Cover photo for T J Miller's Obituary
1926 T 2020

T J Miller

June 6, 1926 — November 24, 2020

Plains and Waco, Texas

TJ Miller passed away Tuesday morning November 24, 2020, at the age of 94.  Graveside services and interment will be 2:00 P.M. Friday November 27, 2020, in Plains Cemetery in Plains, Texas with reverend Patrick Hamilton officiating, During the service Masonic honors will be rendered by the Masonic Lodge.

TJ Miller was born in Merkel, TX to John Edd and Elberta Miller but spent most of his childhood outside of Throckmorton.  After the death of his mother when he was two, he grew up helping his father farm and learned early on to be self-sufficient.  By age 10, he was paying for his own clothes by hitchhiking into town on Saturdays and shining shoes.

Following high school graduation, he enlisted in the Merchant Marines during World War II. TJ served on Liberty ships crossing the Atlantic numerous times to deliver guns, ammunition and other supplies to the Allies.  He sailed to England, Germany, France, Holland and North Africa.

After the war ended, he briefly attended Texas Tech where he met his future wife, Lois Forrest.  They were married and moved to Lois’ hometown of Plains.  TJ began working for Shell Oil Company at the gasoline refinery and worked there for 34 years.  During those years he also raised cattle and purchased and refurbished several rent houses. Not only did he work hard to support his family, but used these endeavors to spend time with his daughters, teaching them life skills and a strong work ethic.  In addition, he mentored several young people who sought his company and quiet wisdom.

TJ’s public service in Plains began almost immediately upon his move to Plains as he helped with the incorporation of the City of Plains.  Among other positions, he served as a volunteer fireman, as a member of the City Council for 10 years, and as Mayor for 22 years.   He served on many, many local, regional, and state committees and commissions. He was a faithful member of the Masonic lodge and supported its charitable work and was a member of the First Baptist Church of Plains as well as several service organizations.

TJ and Lois, married for 62 years, raised four daughters. He supported and encouraged each of his girls in all their endeavors during childhood and beyond.  In January 2006 TJ and Lois moved to Waco, Texas at the insistence of the daughters.  At the age of 80 TJ began making friends in his new community.  Soon after Lois passed away in 2009, TJ began to sit on a park bench gifted him by his daughters and handed out dog treats to the neighborhood dogs while enjoying conversation with their owners.  He quickly became the focal point of daily neighborhood gatherings.  In his quiet, calm way he made friends with person after person who greeted “Mr. Miller” and looked for him daily on the park bench.

In Waco he was a faithful member of a Sunday school class at Columbus Avenue Baptist Church, the Masonic Lodge, and the senior lunch group at Harrison Senior Center.  He exercised consistently at a local medical exercise facility until COVID-19 hit.

TJ is survived by his daughter, Sherry Melecki, and her husband, Tom, of Austin and their two daughters, Meredith Melecki and Sarah Melecki, of Austin; daughter, Glenda Miller and her husband, Jerry Malesovas, of Waco; daughter, Donna Miller, D.D.S., and her husband, K. Paul Holt, of Waco, and daughter, B.J. Wilson and her husband Mark, of Grapevine, TX.  He will be missed immensely by the grown daughters he leaves behind.

He was an awesome Daddy and Granddaddy.  The recollections below, shared by one of his granddaughters, paint a vivid picture of TJ.

My Granddaddy died this morning at the age of 94. The following is a little about him, for anyone who wants to read about an extraordinary life packaged in a seemingly ordinary man.

Granddaddy grew up in a rural area of west Texas during the dust bowl – it wasn’t an easy life by any means. His mother died when he was 2 and then when he was around age 20, his brother and father also died tragic deaths.

Granddaddy served in the Merchant Marines during World War II. He was incredibly pragmatic. When I asked what his job was, he said that he worked in the engine room of the ship – they sailed through the Arctic Ocean and he thought it would be better to be hot than freezing cold on deck. Pretty sound logic.

When he got out of the military, he moved to Lubbock where he met my grandmother, and then later moved to the small town of Plains where he worked for Shell Oil during the day and ranched on nights and weekends.

He and my grandmother raised four daughters, paying for all of their college and advanced degrees (and there were a lot). Despite having only a semester of college under his belt, my granddaddy felt that education was incredibly important. He once organized members of the community to pay for a young woman’s school lunches and other supplies after her dad instructed her to quit school at 16 because she was a girl. He also had a talk with that woman’s father about the importance of educating girls, and eventually changed the father’s mind. That woman went on to get a bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech.

When I was little, I used to go visit my grandparents in Plains every summer and the highlight for me was getting to drive Granddaddy’s riding lawn mower through town. We would just ride along and give that special Texas wave to anyone passing by – the one where you’ve got your hand on the wheel so you just raise it up once in acknowledgement. I still do that!

Beyond that red riding lawn mower, the thing I will remember most about Granddaddy was his servant leadership. He served his community as a member of the Plains City Council and later Mayor, but he also served in a lot of quiet ways, which I only ever learned about through others because he never talked about it. For example, he taught one young man who was a tenant in his rent house about how to use tools – that man went on to successfully start a construction business. Most of the things my grandparents did for others will never be known by our family because he and my grandmother didn’t talk about what they did to help people – they just did it.

To say that Granddaddy was a man of few words is an understatement. He wasn’t much of a conversationalist. He wanted to help his family and the people around him, and he didn’t need a lot of words to do it.  I aspire to share some of his qualities – especially his service to his family and his community. His was a life very well lived.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Meals on Wheels, 501 West Waco Drive, Waco, Texas 76707 or Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, 2222 Welborn Street, Dallas, Texas  75219-3924

To send flowers to the family in memory of T J Miller, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Graveside Service

Friday, November 27, 2020

Starts at 2:00 pm (Central time)

Plains Cemetery in Plains, Texas

, Plains, TX 79355

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