or the Crystal Charity Ball. Online condolences can be made at www.Sparkman-Hillcrest.com.