Born in Fort Worth and a graduate of Fort Worth Brewer High School, David Miller was bound for Baylor University when he got a scholarship offer to play tuba in the Hardin-Simmons University Cowboy Band. As a preacher’s kid, he needed the money and accepted the offer, following in the footsteps of his older brother, Jim, who also played tuba in the Cowboy Band. At Hardin-Simmons, David met his future wife, Elaine. After they graduated and married, they moved to Fort Worth for graduate school. When David graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, he was asked to join the seminary’s public relations staff. Three years later, he went back to Hardin-Simmons as an assistant vice president for development and his wife got a job in downtown Abilene as a U.S. Treasury Special Agent. David joined the staff of Hendrick Home for Children in 1989 and in 1994 was named president and CEO. Thirty-two years and five grandchildren later, he retired from the position.
During David’s thirty-seven years as a professional in Abilene, he has stayed connected to at least one national, state, and local organization each year as a volunteer, some of which include the Association of Christian Childcare Administrators, Southwest Association of Executives of Homes for Children, Texas Executives of Homes for Children, Texas Coalition of Homes for Children, District Review Committee for the Texas Medical Board, Texas Education Agency Pre-School Evaluation Committee, Abilene Chamber Red Coats, Dyess Honorary Commander, Leadership Abilene Co-chair, Key City Little League Coach, First Baptist Church Basketball coach, Abilene Soccer Association coach, Texas/ Oklahoma Lt. Governor, Texas/Oklahoma Kiwanis Foundation, Texas/Oklahoma Kiwanis Youth Chair, Greater Abilene Kiwanis Club, HSU Cowboy Band Foundation, HSU Board of Development, and the HSU President’s Business Leader Advisory Board.
WHAT KEEPS YOU IN ABILENE?
Elaine and I love Abilene. Our retirement plans never included a discussion of moving from Abilene because this is where our forty-year vintage friendships live. Abilene is home to many of our tenured Hendrick Home for Children associations. Our Lake Brownwood place is a perfect one-hour drive and Ruidoso is an easy day drive. Our grandchildren’s parents enjoy coming home to Abilene, we have great churches, shopping, entertainment, golf weather all year long, the Abilene Regional Airport is convenient, and Abilene is blessed with great medical facilities. And we love living in our college hometown.
WHAT MAKES ABILENE UNIQUE?
I would be hard pressed to find another perfect size town like Abilene that serves a greater patriotic duty in relation to Dyess Air Force Base. And in the backdrop of the sophisticated B1 Bomber, we celebrate a Western heritage that makes me proud of our hats, boots, music, and BBQ.
WHAT OR WHO ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT?
My greatest passion is for our Big Country community to stay vigilant about caring for our most marginalized children and single parents of all races who have authentic needs, limited possibilities, and scarce hope for change without our continued passionate responses to their plight.
WHAT DID YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE AT HENDRICK HOME FOR CHILDREN?
People, purpose, passion, and plan. Those words describe a lot of what my days looked like while working at Hendrick Home. A Kiwanian friend of mine who worked closely with several of our single mothers and their children through Habitat for Humanity, has told me many times I had the perfect job in Abilene because he could see first-hand how lives were changed every day at the Home. The changes came through daily interactions involving small and large decisions, gestures of encouragement, assurances of love and security, and plans of service that brought about genuine physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional change. There was not a day that I didn’t see our HHC team working in concert with each other, working with people, purpose, passion, and a plan.
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE SINCE RETIREMENT?
Entering retirement after thirty-two years, I worried about missing those four “P’s.” But our new president, Robert Marshall, a professional friend since 1999 from Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch, whose name I brought to the board, has been more than gracious in making retirement a soft landing for me. I have yet to find my average daily stride, but I do see some gems running through my days. My chiropractor says he sees remarkable tensions released in my neck and back. I have read more wonderful books, my mornings are filled with coffee and reflection, I enjoy cooking breakfast at 10 a.m. if Elaine hasn’t beaten me to it, we have attended a few bucket list concerts, we have more interactions with our other retired friends, and we depend on going to Sunday church so we can count days backwards to know what day of the week it is. We eagerly look forward to visiting some former child care administrators in Branson, Missouri.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS AND CHANGES YOU WANT TO SEE IN ABILENE?
While every community has its ups and downs, the governance and growth of Abilene has been in a continuous upward trajectory ever since I moved here from Fort Worth as a college freshman. After I graduated and left in 1974 and then came back in 1983, I was amazed at the growth I had seen in my college town. Stores stayed open after 5 p.m. We had a loop and a mall! New housing additions had been built as well as a new country club with a championship-length golf course. Amazing changes. Now, I observe with optimism the growth in the SODA district and the groundbreaking of the new downtown hotel. I am encouraged that Abilene has not lost its mojo for building our next future while not forgetting the foundation that our past civic leaders forged for us many years ago. My desire for Abilene is that we continue selecting good city councilpersons, city managers, and mayors who will lead with vision and passion. And I would hope we continue to retain the next generation of Abilenians who are graduating from our universities by paying above average wages to retain above average talent, like school teachers, healthcare providers, and civic employees.
WHAT DO YOU SEE IN THE FUTURE FOR ABILENE IN THE NEXT 5-10 YEARS?
My guess is that it’s the people of a community that are the best indicators of what a city will look like in the next ten years. Barring unusual circumstances, I see Abilene’s passion for growth continuing to prosper well. I am even more confident in Abilene’s bright future as I look at the solid health of our universities, Dyess Air Force Base, churches, businesses, health care facilities, civic leadership, civic clubs, non-profits, small businesses and so much more. We are people of proven adaptivity and a growing inclusivity. As long as we continue building on those traits, I think the future of Abilene looks very bright for decades to come.
FAVORITE BOOKS: The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Mark A. Noll, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid by Jimmy Carter
SPORT: Major League Baseball
FOOD: A fatty prime Angus ribeye steak
By Loretta Fulton